Selling the House


I’ve been thinking about selling the house for about a year now, and seriously working towards it for a few months.  I really wanted to get it on the market in the spring, but it took so long to clean up the basement, get the electrical work done, and finish other projects to get the house looking good and ready to sell.

I called Slade, the realtor I used when I bought the house, and he came over today to take a look and talk about price and all.

With my housing data spreadsheets, I had calculated that the house was probably worth around $200,000 or maybe a little more.  Slade figured the same thing based on the comparable sales he looked at.  But he thought we should start at $215,000 and see what happens.


House is on the market today at $215,000.


Got my first showing today.


Well, after American Home Mortgage filed bankruptcy last week and Wall Street started freaking out, rumor was that the secondary mortgage market ground to a complete halt for a few days!  At any rate, subprime mortgages are now history as far as I can tell.  There goes most of my potential buyers, lovely.


Slade did an open house today (we waited a while because he was out of town and then my parents were here).  Nobody came though.  We decided to lower the price.


House now listed at $204,900.


While my parents were here, one day the landscape guy from an apartment management company that runs the apartments next door came over to see if I wanted to help pay to take down the big dead poplar tree that straddles our shared property line.  He’d been getting complaints about it, apparently.

I demurred, but then someone called the city and so both the management company and I got complaint letters from the city.  No choice now.  Today we met with the tree service guy.  $2800 to take that thing down, so $1400 each.


The tree came down today.  I hated having to spend so much money, but, it’s one less thing to worry about.


Well, the house has been on the market over three months now, and no offers.  Over 20 showings so far.  Really worried that I won’t be able to sell this house.  Everyone that comes likes the house… but doesn’t like the street.

Today we dropped the price to $199,900.


Slade re-listed the house with a new number today, and we changed the listing to $199,900 plus $5000 towards closing costs.  I thought that might entice someone who is having trouble scraping together enough cash for down payment and closing costs.  When I bought the house, I offered $5000 more than asking in exchange for the sellers putting $5000 towards my closing.  But this is a different market, indeed.

We also got an offer today, but it’s not going to work out.  The offer was from some developer / speculator, and contingent on subdividing the lot (so they can build another house).  Slade and I both knew that there is an easement on my property over where the driveway is, because the sewer line runs right up my driveway.  No way the city will let them build on top of that.

Their offer gave me no protections for them screwing around, wasting my time, and then retracting their offer.  I’d get no escrow, no compensation for taking the house off the market then going back on, etc.  Slade wrote up a very careful counter-offer to  make sure that was all nailed down.


Slade got a call from another agent from the same real estate office, who also was considering giving us an offer.  Same kind of setup though, wanting to subdivide the lot.  Slade told her why don’t you go down to the city and check that out before you waste our time with an offer?

A few hours later, that was all sorted out, on both counts.  Can’t subdivide the lot.


Lowered the price to $189,900 today.

Over 45 showings so far, nearly six months on the market, and still no real offers.  It is difficult to think positively.  I continue to plan two possible futures: selling and renting, or staying and slogging it out.


Lots of showings since we lowered the price again, up to about 65 total now.  Maybe there’s hope yet.  I have a spreadsheet that shows me what kind of profit I might have left at various sale-price levels and time periods (relating to how much of the mortgages are paid off).  I still have some room to go before I hit break-even.  The question is, how low do I have to go to get a buyer, and is it more than what it takes to get me out of the house?


At last, an offer!  Had a showing last night, number 72 if my count is correct, and they made an offer today.

They need some help with closing costs, so essentially the house is selling for $184,200, plus $5700 towards closing.


The buyers inspection was today.  Hope it went well.  No water in the basement, at least.


I’ve started looking at rental houses on Craigslist.  Trying to find something for roughly the same monthly payment as my mortgages.  Of course, without the tax breaks, it will really be costing me more, but I think I can handle it.  So looking at around $1200 to $1300 a month.

There’s quite a few houses out there in that range… problem is, most of them are way out in Felony Flats or way out on the west side somewhere.  There’s one closer in that might be ok, I’m going to go take a look at it on Sunday.


Looked at that rental house today.  Wasn’t too bad, except the basement stairs are outside, and the washer and dryer would be down there in the unfinished basement.  Not relishing the idea of having to go outside to do laundry… in the rain, cold, wind…


Buyers had some repair requests.  Could have been worse, but still a hassle, and more money to spend.  Slade came over and we did one of the plumbing things ourselves, which was removing a shutoff valve on the hot water line coming out of the hot water heater.  Earlier I had also taken care of another repair request which was installing seismic straps on the hot water heater.


I had a plumber come today to do the remaining plumbing item, which was fixing a slow leak in the shutoff valve where the water line comes into the basement.  I called Mr. Rooter.  $300, but the guy showed up in about an hour and banged the thing out.


Another repair request was building a guardrail for the basement stairs.  There’s a wall on one side, with a handrail, but the other side is open.  I got the impression that they aren’t really that concerned about the safety issue, they were just worried the appraisal might not go through without it.  Whatever.  Anyway, I started working on that today.


Looked at another rental house today.  Better than the first one.  There were people leaving when I arrived and people arriving when I left, so I’m sure it will go fast.

Meanwhile I have a call in on another house that looks very promising.  I’m just worried I won’t get it.  The rental management company has not been very responsive.


Called the rental management company on that other house this morning and she said oh he is showing it today at 10:00.  Well why isn’t he showing it to me?!

Last night, I printed off the application form from their website and filled it out.  On my way over there today, I stopped to make a copy of my W2 and drivers license as indicated on their application.  I wanted to make sure I had everything ready to go.

The guy was just about to leave when I showed up.  He had showed it to two sets of people that morning, but no one filled out an application.  I said well I got mine right here!

We toured the house.  Looks nice, on a great street, and easy walk to the MAX, all for $1050.

They called me a couple hours later and said I got it.  Sweet.


Also on the repair addendum was shoring up the sagging center beam in the garage.  Slade and I talked about doing it ourselves.  He called a contractor guy he knows to discuss it, and later told me that guy could do it for $500.  I said great, let him do it.  I’ve got my hands full already just trying to pack and move and handle other things with the house.

So the guy came out today.  The beam was sagging about two inches mid-span.  He jacked it up most of the way, then put in a 6x6 post.


Started moving today.  Brian from work came over with his minivan and we took a load to the new house.  Spent the rest of the day packing.


The big move day today, with a UHaul truck.  Jonah from work came and helped me pack the truck and then unload.  Colin from work came over and helped us finish unloading, and then we made a second trip.  I made another trip in the evening with my car, mainly to get clothes that were hanging in the closets, plus other odds and ends that didn’t get in the truck.


Spent most of the day cleaning the old house.  Not fun.


Went to do my part of the closing today.  Much less paperwork to sign for selling than buying.  Almost there now… can hardly believe I’m really finally selling the house.


Went to the old house for the last time today.  Checked the mailbox, and dropped off my keys and garage remote.


House closed today.  So glad to be done with this.

Listing Price and Showings

Listing Price and Showings