I’ve been waiting to write this blog until everything was final, and yesterday I signed on the dotted line and took a hefty check to the bank. So now it’s time to share the story of how my house sold for far and above market value, and how market value is actually a relative concept.
Because my old house is located smack in the middle of an Orthodox neighborhood, its value exceeds the typical worth of a house in Southfield, Michigan – a suburb that has been on the decline for the past 20 years.
In fact, there are pockets of Southfield that are charming and priced well, but not where I used to live. There, the property values have been sinking steadily since the 2007-2008 recession and I’m not sure they’ll ever empirically “come back.”
Which is why we didn’t move two years ago. We looked – we didn’t find a house we loved, the right house for us – and, we feared we would have to bring money to the table if we sold.
So we stayed, thinking we were there for years, even though it wasn’t a neighborhood that fit us like it did when I moved in a lifetime ago.
This time around, we fell in love with our new house and were thrust into the realm of selling. I mentioned casually to my next-door neighbor that we were going to move and all of a sudden, the phone started ringing, emails poured in. Can I look at your house? Don’t show it to anyone until you show it to me. I want to live there. I want to buy your house.
So I opened the door to welcome in four families before I had even listed the place. Each of them professed to want the house, but no offers came in on paper. One Saturday night, an earnest young family man came to the door at 11 o’clock with a written offer that was dependent on appraisal and government funding.
Frustrated by all the promises and no action, I called my friend and client, Ron Jasgur, an entrepreneur and savvy Realtor who is about to launch a new kind of real estate brokerage. I told him to list it. (Check out Ron’s website here. And his new company here.)
The way Ron is selling houses now with his business partner Rod Carey is different than any other approach. The proprietary technologies they use require all offers to come in online, so no one misses information, and everyone is on the same page.
Perhaps the most brilliant thing they do, though, is to hold an open marketing period, 10 days to show my house and accept offers, before we would give anyone a response. Brilliant. Because that upped the ante, increased the anticipation, and the anxiety, and drove many more people and offers to my door.
I lost count of how many showings there were. I think we fielded 10 offers for the home – all higher in number than the four people who first came through before the sign showed up in the yard. Ten offers in a depressed market. And the amounts were over and above what we figured market value to be.
So the first offer was certainly NOT the best offer.
Patience and endurance showed us a different story. And it was worth the wait.
We accepted the second highest offer because it was not dependent on an appraisal. Since it’s part of the public record, I’ll tell you that we sold the house for $240,000. Cash. All because Orthodox families need to live walking distance from their synagogue and there are only so many houses available that are big enough for a growing family.
Ron’s approach to selling real estate works like magic. Create the excitement and see what happens. He doesn’t believe the first offer is the best one – and he’s right. He believes in letting the market show the worth of the property by staying in the game long enough to see true offers, from serious buyers.
My first offer was for $225K. But it never came on paper, so I can’t really count it. The one on paper late that Saturday night was $202K, dependent on an FHA loan, which means if the house appraised for less, I’d be out of luck.
And the house appraised for far, far less. Nearly $100K less than what the buyer paid.
Look what demand, and anticipation, can do for selling a house.
I am so grateful for Ron’s approach to real estate. I am also grateful that my old house is located where it was. When people want something so bad they can taste it, reason flies out the window.
That’s the way any home buyer is – they must have the house, they have to live there, they will pay whatever it takes to make sure it becomes theirs. Orthodox or not, when you fall in love with a particular place, you do what it takes to have it.
Over the past month, so many people have asked me, Dan and Ron whether the house was still available and what its value was. Even after we accepted the offer and started the paperwork, more offers came in. Weekend afternoons, people knocked at my door to inquire if the house were still available and when they heard it wasn’t, they asked what it went for. We all said we couldn’t talk about it until everything was final.
Now, it’s final. We don’t live there anymore. It’s a fresh start for a new family, and I hope they will be as happy inside those walls as we were. They are inheriting lovely neighbors, and a yard that is perfect for kids to play in.
And besides, the value is all in the eye of the beholder.
When I went back yesterday to say my final goodbyes, it no longer felt like mine. The house felt smaller, unfamiliar. The rooms empty, I realized I had already left.
Standing outside, I stared up at the bricks, at the roof we put on last summer, at the stone facade that I first fell in love with, at the windows that used to peer onto my lovely sleeping children, and a slight tear came to my eye. Thank you, I whispered to the winter air. You’ve been a good home for us.
And then it was time to leave.