Moving, Selling, & Buying
Holy cow, did we just sell our house?
(I’ll pause while Sherry flails around since that sentence is a trigger).
Now that we’re through the inspection & the appraisal (and the closing date is officially on the calendar), we’re finally at the point that we feel safe enough to shout it to the interwebs (we waited until this point to share the “we sold our house” news last time too). Of course nothing’s guaranteed until we’re all signing on the dotted line in early June, but so far, so good…
First, some background: Sherry was set on selling our house FSBO (For Sale By Owner) again. She argued that we stood to save nearly ten grand – or even more – by not owing a Realtor the 6% commission. Even if we sold to a buyer with an agent (like we did last time) we’d only be out 3% instead of 6%… so the numbers were pretty compelling. But I still wasn’t so sure. I remembered the stress that we felt last time and was also curious to experience selling with an agent. We came to a compromise. We decided we’d try straight up FSBO for a week. If that didn’t work, we’d list it on MLS for a few hundred bucks ourselves (which is what got us a buyer last time) and if there still weren’t offers a few weeks later, we’d think about engaging a Realtor.
Now for the timeline details:
Friday, April 26: The Realtor who helped us buy our new house (Anne) checks in to see if our current house is on the market yet (she knew we were hoping to sell it sometime this spring). Turns out she has some buyers looking for a ranch and she thinks ours would be perfect. We tell her that we’ll be sharing the news/putting it on the market in four days. She says she’ll call us back if they want to see it then. This is a reenactment. And it makes Sherry cry laugh.
Saturday & Sunday, April 27 & 28: We spend the weekend furiously getting last minute projects done, on the off chance that we get any quick interest (we’ll write up a whole post about what we did to “stage” our house for a showing soon).
Now here’s where the days become a bit more action-packed…
Monday, April 29
- 2 pm: Anne the Realtor calls. Her buyers are very excited about seeing our house. She wants to bring them by the next day at 2pm. Yikes!
- 2:30 pm: Come down from the high of our first scheduled showing to realize we haven’t made a flyer or decided on a sale price. Uhh…. better get on that.
- 3 pm: Begin frantically cleaning the house. Since when did Clara have so many toys? And where would we be without storage ottomans?
- 9:30 pm: After some scrambling and looking at comparable homes for sale, we pick a list price and throw together a flyer.
- 12:30 am: Computer freezes while attempting to print flyer. File is lost. Too tired to recreate.
Tuesday, April 30
- 7 am: Up early-ish to recreate flyer and proofread our post with the new house news.
- 9 am: Flyer is printed. House still doesn’t look clean enough. More cleaning commences.
- 10 am: Post is up and comments are rolling in faster than we can keep up with them, but the caulk around the tub is too grimy. Where’s the caulk gun?
- 1:30 pm: House is looking presentable, but we’re a sweaty mess. Good thing Anne the Realtor will be doing the showing.
- 1:45 pm: Anne arrives early (as planned) for us to show her some of the improvements since she last visited.
- 1:55 pm: Buyers are early (not as planned) so we high-tail it out of there so they can look around without us hovering.
- 2 pm: Since we have Burger with us as well as Clara, we kill time at a nearby dog-friendly walking mall. We have some fun browsing places like Banana Republic (where Clara and Burger try out the three way mirror) and Build-A-Bear (without actually building a bear, which is a parental coup if we’ve ever had one).
- 3 pm: It’s a full hour later – and Clara’s naptime – but we haven’t received a call from Anne that we’re clear to come home. We try giving her a ring but our call goes to voicemail.
- 3:15 pm: Clara’s late for her nap and she’s getting tired of being at the mall. We assume Anne forgot to call us and drive home.
- 3:30 pm: We turn onto our street to see Anne and the buyers just getting into their cars. Wow. An hour and a half at a first showing seems pretty good. Maybe they liked it!
- 3:31 pm: Anne calls to say they really liked it and they were going to sleep on it, crunch some numbers, and get back to us.
- 4 pm: We’re excited and relieved, but have tons of comments to catch up on. Plus, we’ve had a few other house-interest emails from locals. We’re a pretty even mix of grateful, tired, and nervous.
- 8pm: We’ve sent out a few other flyers via email and have scheduled another showing for 11am the next morning. How did this house get so messy already? Oh yeah, our three year old…
- Midnight: House is reasonably clean again. We crash for the day.
Wednesday, May 1
- 5 am: Sherry can’t sleep thinking about all of the new house projects and potential buyer excitement. She begins drafting a Q&A post for you guys.
- 5:30am: I get up to go to the gym before the girls wake up. Clearly I missed Sherry rolling out of bed already.
- 7:30am: I’m back. Clara’s up. Time to get her fed and ready to go on an adventure with Grammy.
