Selling Our Home

Since we are all blog readers and stalkers, it should come as no surprise that the agents I interviewed unanimously agreed in today's market, selling a home is all about the internet. Gone are the day's when people open the Sunday paper to find an open house....well, maybe a few do, but most of us know how to search and stalk homes online. And that makes it all about the picture.

My agent's company has an in-house photographer that shoots all of their listings. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the company photo's and included hiring a professional photographer as a requirement to earn our listing. The photographer she hired was amazing and I really liked working with him. The goal is about selling open space not personal taste so nothing on the counters, all lights on, and shoot from the furthest point possible. 

I told my agent that I only had one chance to get this right. We purchased our home in a hot real estate market and it looked like we were headed into one again....fifteen years later. I left nothing to chance the house was about to have its biggest audition. The home went on the MLS's on a Monday with specific instructions, "No showings until the Realtors Tour on Friday". There was an open house on that Sunday. 

That Friday, the Realtors Tour broke our agents record of most agents to attend. The previous record was set in 2009. Six agents brought clients with them, as well. That night we got our first offer. They say your first offer is your best, but that was not the case for us. Because our listing stated a company relocation, this potential buyer thought we were desperate for a quick sale. According to the letter that accompanied the offer, he is a Neurosurgeon with a very pregnant wife. Not only did they want to buy the home at a low price, they also wanted us out before school ended. We chose not to counter his offer. 

There were non-stop showings from Friday through the open house on Sunday and shortly after the open house, we got our second offer. It was from a professional couple and unlike the first offer, it was a good place to start. Meanwhile, the Neurosurgeon's agent was begging for a counter offer. We counter both offers at the same price. 

While couple one and two were contemplating our counter offer our home was being shown at a steady pace. It was exhausting to keep the home looking perfect and ready for show at a moments notice. 

You can see that this picture was taken before Jennifer's artwork arrived. 

I was told that a 'New York' couple was seriously interested in our home. They came to see the home multiple times. One time was in the pouring rain so they asked to come back again the next day. They submitted a good clean offer that gave us the terms we wanted. We accepted. 

The entire sales process was a little over one week. I met the couple during the home inspection. They were lovely and she even brought her father along to see the home. He and I had an interesting chat about covering a/c units in the winter :).

The only thing that I regret is that I won't be able to be their neighbor, although that would be impossible because we would want to live in the same home. 

Remember when I told you my home would sell between (A) & (B) leaving me with a specific number in my head? It sold for almost that exact number. 

The moral of this story, don't ask your Neurosurgeon for real estate advice. 

I sincerely wish the 'New York' couple all the love and happiness we felt when we lived in this home. 


How I Selected My Real Estate Agent

Hello, Hello! I'm surfacing from a sea of boxes in Naples, Florida. It has been quite the journey, but we are all happy and hot. Thankfully, there is an afternoon shower, daily, that breaks the humidity. I'll catch you up throughout the week. Today, I wanted to tell you about how I selected my real estate agent. 

The opinions I am about to share are solely my own....and they worked for me. This is not a politically correct post, it's the facts as I remember them while drinking a glass of wine. 

We had the luxury of knowing we were moving over a year in advance. There was plenty of time to declutter, stage, and of course get the word out. The latter was actually the most important. New Jersey is extremely 'Town specific'...people often move up and down in home sizes while staying within the same zip code. It is not uncommon for people to sell their homes privately via the grapevine...or letters in mailboxes, etc. Once I knew we were moving, I began saying to people in my town..."Tell everyone you know our home will be on the market early next summer". 

Moving as a company transfer offers positives and negatives. For us, one of the positives was that our realtor fees were not our responsibility. Therefore, selling privately had no benefits and would prevent our home from being seen by the largest possible audience....the MLS's. I did receive several private offer inquires, and asked that they come back when our home was listed. 

Once word was out (it's a really small town) one realtor, I'll refer to her as the 'nice lady', cold called me under the guise that we met at 'Joe's' party. For the record, I don't know Joe and wasn't invited to his party. As a former salesperson, I can always respect a cold call and agreed that when I was ready to interview agents, I would meet with her, too. 

As many of you know, I am a self-proclaimed real estate stalker....I just love looking at houses in my town and every other town and I know that many of you enjoy it, also. Because of this, I am familiar with the short list of successful agents in my area. There were only two possible agents that would probably earn my listing, but I met with five of them. Three agents were big players, one was personal.....and then there was the 'nice lady'. I told each of them that I would have an initial private meeting and would invite two of them back to give a full presentation to my husband and me. He had no interest in meeting all the others if I wasn't serious about them. Here's my thinking....real estate agents love to gossip and this would be a great way to let other agents know that my home was coming on the market. It worked. As the real estate agents chatted with each other about who would get the listing, a text message was sent prematurely to an agent (that did not get the listing) telling her that they had a buyer. Hilarious and embarrassing....for them. 

