By: Revanche

Selling our home in California: Part 2

September 11, 2017

Preparing the place

It takes me an hour, after several weeks of packing and shoving things into temporary storage, to hide away all proof we actually live here.

I could maintain a show ready house at all times if I got rid of a full storage unit of furniture, books, toys, comic books, records and junk, and I spent 2 hours tidying and cleaning every day.

No, thank you.

I fully intend to get rid of a good portion of that stuff once we’re moved. But as much as it’s nice that the floors are gleaming and all surfaces are clear, the result doesn’t bring me nearly as much joy as spending the time on something else instead. Like cooking for my family!

I managed to do take out on paper plates (the imagined “easy” way to do it) exactly once during the show season. The very next day I couldn’t bear it and whipped up a nutritionally balanced and even good-lookin meal. That’s where the satisfaction’s at!

Decisions with the California timeline

Our market in the Bay Area has cooled from a white hot frenzy to just a frenzy. The spring and summer were literally unbelievable. Homes were selling a couple days after being listed, even before the scheduled open houses!

Our sale period going into the fall, delayed from the original plan to list in the summer because there was a good solid chance I’d be checking myself into an institution otherwise, meant that we expected a slightly more sedate pace.

Even the slightly more sedate pace meant a great deal of planning for a ton of activity in a short ten day window, though.

First, identify all repairs needed. You wouldn’t think it was necessary given how much some of the literal teardowns were going for but again, we missed that period.

Second, gather all ye olde paperwork. We had seller disclosures to fill out, HOA documentation to hunt down, and a stack of papers to sign.

Third, this is where the timing gets tense – in the same week, and in this order: get the repairs done, the photographer in to take photos for the listing, decide on a listing price and dates and times of your open houses, write the MLS listing and post it, get the inspection done (why? See here), have the place deep cleaned and from there on keep your home spic and span because interested buyers may schedule a visit any time after you’ve listed.

*deep breath*

We listed on Monday, had a broker tour and inspection on Tuesday, and open house on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Offers were due by Wednesday, 9 calendar days after listing.

You wouldn’t think that we would have time to take a breath, much less be worried, with such a compressed timeline. But I’m a pro at multi-tasking so not only was I keeping our home show-ready, my family fed, my work done, I was also being a Nervous Nelly and officially a wreck by Wednesday morning. I was convinced that my timing, and the horrible political situation, combined to mean that we didn’t have any motivated buyers and our pricing strategy was going to come back and bite us.

Thank everything (and everyone rooting for us) that I was wrong on that score.

The negotiation

We had some very solid offers. In keeping with the cooler market, though, no all cash offers for us.

We had a handful of offers, two stood out as good offers. They were good for different reasons and also not good for different reasons. Our strategy, after discussing all factors: price, contingencies, strength of the likely loan applicant, the lender’s experience with this area (because we’ve had some regional difficulties that have tanked loans in the past), was to ask the second highest offer (B) to beat the highest priced (A) offer.

I know that seems counter-intuitive but this is why it made sense: A’s lending situation seemed iffy. Asking someone to adjust their lending situation isn’t an easy ask, though, and the agent was also insisting that we do some unnecessary work, citing (wrongly) mandatory regulations which we already met. B’s offer was weaker because it had more contingencies and a lower price, but those are things the buyer can personally  choose to change if they really wanted to. Offer B also wasn’t wrongly insisting that we fix things that aren’t actually problematic, and their preapproval was with a reliable lender we’ve already worked with in the past.

Our other approach was to have our agent initiate a conversation instead of just writing a counter and sending it without comment. This allowed us to informally negotiate and come to an amicable agreement quickly and easily.

B’s agent and our agent hashed out the details and our agent came back to us with a much cleaner proposal. The follow-up matched the money A was offering, didn’t come with extra work, and conceded the appraisal contingencies. Given the pre-approval with a reliable lender, keeping only the loan contingency worked for us so we wrote up the official counteroffer and by the next morning, we had a ratified contract.

You wouldn’t think a “small” thing like asking for one repair would be a dealbreaker but in this market, it can be. With all the plates that we’re spinning, I don’t want to take on even half another thing to worry about, and their request wasn’t a small thing.

Now, what’s next? 30 days until closing.

We have to be appraised, their loan has to be approved, we have to finish work on our new place, and we have to move by the date that we close escrow.

There’s going to be a lot of breath-holding while all this is happening, you already know that. Even though this seems like a good buyer and loan situation, anything can happen and that little catastrophizing prepper voice of mine won’t stop reminding me of that until the money is in our hands. Thankfully it’ll be evened out with keeping busy and reminding myself that it’s just a tense time but worrying over it won’t help anything.

I haven’t even touched on how much I hate change, so this entire process has had all my switches flipped to “NOOOO” for weeks. That’s probably why the catastrophizing voice gets so loud these days.

Read Part 1 and Part 3!

:: Have you ever had to sell a home before? What’s your least favorite thing about moving? Most  favorite?

13 Responses to “Selling our home in California: Part 2”

  1. Wow, good luck!
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted…Cranking through cookbooks againMy Profile

  2. SP says:

    Yaaaay! Good luck getting through the last few steps!

    My least favorite thing about moving is when pieces of furniture just don’t fit the new space. OK, and all of the packing and disarray and stress!

    The best part is how fresh and exciting the new place feels – it must be so exciting to move into your new space!
    SP recently posted…August updateMy Profile

  3. Our house was a short sale. We offered asking price, and after much discussion between our agents and the lender’s agent and a “short sale consultant” our agents spoke with, we actually LOWERED our offer. I still don’t know why. But it did work.

  4. Cindy in the South says:


  5. Linda says:

    I’ve sold two homes, both in Chicago where the market was different than the Bay Area. The last sale of the house I had lived in for 13 years was both easy and hard. The easy part was the selling process. I had taken very good care of the house and it didn’t need more than a few minor repairs. I had three offers in one week and sold it to the family that offered me asking price and with no inspection contingency. (In that market it was not common for the seller to get the inspection; I find it a weird quirk that in your part of the Bay Area it is considered common since it wasn’t so up here.)

    The hard part of the sale was the emotional one. I had put a lot of work into making that house a home for me.

    I think packing is my least favorite part of moving. JP does have a point, though, that it really sucks when you find that your furniture doesn’t fit.
    Linda recently posted…Dreams of my youthMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      The seller doing the inspection is a very weird quirk, I agree! But I like that it removes one of the three contingencies. I’m working on not feeling like I’m losing one home so much as gaining another here, too.

  6. Congratulations and good luck with the move!
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted…Scaling Lifestyle Inflation With IncomeMy Profile

  7. Congratulations! You’ve sold your house! That certainly puts the pressure on insofar as making the new place ready goes, but you’re less and less in limbo – moving into certainty. This is a significant milestone!
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Frugal Move: No More Gym MembershipMy Profile

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