Help me sell my house
October 1, 2009 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Help me sell my house!

So I'm having trouble selling my house. I have had the house listed for about 2-3 months with little success (one decent written offer but they walked, not sure how real they were).

The potential problems:

1. We are showing the house empty right now (no furniture, moved out, long story). This is probably not ideal.

2. Winter is coming and, where I am, buying activity drops way down during winter.

3. We are not getting huge amounts of interest. About 3 showings last weekend, for example.

One thing I am thinking about is taking it off the market until spring, which will involve eating something like $15k in costs (interest, insurance, taxes). I could also maybe have it "staged" in the spring with rental furniture, for an additional cost. If I wanted to really go whole hog, I could try to paint and fix it up in the spring, for yet more cost. Eventually I will spend more then I will recover, I'm sure.

I do have a few potential strengths/options that might help:

1. I could swing some seller financing, but I'm reluctant to "advertise" this for fear of seeming desperate.

2. I could try to auction the sucker. (Anyone ever done this?)

3. I could try to rent the house for a year or so. Downside here is that the place is not in the best repair and I am concerned about maintenance hassles/costs and about not being able to show the place for sale while it is rented (because it might look like a sty). I don't really want to play landlord for a year.

I'm in a big city and the house should sell somewhere between $475 to $550k, worst case to best case, depending on how lucky or desperate I get. I'm not going to go broke tomorrow, but this isn't a lot of fun either and I don't want to throw good money after bad.

Anyway, I'm in a pickle and am just looking for good thoughts, ideas, and experiences that might help. I'm especially interested in any non-traditional ways to sell, like auctions or contacting developers who might want to rehab or knock down. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Look for a property manager who will rent the house and maintain it and do the landlord thing for you. This worked for me (until said property manager went out of business) for a house I own 1000 miles away.
posted by getawaysticks at 9:16 AM on October 1, 2009

The best way to get interest in your house is to drop the price. If it's not in good enough repair to even rent, I'm wondering how it could be priced in that range. Not being in good repair and being overpriced could be why it's not moving. Plus depending upon the area of the country, some real estate markets aren't doing well right now. Another reason many sellers are counseled to drop their price. If I were you, I'd get the repairs done, make the house look as presentable as possible, lower the price, and have your real estate agent hold a few open houses. I'd check comparable houses in the area that have recently sold and see what they got for their house to give you an idea of what you will likely get for yours and price it there.
posted by VC Drake at 9:21 AM on October 1, 2009

There is also option 4. Lower the asking price to what the market will bear for the house now, in the condition it is in.
Or, take the $15,000 you are going to spend keeping the house until Spring, plus whatever you will spend on paint and repairs, plus the cost to stage it, plus the value of not being stressed and lower the asking price by that much.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

My partner and I just went through this. In hindsight, we should have just done what we did in the end: lower the price. Seriously: if you're willing to throw away $15K or more waiting until spring, why not just knock $15K off the price right now? Trust me, once you've been sitting on a house for ten months, you will be enormously grateful for the first serious offer that walks in the door, and even that's probably going to be less than what you expect. So just take the hit to your expectations now and get out from under your mortgage as quickly as possible.
posted by alopez at 9:31 AM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

Are you sure it's priced right? (If redfin exists in your city, you can get some good pricing data by running searches on redfin. Lots to play with.)

Having recently bought a house, I don't think furniture was ever a plus. I prefered the blank canvas. So I wouldn't invest in staging. (I suppose professionals disaree here.)

Lots of open houses?
posted by n'muakolo at 9:38 AM on October 1, 2009

Lower the price, lower the price, lower the price. The market is glutted right now with foreclosures and short sales, and with the current decline in prices, you have to face reality and drop the price. Unless you live in Manhattan or San Francisco.
posted by Oktober at 9:48 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could find loads of cheap pictures - or your own pictures - and put them up on the walls. Give it a "gallery" vibe, with a theme for each room, possibly complemented by a well chosen lick of paint here and there.

It would give prospective buyers both something to do in the rooms instead of just walking in and walking out, and give a something to the sales pitch - "the owner is using it as a personal art project at the moment" so that potential buyers can talk about it and get into the process of where their furniture might go.

Just an idea. I've never tried it, or seen it tried.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:51 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had no bites after 3 months, lowered the price 15k and the house was sold 17 days later. You should really lower the price. FYI, this was on a house in the 250k range, if it matters.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, I had over 40 showings before I got an offer, not sure how many you've had yet... sometimes it just is a matter of the sheer number of showings you go through.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:28 AM on October 1, 2009

Lower the price. Seriously.

Either that or take it off the market till spring. And even then?

Lower the price.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

My house was on the market for 6 months. I spent $3k to put in new carpet and dropped the price by $15k. It sold almost immediately. I so should have done that sooner.
posted by tybstar at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding what alopez said. Our house was on the market for 9 months last year and we were about to face some brutal winterizing costs. When some buyers came along (who were also under considerable pressure themselves having been kicked out of a rental) with an offer that was much much lower than our asking price, we took it.

It isn't just the 15K, it is also the significant emotional cost of having the house sit there dragging you down. Even though the house we sold went for even less than the appraisal, every time I look back I breathe huge sigh of relief that it is done and done.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:30 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out the competition in your area. Make sure you price your house lower than houses that aren't in need of repair. Since you'll be on the market in the cooler months, try to make the home seem as cozy as possible (for example, if you have a fireplace, try to emphasize it).
posted by parakeetdog at 1:41 PM on October 1, 2009

Are you superstitious at all? Bury St. Joseph in the yard.
posted by CathyG at 2:50 PM on October 1, 2009

I sold my house a year ago. Freshly sanded hardwood floors, fresh paint, etc. What worked? Dropping the price by 10%.
posted by theora55 at 4:28 PM on October 1, 2009

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