Before meeting with anyone, I decluttered and staged my home. Making a first impression for the agents was almost as important as the potential buyers. Agents can give you advice about paint, clutter, furniture arranging, etc...but they are basing a price on what they see at the moment. I also did my homework. I was fully versed in what similar homes had listed and sold for in my town. This is a much harder comparison because no two homes are exactly the same. Luckily for me, a home had just sold that was slightly larger, but on a smaller lot and a less desirable street. I'll call it (A). Another home had just come on the market that was slightly larger with a similar size lot. I'll call it (B). I knew my home would sell between (A) and (B)...only (B) was just listed and did not go under contract, so the actual sales price was yet to be determined. I had an estimated number in my head, and I never shared that number with any of the agents. I wanted them to tell me their number. 

My first meeting was with the 'nice lady'. She was very sweet and within the first five minutes it was obvious that she was way over her head. First, she had never sold a home in this town. Second, she had never done a relocation and referred to it as a simple document (this would make my buyers laugh...there was extensive additional paperwork involved). Third, her comps on other homes were from different towns and way off base. I am still trying to get that hour of my life back. 

The second agent to arrive was the number one listing agent in my town. From the moment she walked in, it was all business and she knew her business well. She brought up the exact two homes (A) & (B) that I had previously discussed. She told me that my home would sell for more than (A), and the listing price on (B) was too high for that home. She gave me a number that was slightly less than the number in my head. 

The third agent was someone with a strong presence in the area. I had my own personal opinions of her, but this was business and I could put anything aside if I thought she was the right person for the job. She clearly wanted to take control of the entire meeting and was completely thrown off base when I told her that I was only inviting two agents back to present. She also brought up houses (A) & (B) and her number was exactly the number I had in my head. I also knew that I could not work with her. 

The fourth and fifth agents (separately) were women who were respected in the area and had great reputations. Both of them missed the mark in regards to my home. I don't think that they knew what today's buyer wanted. Funny enough, both of them thought that my home would sell for what house (A) sold for, and not more. I asked each of them if they would live on the street that (A) was on, and both of them agreed that it was not a desirable street. They really could not justify how they came to their price. 

While I was deciding which agents to invite back for full presentations, house (B) went under contract. Immediately, I received a text from agent 2 saying that she would list my home for more because the market is changing fast. Shortly after that, I received a text from agent 3 saying almost the same thing. To my surprise, I also got a text from agent 4 letting me know about house (B) and also increasing her list price. Things were moving fast. 

When I called a couple of the agents to thank them and let them know that I was not going to continue the interviewing process with them, the 'nice lady' sent me an email asking for her marketing material back. I told her that I would place it on my front porch. File this under, 'I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried'. 

After the presentations, the obvious choice was agent 2, the number one agent in our area. It was clear why she was number one. It was an amazing experience working with her and I could not imagine anyone handling our sale more professionally. I'll tell you all about our sale in my next post. 

Have you had any experience hiring a real estate agent? 


Catching Up

Well, things have been quite hectic around the CIH house. In fact, I won't be calling this place Home for much longer. 

Our home sold in a little over one week from the time we began showing it. It's a long story and I'll tell you all about it in a separate post.....spoiler alert, the Neurosurgeon (that's what the letter said) won't be calling this Home

Finding the perfect agent was probably the single most important decision we made....with a close second to setting the right price. I'll tell you about my process in the next post....I interviewed five agents and there was definitely a strategy to that. 

I had what felt like an enormous amount of time to prepare myself and family for the move, and yet, the last few weeks have been packed with moving overload. Last week we signed a lease for a six month rental. That is a huge relief and soon my focus can turn to finding the right home to purchase. I do have my eye on a couple of properties (they both need tweaking) and I can't wait to get down there to see them in person. 

I have also been busy with goodbye coffee's, goodbye breakfast's, goodbye cocktails, and one goodbye dinner that my liver is still recovering from. 

I hate goodbye's and this is the part that makes leaving hard....even if it is the best family decision for all of us.

Before I leave town, I am treating myself to a Keratin hair treatment. I don't want a head full of frizz in Florida. Did you ever try one? Did you like it?

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