Last week we sold our first house. Here are some things that we took away from the experience.
1. It sure feels good to be a seller
By now you may have heard the horror stories of being a buyer in this housing market. From my perspective as a seller, they all feel pretty true. For some reference, three and half years ago we bought our house. A few weeks before listing our realtor said she felt good about listing it for $50k above what we bought it for. Cool beans. A week later she had bumped that up to $60k over just for the heck of it. Then right before listing she walked through our house one more time and since we had put in some work getting everything nice and clean she couldn’t help but bump it up to $65k over. We listed for 3 days and had 8 showings and an open house. We had 8 offers come in, all starting at at least 10k over list price. A couple offers came in from corporations who wanted to pay cash with sight unseen. As our realtor began letting people know where they stood, the offers kept climbing. $80k over what we bought it for, $90k, $100k in cash. We thought that was it, until Sunday morning an offer for $105k over our purchase price came in.
So basically, three and a half years after buying the house we sold it for $105k more! And it was pretty painless. Three days of showings, selling the house “as is” with no need to make repairs, and even a free month of living here since we requested to move out later this summer. Sellers get whatever they want these days!
2. The value of “the story”
Some offers came with letters about the buyer’s “story”, little tidbits of who they are and why they fell in love with our house.
In one case a buyer’s realtor sent us the wrong “story” and it talked all about how the buyer loved our covered patio (we don’t have one) and our finished basement (ours is unfinished). When the realtor apologized and sent the corrected letter, with all the same emotions and pleas, it very much lost its effect.
In the end, we had two great offers that rose above the pack. In one case we knew their story, and in one case we really didn’t. We ended up selling to the ones with the story. Just knowing a little bit about them helped us visualize them loving the house like we have.
“Stuff” is funny. It is inanimate. It does not have feelings. And eventually you have to admit that your house is also “stuff”, albeit a very big “stuff.” However, this week we couldn’t help but feel like we owed this house for all the good times it gave us. Like we couldn’t just kick it to the curb and sell it to a corporation who would trash it with renters or to people who we didn’t know anything about. We wanted to leave it in good hands, like it was a faithful dog or something. And the “story” went a long way in helping us feel good about things.
3. The week of selling felt like a vacation
With all the showings we of course had to be out of the house for big chunks of the day. (And for the times we didn’t have to be out, we didn’t want our little girls getting their grubby fingers all over everything!) So for three days we were fairly nomadic. We ate at restaurants for every meal and got to skip work and hang out with our friends during the days. We went to some cool new places in our city and ended up having a really great time. By the end we both agreed that we felt we had been on a vacation. Each day was different, we had good food, and like a vacation each day was a little more stressful than usual, a little more expensive than usual, and a little more fun than usual.
4. The bizarre feeling of seeing strangers walk through your house
One showing went long and when we came back home we saw a couple on our front porch, obviously deliberating about the house and deciding to put in an offer or not. It took us back to a few years ago when we were in their shoes, standing on a front porch and deliberating about if we should make the largest purchase of our lives and raise our family in the house that we had spent a grand total of 45 minutes inside. Real estate is pretty insane like that.
It was strange thinking of these complete strangers just wandering through our house; through our kitchen where we throw impromptu dance parties with our little girls, onto the patio that we built to enjoy our sunsets, into the bedroom where we painted pink rainbows on the walls, and inside the rooms where so much of our life has happened.
If these walls could speak, they’d tell a lot about what they’ve seen of us. But alas, walls can not speak (probably for the best) and the next family will create their own countless memories in the exact same space, oblivious to all that has happened here before them.
Real estate is pretty insane like that.