5309 Larkspur in Hermitage Estates was my family’s last home. We sold it in April 2009 after 180 days on the market. In that time, we went through a series of price reductions from a hopeful $175,000 to a more realistic $160,000. We had 20+ showings with almost uniformly positive feedback. But offers didn’t come and most of the potential buyers had to sell their house first, desired a larger backyard, or didn’t see the third bedroom as true bedroom space – it had French doors and was furnished as a home office. One couple came to the house three or four times but finally decided to pursue a distressed sale in a nearby neighborhood of newly built homes.
But we prepped and cleaned for each showing, polished our online photos, put out hundreds of flyers, made periodic price cuts and decorated the third bedroom as a bedroom and in the warmer Spring market received an offer and came to terms with the buyers.
We didn’t get the price we hoped, or the price we would have commanded in 2007, but we did sell our house. Hermitage Estates has both houses and villas – which is a term used locally to define ranch homes with mandatory monthly fees for lawn care and snow removal. The villas sell more quickly than the houses in this neighborhood. This year there have been two sales in the neighborhood – our former house and one villa. There are two pending sales, both villas. There are three active listings, two houses and one villa. The houses still on the market have been listed for sale for eight and thirteen months. One is two doors down from 5309 Larkpsur.
We closed at $158,000 and we paid $3,000 towards the buyers closing costs. That’s a true purchase price of $155,000.
Of course there were expenses:
- a 3% commission to a buyer’s agent: $4,740
- closing fees at a local title company: $1,155
- tax proration for taxes accrued but not billed: $2,800
- repairs: ~$1500
By the time it was all said and done, we brought $3,435 to close. That’s right, we paid someone to take our house.
But we didn’t really. We bought the house in 2003 for $148,000 so we actually made a small profit. But we took a second mortgage a few years ago. The $21,587 balance on that loan, along with the $127,535 payoff on our first mortgage were more than covered by the purchase price. But factor in the expense to sell and the money we took out of the house as a second mortgage made it difficult to sell – it would have been impossible if we couldn’t come up with $3,435 the day of closing. And most commonly a seller would pay more – we paid just one commission and not two.
It’s a tough truth that many people are in a situation where they can’t sell their house for enough to payoff their mortgage/s and cover the costs to sell. In that case the decision to sell and bring money to close or to stay in the house when you want or need move is a personal one. No realtor can help you make that decision. But if you’d like an honest assesment of what your property might sell for in the current market, a good realtor can help you see what similar homes have sold for recently, and help you understand your options.