- 10am: Post is up. Clara’s with Grammy. Counters need wiping down post-breakfast. House is ready for its second showing.
- 11am: Potential buyers show up with their agent. Sherry, Burger, and I go for a walk (pretend this is a picture of Sherry, me, and Burger instead of a shot with Clara and no Sherry).
- 11:30am: Get a call from someone that we sent a flyer to last night while we’re out on our walk. They want to come see the house that afternoon. Woo hoo!
- Noon: Second showing is done. Agent says they liked it a lot, and have to talk to their lender with some questions. I let the agent know there’s another interested buyer but that no offers have come in yet.
- 2:30pm: Clara is back from Grammy’s and the third potential buyers show up. They don’t have an agent, so I show them around the house while the girls go walking with Burger. Sherry’s getting lots of exercise today!
- 3pm: Third showing is done. They seem to like it, but don’t appear as interested as the other two families.
- 3:30pm: Anne the Realtor calls. She’s sending us an offer from the first couple who walked through our house yesterday. It’s strong, but $5k below our asking price. “Thanks so much! We’ll get back to you soon!” is our response (while we sweat profusely).
- 4pm: We think things through and discuss everything a few dozen times. I call the buyer’s agent from the morning showing just to let him know that we have an offer on the table. He asks me to hold tight, they’ll have one for us within a few hours. Whaaa?!!!
- 7pm: Second offer comes in. It’s not as strong as the first. Bummer, but at least it helps make the decision clear. We call Anne back, tell her we have another offer, and ask if we can meet in the middle on the price ($3k above their offer, which is just $2k below our asking price).
- 7:15pm: Anne calls to say that the buyers have agreed to the new price and she’ll be bringing over papers for us to sign in an hour!
- 8:30pm: We sign about twenty papers with our minds spinning. Our house is officially under contract! And it’s less than 36 hours after our first showing. In our heads we’re doing a celebratory Elaine-from-Seinfeld dance, but in reality we’re too tired to move.
Now we just have a bunch of little things to check off of our list (a few inspection items, ordering a final termite inspection, and of course packing things up and getting moved into the new house). Should be a busy month!
I can’t tell you how grateful and relieved we are at how quickly and smoothly this second FSBO process has been so far (just like last time we’ll pay 3% to the buyer’s agent, but we saved nearly 10K by marketing the house ourselves and acting as our own seller’s agent). We hear the market is really coming back and it’s a great time to sell, so for anyone wondering, many other homes in our area seem to be getting contracts within a week or even a few days of listing them assuming they’re priced right and show nicely. So hopefully that’s good news for everyone!
We assumed we might end up selling our house to a reader who came to us through the blog, but hilariously enough, just like when we sold our first house, our buyer isn’t a blog reader and didn’t find out about our house because of our site at all. It was just coincidence (serendipity?) that we kept our Realtor in the loop and she happened to have a buyer looking for an updated one-level ranch like ours. So it might also be nice to hear that you definitely don’t need a blog to sell your house, although I’m sure the updates that we did certainly helped us sell it.
So far this experience feels like a stark contrast to our first time selling a home back in 2010. That took us 14 showings over more than 3 weeks, and a variety of promotional attempts (craigslist, forsalebyowner.com, MLS, a sign out front, etc). It was stressful, but even then we were grateful that it didn’t drag on for months. So we certainly are counting our lucky stars for the speed at which things happened with this house! As of right now we’re planning to move to our new house in around three weeks. Holy cow, we better start packing!
Holy cow did you guys have questions about the whole selling/moving/buying process since yesterday’s little announcement! So we decided an FAQ post would answer as many as we could. We originally planned to share it tomorrow but you guys are still sending questions our way so furiously that we decided to share this guy today and our regularly scheduled DIY post will go up in the morning. So heeeeeeeere we go! #warningitslong
Q: Will you sell your current house by owner like you did with your first house?
Since it worked out so well for us last time, we’d love to! So other than possibly paying a few hundred dollars to have it listed on MLS again, we’re planning to market it and show it ourselves (we’ve actually already had three showings, so our fingers are crossed). We don’t even have a For Sale sign out front yet since we have been doing private showings to realtors and interested locals who are contacting us directly, so it’s kinda weird. Haha!
Q: Did you consider renting out your current house instead of selling it? We did! But we talked to a few realtors who said that a few homes in our neighborhood that were for rent were having a hard time holding tenants since the lots were so big (renters in our area typically want very small yards so there’s less for them to mow/maintain). So we shifted our focus to selling since things in our neighborhood seem to be picking up in that department (many homes are selling fast nearby, so we’re hoping ours follows suit).
Q: When will you move in?
