Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Sale By Dismayed Owner

Today my lameness hit an all time low. I was in a meeting in our executive boardroom and in my trance of rapt attention (ahem) I happened to look down at the granite board table. I noticed the huge slabs were held together by a dark substance. I couldn’t tell if it was silicone or grout so I stuck my fingernail in it. It was hard and scratchy – grout. I immediately began to think about how that particular color of tile grout would be great in a kitchen since it wouldn’t show spills, stains, grease or crumbs the same way white grout would. At that point – just thinking about the possibilities of my new kitchen, I could physically feel myself getting giddy. My heart rate increased, my skin blushed, and my breathing quickened. Then I realized what had happened – I had just gotten excited by *grout*. Oh Lord. I have so little coolness left.

But seriously – after 3 months (or almost three months) of waiting and hoping for our house to sell. Of cleaning and hosting open houses (9 to be specific). Of people tramping through our house whispering quietly to each other. Of losing summer weekends with my daughter. Of urgent “buyers” wanting to view NOW. Of offers going fizzle and potentials choosing someone else. Of looking at new home plans and going over budgets. Of meeting with realtors and the builder. Of dreaming of gourmet kitchens and a functional backyard… can you really blame me? I’m actually starting to literally dream about selling our house now, which I take as not a good indication of my current level of sanity.

When we started this journey just over two years ago, our home was listed for sale at $239,900. We thought we got “a deal” by getting a sale price of $217,500. And while we knew that selling now, in the current market, was not going to net us a lot of profit, we also knew that we were in Iowa. Not Las Vegas, not Malibu, not PhoenixIowa. Iowa could not be hit that hard. God knows we’re behind the curve on everything else so it can’t be as bad here as big ticket locations right?

So we started out with a discount broker listing at $229,900 – a full $10,000 less than what it was listed for 2.5 years ago when we bought it. We thought we were being quite reasonable. Not to mention all the things we’ve done to the house since we got it:

  • New kitchen flooring
  • New high-end stainless appliances
  • New paint in almost every room in the house
  • Updated the basement ¾ bathroom
  • New landscaping in the front and back
  • Created a “bar” area in the basement family room
  • New window dressings in every room
  • Put in a water softener
  • Tons more I’ve probably forgotten about right now

And the house already had a new driveway, all new Pella windows, tile entryway, new kitchen cabinets, California closets, etc etc. In looking at other homes in our neighborhood we thought we were offering quite a deal.

After 2.5 months of much ado about nothing, (and after some unprofessional conduct by the broker) we “parted ways” with our broker and went to list with our realtor (through whom we will be buying our new house … someday … I think). She actually told us “no” – albeit in a very nice way. She pointed out that with 7% commission (why on earth is IA real estate commission 1% higher than normal??) we would OWE money to get out of our mortgage. Not feeling right about that, she told us to just TRY selling on our own for 2 weeks. Just give it two weeks. She also advised slashing the price. In her words “Don’t try to make money on it, don’t think about what you bought it for or what you’ve put into it – just get it to sell. If its priced right you won’t need a realtor, it will sell itself”.

So, at 8:00pm last Thursday night hubby went to Lowe’s for signs and a brochure box, I put a photo ad in the local paper ($260 for only two weeks!!!), put our home up on every FSBO website I could find, created fliers for the box and at 9:00pm put our new FSBO sign in our yard. The next day we filled the brochure box and left fliers at all our local grocery stores as well as putting directional signs at every major cross street. I came up with a clever email addy for people to write to: wdsm.fsbo@gmail.com.

What did we decide to list at? $209,000. Twenty grand less than our original listing. Almost $10k less than what we paid for it before all our overhauls. It would get us out of our mortgage flat even. So I waited for the calls and emails to flood in.

Our fliers and signs went up Friday. Our ad hit the paper Sunday. How many phone calls and emails have we gotten? Well apart from other realtors trying to get us to list with them, we’ve gotten exactly NONE. Not one.

How on earth can a home list for $10k less than we paid for it over 2 years ago, have over $10k worth of updates done to the house, and us not get one %&$*$ phone call? To say hubby and I are a little dismayed and jaded (and angry, and disheartened, and disillusioned and frustrated...) is an understatement. Considering we’ve paid over $50k on our mortgage the past two years, put down $12k as an original down-payment, and are now offering to throw all that money out the window – just to break EVEN ... and are still not getting one phone call of interest … its about all we can take.

Last night hubby cautiously asked if perhaps we should just take the house off the market, let our lot in the new development go, give up our dream on building our “forever” home and just live. Just be where we are, and deal with what we’ve got - as much as its not functional for our family. At this point I can’t say as I have a good answer.

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