I'm a little superstitious. And for some reason get real super nervous about house sales even though this is only the second house I've bought and sold. Or perhaps that is the reason. I don't know. The bottom line, I didn't really want to talk about the house while it was under agreement. Not even in person. But now that it has been officially sold, here it goes:
We were a little concerned about putting our house up for sale in the fall vs. the spring. But the truth is people buy houses all year round and renting it just didn't make sense in our situation. So we put it up for sale on a Friday. Our realtor liked the house (I think he called it "sexy"more than once) and sensed we might have multiple offers so he advised we hold off offers until Tuesday afternoon. Make potential buyers shake in their boots I guess.
There was an open house on Sunday with at least 100+ people walking through. By Tuesday we had 8 offers. One was so crazy over our asking price we actually had to decline it since we couldn't be sure the house would appraise for that amount. We couldn't decide which offer to go with and per our realtor's advice sent all the offers back and asked for their "highest and best" which seemed a little risky or greedy, but by the next day we had 8 even better offers (crazy offer aside).
What I learned in the process:
Not all realtors are created equal. Ours was phenomenal. He was a very busy man, but always made us feel like we were his only clients. He answered emails, phone calls, and text messages at the drop of the hat. He was smart, courteous, discreet, and very hard working. Multiple reasons why 5 different acquaintances have worked with him in the past and couldn't say enough good stuff about the man. (ask me if you ever need a reference)
Massachusetts over-regulates. This I kind of knew already. I guess you either love it or hate it. You can argue its only to protect the consumer, but at some point it's like enough already, Massachusetts. Let me handle this. In most states (I believe) realtors are allowed to handle the purchase and sale documents. Massachusetts requires a lawyer to do this. So not only as sellers did we pay both realtors commissions (5% of the sale), but we also had to pay for an attorney ($1000). Then we also paid for a smoke detector home certification in which the fire department comes out and verifies our smoke detectors are up to code, a fee to the city for processing our water and sewer bill on our closing date and pay it in cash, in person at City Hall, and a few other items like that. When I sold my house in Indiana, myself, 9 years ago I didn't need a lawyer or a realtor let alone the other certifications.
Don't listen to what everyone says. Before we hired our realtor we spoke to the two realtors that sold us the house a few years ago. They felt very strongly that we needed to add a half bath to our house in order for it to be truly marketable (the house is 3 beds, 1 bath, 1330 sf.). They seriously drove this point home many times. Even showed us data to prove that no house with only one bath in our zip code sold above a certain cap in recent years.
But in the end buyers didn't seem to care, even liked the main floor laundry in lieu of a half bath. And we blew that "cap" sale price out of the water :) Hah! I guess what I'm trying to say is you just never know for sure what plusses are going to outweigh what minuses when it comes to individual tastes. It only takes one buyer to appreciate your decisions.
The market is crazy right now. Especially for "starter home" type houses. First time home-buyers are getting itchy with these low interest rates and there's very little inventory. Why? I once heard the average time a house is owned is 7 years. About 7 years ago the market peaked. Meaning house values are lower now than they were 7 years ago. I'm guessing many people who would normally be selling right now are hanging on to their houses, waiting for them to go back up in value. This was lucky for us. Not a lot of competition out there.
I won't deny the advantage of having luck on your side. A lot of people have told us just how lucky we are. But I would also like to think we were smart about this purchase. This was a 3 bedroom house, 5 miles from downtown Boston in a safe neighborhood. Single-family houses in our low price range, that close to Boston are few and far between and we knew it was a good buy. It was dated for sure and that probably scared away a lot of buyers (lucky for us again) but it was in great shape and we were ready to make it shine.
The sale officially closed on New Years Eve. Poignant, I guess. We were already on the road when it happened. January is named after the god "Janus" who had two faces, one looking back and one looking forward. It was hard to leave our beloved home but I think we're all done looking back now. Nothing but blue skies ahead...Arizona adventures here we come!