We have to sell our current house first and think showing it with furniture will help that process (plus we don’t want to move all of our furniture to the new house and then have the sale fall through). So our best guess would be that we’ll (hopefully) move into our new house in June, although it really all depends on when we sell and when our closing date is. But we’re already working on the new house as well as finishing things up around here, so along with all the staging/showing/selling posts about our current house, there will definitely be new house projects, plans, and pictures working their way into the mix. Ahhh, it gets me so excited to type that!
Q: Wait, are you selling your current house fully furnished!? Sorry! I made a comment about wanting to keep our furniture here in order to sell it faster on yesterday’s post and it sounded like we were selling it furnished but I quickly updated it in the hopes of squashing that self-started rumor. Haha! We’re not selling it furnished, we just want furniture in the house when it’s for sale (since empty houses traditionally sell slower and for less money) – but although we’re bringing our furniture with us a lot of things will be in different places in the new house since the layout is so different, which should be fun to play around with!
Q: How many square feet is it? How can it be the same square footage as your current house when it looks so much bigger?! It’s almost exactly the same square footage of our current house, which we love (it’s around 2,500 square feet). It’s just that our current house has an 1,000 square foot addition hiding in the back that you can’t see at all from the front, so that’s why it looks almost as small as our first house (which was half the size). Meanwhile the new house doesn’t have anything hiding in the back and instead has a second floor that’s in plain sight from the street, which makes it look a lot bigger.
Q: Your new house is so pretty on the outside you won’t have a thing to do to upgrade it! That’s the funny thing about cropped photos. Below is a panned out shot that shows that there’s definitely work to be done. So we think the outside will keep us nice and busy too…
Q: Tell me more about what made you love this house in this neighborhood. Would you have taken any house in that area, or did it have to be the right one? We definitely wouldn’t have just taken anything in our budget because we always want a house that works for our family (right house in the wrong neighborhood is sort of the same womp-womp as the right neighborhood but the wrong house). So the sweet spot was finding both. And when we pulled down the street and saw this baby at the end of the cul-de-sac (zero through traffic! a spot for Clara to ride a bike! a bug-hunting mecca for Burger!) we were completely smitten. And when the layout inside didn’t disappoint, we practically lunged for the offer papers. She might not look like much right now, but we think she’s going to clean up real nice :)
Q: How did you keep this a secret?! This was BY FAR the hardest part for us! There were so many moments I wanted to over-share every detail with you guys as we went! This house sort of came out of nowhere, very quickly. We were very casually looking since we anticipated not needing something ’til this summer (or later). Then we saw it we had that moment of “we either go for it or be okay with losing it!” And we realized we weren’t okay with losing it. We actually closed on it in the fall (now can you see how hard this secret was to keep?!?!?) but we had a million balls in the air (a book tour in progress, a bunch of projects for our current house that we wanted to finish before we announced/sold, and a few immediate upgrades to deal with in the new house like a leaking roof, a bad furnace, an alarm install and an opossum in the crawl space (all of which we can’t wait to post about in detail for you guys).
We actually debated spilling the beans about things a lot sooner but we worried it would make us feel torn in half (wanting to stay focused on finishing and selling our current house, but knowing many of you would’ve mentally “moved on” to the new house). We also had to think about things like safety (we just weren’t comfortable telling the entire internet that we had a new house that would be unoccupied for a big chunk of time). So we made the call that waiting, as challenging as it was, was best for our family, this blog, and our new house’s safety. And that way we could focus and knock out what we needed to do here before shifting into “new house mode” when we were ready. Boy does it feel good to be in that mode now. I ran around the house singing this song.
Q: Last time you closed on your current house on the same day that the new owners closed on your old house, but this time it you bought the new house before selling your current house. What went into that decision? Once we were 100% sure that this was The House, we knew putting in a bid with a contingency that we had to sell our current house would weaken our offer. And we didn’t want to lose that house! There was actually another offer on it, so we knew we needed to have a strong and compelling offer to get it and we didn’t want to offer over asking price, so we decided that going into it without a contingency to sell our house would make for a compelling offer. We were so glad that the bank finally recognized us both as full time self employed people (we’ve been doing this blog thing full time together for nearly 3 years), which was a very different situation then when we bought our first and current house (more on that here) – and it was amazing to get the “you guys got it!” call.
Obviously carrying two mortgages for any period of time isn’t fun. But we triple-checked our savings before bidding to make sure we could handle it and found other ways to save. For instance, if we’re able to sell our current house by owner like we did for our first house, we stand to save ourselves more than all the extra mortgage payments that we’ve been making combined (since we won’t have to pay a seller’s agent commission). Plus, those overlapping mortgage payments are helping us pay down our loan (yay equity!), so it’s not like money going out without a return (like renting or writing a seller’s agent check).
