How much work is it for the owner to *sell* a property in a hot market?
May 11, 2021 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about selling my small condo in Seattle (Cherry Hill/Seattle U/Cap HIll), and fully realize that the market is insane right now - good for me! The problem is that I am inCREDibly lazy, and never having sold a property before I have no idea how much work it will be for ME. I know the what the realtor does, generally, but don't know how much work the actual seller takes on....

Can I just, like, hire a realtor and tell her to call me when I need to sign some papers? Or do I have to do a bunch of work *also* while they set up the sale??

Assume I will not be staging it, and it will be occupied by a renter before and up to the sale. Thanks for any hints!
posted by tristeza to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have sold several houses and the only work I can remember doing was some minor repairs and clean up/staging. After the inspection, the buyer may ask you to make some repairs or adjustments or changes, but that is usually minor and someone can be hired to do that. (I was asked to remove a working hot tub. Gave me a good opportunity to get busy with my newly purchased Sawzall!)

Otherwise, hiring the lawyer was the only other thing. You may need to gather some documents depending on your specific situation such as a CO or HOA docs. Lazy people sell houses all the time. Don't let that be a roadblock to profiting and selling.

Also, tell the agent you hire that all you want is for them to sell the place for you at an agreed upon price or better and you do not want to be bothered by things like reports on what people said about the unit when looking at it. Most of the "work" is interacting with the agent.
posted by AugustWest at 12:21 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you want to do it for the least work possible, ask Redfin or Zillow to make you a cash offer. This will be less than you would get on the open market. How much I don't know. It will also be much less work. They'll handle all the paperwork. AFAIK you don't need any help (e.g. an agent or lawyer). You just sign things they send you, and then you get a check. It's like the equivalent of taking your car to carmax and accepting their offer vs. selling it on craigslist.
posted by caek at 12:23 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

The renter is a nontrivial factor here. You are still the landlord till it's sold, and even if you do nothing, you still have those obligations, which do not always sit nicely with a selling process. I was a renter while my then-landlord arranged a sale and I had to threaten legal action to get them to take the terms of the lease (and the law) seriously because the realtor kept showing up with people on little to no notice, while I was working or in the shower.

Assuming the process goes smoothly, yes, the realtor will be able to handle most of it up until the actual sale, but managing *your* tenant will add complexity that you can't ignore. There will be people coming through; there will be inspection. Coordinating this with the renter may be annoying but if you don't do it, you have a good chance of ending up in violation of the lease because the realtor is incentivized to make a sale, not to manage your legal obligations.

(Also, it's important to be aware that unless Washington's laws work very differently than the states I'm familiar with, there will be a tenant even after the sale. Typically the lease can be broken before it's time if the new owner wants to move in themselves, but this still requires substantial notice.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:23 PM on May 11, 2021 [19 favorites]

We recently sold. I was not very much work, but the house was unoccupied and we had a truly fabulous agent. Our agent did take care of a bunch of nitty gritty details that many other agents might not. If you want low-effort, it is probably worth shopping around a bit for an agent who is willing to insulate you from some of the nuisances.
posted by primethyme at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

I do want to say that I bought a house that had tenants. As part of the contract the owner was supposed to give the tenants 90 days notice, so that they would be out when our lease ran out on our apartment so we could move in.

We showed up, keys in hand, and the tenants were like "who the fuck are you?". One of them got mad and punched out an expensive historic window. The owner had never breathed a word about moving out and had just literally moved to the Caribbean and never answered a phone call or email from us or them again. We ended up paying them each a couple of hundred dollars (and of course free rent) to be out in a month. It happened to work but we could have been stuck going through legalities.

Please do right by your tenants in this situation.
posted by stormygrey at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: NB I love my tenant and will 100% treat her with absolute fairness! She is awesome! (I am ALSO a renter, so really don't want to screw anyone in my own situation)
posted by tristeza at 12:36 PM on May 11, 2021 [4 favorites]

As a former renter whose apartment was sold while she occupied it - make sure the agent treats your tenant well. We were treated to viewings with no notice, and that's not right as it was our home.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:39 PM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

The city of Seattle has a more restrictive eviction moratorium for COVID than the state of Washington has - in particular, it is not possible to evict a tenant due to selling a property. As a result, many buyers are hesitant to buy any property that is occupied by the tenant. Regardless of whether the tenant is on a long-term lease or a month-to-month lease, it is essentially impossible in Seattle to evict a tenant at the moment. Currently, the only allowable reason to evict a tenant in Seattle is due to a tenant threatening the health of you, your family, or the tenant's neighbors. Buyers are generally unwilling to pick up a tenant they have no way to get rid of.

The current moratorium is set to expire on 30 June 2021. It may be extended that that point. You may find that your property will become significantly easier to sell on 30 June 2021 if the moratorium is not extended or if the moratorium is modified to allow for evictions due to property sale.

Alternatively, if you are able to get the tenant to voluntarily leave the property (for instance, by paying them to leave), you may significantly improve the value and salability of your property.
posted by saeculorum at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2021 [9 favorites]

There are also people snapping up investment properties who won't consider an existing tenant to be a bad thing.

If you think your current tenant has the means to buy, you might also give them first shot at it, particularly if you can do it without real estate agents (which will save a significant amount of money).
posted by Candleman at 1:49 PM on May 11, 2021 [7 favorites]

As someone who just sold our 1-bed condo in a major US city I can attest that the market is only hot for properties with ample outdoor space and/or room to telework. We paid a small fortune to secure our current place, and made major pricing concessions to move our old one.

Were it not for COVID we could have comfortably expected a 20-30% higher profit on that unit.
posted by lecorbeau at 11:11 AM on May 12, 2021

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