Lesson #4 – Realtor? On our own?


We haven’t had to sell a house on our own for our entire married life.  We have been so lucky and so thankful.  It’s a nightmare to deal with a realtor and walk throughs and negotiations.

When we were married, my husband and I bought our first ‘real’ home since I was pregnant on our lst anniversary!  Bob owned a condo in Ft. Lauderdale a block off the beach and facing the intracoastal.  Beautiful!  A small one bedroom condo…a bachelor pad really.  We decided to sell the condo and buy our first house when a Board member told us we couldn’t have a baby in the building!  Really?!  Do these all adult condos still exist?  I would think this would now be against the PC patrol guidelines.  Who knows!  Probably so in Florida with all the condo commandos…..WAIT……I’m one of those now!

This was the only property we sold on our own….second one really.  But, it was simple.  I put an ad in the NY Times and WHOA….sold in one week sight unseen.  I should have collected my commission on that sale.  Just thought of that now.

We moved every 3 1/2 years or so until we moved to Marietta, Georgia.  With each move Bob’s company told us they would buy our house if we didn’t sell it within a certain amount of time.  Those were the days!  In those days, too, new recruits were moved across country lock, stock and barrel and no one had a thing to worry about.  The process was easy and we had very little contact with our realtor because we had moved on.  I have to say though with each sale we always listed the house for more than the suggested sale price.  I never took it for granted that the realtor knew best.  They just don’t.  We know our neighborhoods better than anyone and we also know what our house is worth and how it compared with those comparables.

The advice we receive is to interview at least three realtors.  Everyone has advice to give.  Much like when you are having a baby or how to lose weight!  Well, we didn’t follow that advice and we suffered because of it.  Yes, a mistake and I consider us to be somewhat sophisticated and worldly…..I guess not.

We hired a realtor who snowed us during the initial interview process.  She was charming and outgoing.  Beware!  She suggested a selling price which, after the signing with her to be our selling realtor, was not spoken of again.  In fact, the selling price should be $30,000 less than what we talked about.  Wait a minute……let’s get this straight.  We hired her with dollar signs dancing in our heads but THEN were told the selling price should be $30,000 less?  REALLY???  I didn’t buy it and I had learned from previous experience to look at the comps and come to our own price based on our neighborhood.  The realtor reluctantly put the price we decided on (not her) the listing agreement.  Ho hum….’if it’s not sold in two weeks’ she said, ‘we will have to lower the price’  Two weeks?  You must be joking.  I don’t think so.

Now, mind you, we had spent months getting this house ready to be put on the market.  It was finished, complete, and ready to go to a very lucky family.  We had hired the realtor’s contractor to do whatever had to be done (big mistake-find your own), and we were ready to sell.  One problem with this picture….as we got closer and closer to actually selling, I was very unhappy!  As I have talked about before, it is a huge transition and this shakes up your security blanket and throws it in the wash only to come out in shreds.  My whole life as I knew it was coming to an end.  I am, perhaps, being overdramatic but that’s me….overdramatic.

What I have learned so far:

Talk to at least three realtors and make sure they know your neighborhood!

Hire your own contractor at reasonable rates.

Look at the comps in your neighborhood and evaluate your house yourself.  Be damned with what just sold and the asking prices of other homes.  No one knows your house better than you.

For petes sake, clean up that garage!

Prepare your house and then do even more.  It will sell more quickly for a higher price.  People like ‘nothing to do’ houses.

Stage that house!  ….  that’s another story.





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