Q: I need more details! We know, and we’re itching to give them. But please understand that we won’t be discussing certain identifying details on our blog (like what neighborhood it’s in or specific info about our closing) because we want to keep some semblance of privacy intact, so we’re resisting the urge to over-share in that regard this time! We know that you guys understand that we need to keep some personal details private and we appreciate all of you who respect that. We’d be naive to think someone couldn’t dig up the info if they really wanted to (real estate is public record), but we’re not going to hand anyone anything on a silver platter over here. Haha! Thankfully our current address was leaked even before we moved into this house back in 2010 and we haven’t had a single issue and our alarm system gives us amazing peace of mind (let’s just say it talks to us and has eyes for us). And then there’s our ferocious guard dog…
Q: When was it built? How many bedrooms and bathrooms does it have? It was built 32 years ago and it has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms (so there’s actually one less tub for me to clean). The main bathroom on the first floor is a half bath, which I’m already dreaming of redoing… once we strip all the wallpaper!
Q: How much do you think you’ll make selling your current house thanks to all the improvements you put into it? That would make a fun post! Just like this post that we shared when we sold our first house, we’re definitely excited to see how it all pans out and spill all the details about how much we put into this house in home improvements vs. how much those upgrades affected the sale price. Based on the interest in our current house (we’ve had three showings!) realtors seem to think that our listing price is good so we’re hopeful there might even be a smidge of profit in there this time!
Q: Is it sad to leave Clara’s big girl room without her moving in? From the moment we moved in back in 2010, we always intended for that room to be a playroom (even though it somehow turned into a junk room for 2 years, oops!) so it has been awesome to finally enjoy that space and use it the way we always intended. Even if Clara isn’t quite ready to sleep in there yet, she has logged lots of play-time in there and if she had moved in there we’d have an empty nursery, so either way we knew she couldn’t sleep in both spaces so one would be a playroom while the other serves as her bedroom. The nice thing is that everything comes with us except for the walls, so since we didn’t do anything structural in there (like add a built-in accent wall or bunk-bed system) or cover the walls with anything fancy that stays behind (ex: cool wallpaper or a big wall mural) it can all end up at the new house with us.
Q: What about all the things that you did to this house that you can’t take with you? Like the penny tile and the new fireplace and the pergola? We love love love those things, and will definitely be sad to leave them, but we did them ourselves – which means we can always tackle them again (and alter them in new ways) for the new house if we want them there. We’re just suckers for showing a house some love, so we would never want to live anywhere and “hold back” on doing things just because we can’t take them with us (for us, doing them is half the fun sometimes). So it’s nice to spend the time that we have with those beauties while we live in the house, and know that they’ll live on. I’m deeply comforted by the fact that we can always drive by and wave at the pergola. Yeah, that’s definitely going to happen.
Q: I’d love to see a post talking about which of your recent projects you did for resale value and why you chose them. Nearly everything we’ve done recently has been on our to-do list for over a year. So they weren’t things we added to our roster for resale – they were just things we knew we’d love to tackle, many of them from the day that we moved in. So it was less about which projects we chose to do for resale (none really) and more about which projects from our to-do list that we decided to move ahead with. For example, converting a storage room into a useful playroom and upping the curb appeal wouldn’t hurt, but double siding the fireplace (which would involve a mason and a contractor since it’s load bearing) felt like more of an “if we were staying longer we’d love to do it” item. So there were a few things that we didn’t think made financial sense to do right now but we did pretty much everything else on our to-do list that we hoped to do. We’ll share a final rundown of Listy McListerson with everything checked off, and at the bottom we’re planning to put all the “would have been nice” items that we skipped – but secretly hope the new owners end up doing so we can house crash them. Haha!
Q: Will you guys miss the convenience of a ranch and having everything on one floor? We think it’ll be fun to try out a completely new house layout since our first and second house were pretty similar to each other. And I’m sure there will be tons of things that we miss about having a ranch, but we’re excited to see how a two-story house works for our family. We love that the laundry room is on the second floor with all of the bedrooms, which was one thing we really liked about ranches (not taking piles of laundry up and down stairs).
We also secretly hope that the upstairs will help us with separating work from family stuff, so we think we’ll institute a no-laptops-upstairs rule. Since we’re only twenty steps from our office when we step out of bed in our current house, it’ll be nice to be a whole floor away from it in our new house. And it’ll be awesome not to have to clean the whole house when people come over (if they’ll just be on the main level, we can shut the bedroom doors upstairs and ignore the mess like we did when we grew up in two story houses, haha).
Whew! So that should do it! Hope that helped guys. And we can’t wait to share a floor plan and all the crazy wallpaper-and-blue-trim-laden before pics with you guys while we finish things off at our current house and get this baby sold. Fingers crossed…