My Personal Finance Journey

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Contributed by mm | October 6, 2005 2:23 PM PST

It is beyond my wildest expectations: our house was listed during Monday night and was gone by Wednesday morning! During the period, 10 families toured our house, and 4 were bidding for it -- it was finally sold at $420,000, with buyer paying all commissions on top of that, with no home inspection contingency and no financing contingency!

Before you question whether I left some money on the table, let me explain that even I was running this as for-sale-by-owner, I did take advantage of some free "competitive market analysis" offers from local realtors before pricing my house. Most realtors quoted me $420,000, and of course, with the 6% commission baked into it. $420,000 itself actually already represented 5% hike from recent sales of two identical houses four months ago at $400,000 (we live in a newly developed community with lots of similar/identical houses as reference points).

To have an apple-to-apple comparison between the recent sales and the deal I grabbed, we are talking about my net of $420,000 (before excise tax and closing costs) and about $380,000 from recent sales after taking out 6% sales commission. 10% jump in a matter of several months isn't bad at all!

I'll be summarizing some tips for future FSBO sellers, but let me share some observations from the hectic 42 hours between listing and signing the dotted line:

- It is totally a seller's market. There is extremely low inventory -- in the city I'm living, only about 4 houses of similar size was on the market when I listed my house. On the other hand, lots of buyers are literally refreshing their screens by the minute waiting for new listings to come up -- I received two phone calls within the first hour of listing.

- Buyers don't seem to care about price now. At least two families promised to me that they will "beat any other offers" immediately after they toured the house. Three written offers included "escalation clause."

- The craziness of the sitatution is more evidently reflected in the waiver of home inspection contingency -- two potential buyers waived the contingency, which is designed to give buyers a way out if the property has major flaws. It is hardly conceivable that in a rational market people will not hire a professional to examine maybe the largest purchase in their lifetime. The best offer even waived the financial contingency -- my final buyer stands to lose the entire $10,000 of earnest money if he cannot get the financing in place. Of course, I'm more than happy to mitigate my risks -- the default financing contingency will push people back to the negotiation table if the bank's appraiser does not agree on the purchase price.

I really didn't expect such a frenzy (and positive outcome) like this -- my original expectation is net $410,000. I don't regret selling; actually, the whole process left me a sense of irrational exuberance. The market is red hot, but can it sustain?

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This Post Has Received 14 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.

Guest Commented on October 6, 2005

take the money and run baby! A few weeks ago, I commented that I converted all my equity holdings to cash and was sitting on cash because my "spidy" sense was tingling that the market was about to tank. Call me lucky or psychic or crazy gambler but the Dow has dropped 300 points in the last few days. More bleeding coming next few weeks.

you did right by selling, the real estate craze is coming to an end very soon. Fed Fisher hinted the Fed might raise interest rates by 50 basis point instead of the usual 25 at the next meeting in November......

JC Commented on October 6, 2005

Curious: how did you "list"? Ordinarily FSBO's don't have access to the MLS (to my knowledge). So what did you do to get the word out that you had a house on the market?

Excellent outcome. Probably excellent timing as well if the RE bubble does indeed deflate soon.


Flexo Commented on October 6, 2005

Congratulations on getting it done so quickly and successfully!

G Commented on October 6, 2005

Hey congratulations! I am a big fan of your site. I loved your series on buying a new car. Actually all the posts are great. Keep up the good work!

2million Commented on October 7, 2005

WOW! One the one hand congrats mm, on the other I get nervous when I hear stories like this - I can't help but recall this W Buffet quote: "Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful". Its spooky.

Dee Commented on October 7, 2005

Congrtulations! I really enjoy your site- especially this article. I'm planning to sell my house FSBO myself, but I haven't done this before. I have a couple of questions.
1) Did you list with mls and/ or FSBO website?
2) How about a Sunday newspaper ad?
3) How did you get away from paying the buyer's agent's commission?
4) How does the earnest money work? Do they write you a check?
Thank you!

AA Commented on October 7, 2005

Can you comment on the general location or area that the house was located in?

Wes Commented on October 7, 2005

I had a similar experience selling my condo a few months ago. The most recent comparable in the complex went for 162,000. I knew my place was in better condition and had 4 bathrooms compared to the usual 1.5 or 2.5. I was FSBO and in no rush since I already closed on my new house. I almost listed at 169k, then thought about 179k, then my wife said “just go for 185”, which I did. We had an open house scheduled for two days after the posting. Within 12 hours of the posting we had a walkthrough and an offer at asking!!

We went through with the open house anyway and we could have had a bidding war if we wanted to, but we didn’t.

The bad news is that the appraisal only came in at 170k. The buyer couldn’t make up the difference so we ended up at 180k for the final sales price. I could have re-listed but the expense and trouble wouldn’t have made financial sense.

Btw, I listed in the “real estate” section of our local paper which also provides on online advertisement with pictures. In addition, I linked the online ad to a one page web site that had lots of pictures and great adjectives describing the place.

Also, before listing we hit all the important points:
- low, easy music on in all the rooms
- fresh coat of paint in the rooms that needed it
- empty out the closets & pantry
- clean, clean, clean
- shine, shine, shine
- turn on all the lights
- replaced an old ceiling fan with a new chandalier
- we even painted the inside of the garage

JWM Commented on October 7, 2005

Way to go on your sale! I think you're wise to sell.

Shi Commented on October 8, 2005

Good work! Congrats. We were one of the bidders I guess. In fact that night itself me and my husband casually thought if its you (The PFblog guy). We both are financially smart people as well but were ready to buy a house at its lifetime highest value for our daughter. She thought your backyard was a park. Also, I still think buying a house to live in it is always a smart idea than renting. Anyways, we lost the bid even when the amount offered was almost the same. We read PFblog so often that we could make out it was you. Do you guess now who are we? Nice meeting you finance guy! As of now we and you are running neck and neck for the million. Let's see where does our finance take us.

MM Commented on October 8, 2005

Shi -- I'm not so certain but we can keep the mystery part. Good luck on your house hunting!

Hank Commented on October 9, 2005

AA: MM has said that he lives in the Seattle metro area working for MS.

Shi Commented on October 9, 2005

If its Eastside, we offered escalation clause first. 'A' (my husband) sent in written offer the night on tour itself. We have stopped hunting now and hoping for a downfall in market which sure should happen some day.

Jessie B Commented on December 8, 2005

It' nice to hear a good story and outcome. I think it's important for every one reading this that you understand he did everything that a normal agent would do: A) Priced it right. B) Cleaned it up C) Was organized and prepared. D) marketed the property. Very good lessons for everyone thinking of selling FSBO. Soon home buyers will begin to understand that they are stand to benefit going FSBO also... as mentioned in the previous post... buyers are paying an average of 10-20K in the price for the "support".

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