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Moving is Difficult All Around. Any stories?
Old 06-29-2014, 05:53 AM   #1
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Moving is Difficult All Around. Any stories?

I'm moving houses for the 4th time in my life. I am amazed at how difficult and expensive it all is, from the realtor's fees and anticipated costs in the new home, to keeping the place clean for showings, to the worry about finding a new place I like. Lots of sleepless nights lately.

I'm actually moving 'up' expense wise as I am moving from a condo back to a single family home. My mortgage is paid off but I anticipate I will take a small mortgage on the new place, perhaps $30-50,000. Hopefully not. I don't like the fact that this will set me back financially somewhat, but I keep telling myself I need to take the long view here. I'm really looking for my "forever" home at this point.

I'm selling first because of the peace of mind it gives me to have cash in hand. I'm moving to the same area--less than 1-3 miles from where I am and hopefully within walking distance of work. But the worry in this seller's market is that once I have an offer in hand for my condo, no house will attract me. Then I'll have to rent for awhile and move twice. I have pets, so this makes it even more difficult.

No takers yet after a week on the market; five showings. Open House today. The showings and Open Houses make me feel 'violated' in my own home--not an unusual feeling I suppose when you are cleaning desperately for perfect strangers who give your place a rating.

All in all, it stinks. Any stories (especially successful ones) or words of advice welcome.

P.S. I gave condo living the old college try and hate it. Can't wait to get back to the independence of a single family home. Live and learn.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:42 AM   #2
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We have owned and sold 2 houses and a town house. The longest it took to sell a house was one month. We sold at the bottom of the housing market crash due to high interest rates in the early 80's (we were one of 14 homes that sold in our county.) The other 2 places sold within 4 days each. The "trick" we discovered was to give prospective buyers very few excuses not to buy our place. All were "move-in-ready." All were priced right at the market value (or less). All were vacated but staged.

Our toughest move was the last one. Rather than move to a rental, we bought a new place before we sold the old place. Getting a mortgage turned out to be harder than we thought due to the new stringent mortgage rules ca. 2009/10. Our assets were good and our credit score was well above 800. Still, it was a real hassle because we were retired and had relatively low income (by their definitions.)

Hope this helps, but remember, YMMV.
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Old 06-29-2014, 07:00 AM   #3
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You may want to have an apartment picked out. With the vacancy rates extremely low, it is increasing harder to move into one.

There has never been a problem selling houses, the problem is pricing them correctly.
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:10 AM   #4
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I'm moving houses for the 4th time in my life. I am amazed at how difficult and expensive it all is, from the realtor's fees and anticipated costs in the new home, to keeping the place clean for showings, to the worry about finding a new place I like. Lots of sleepless nights lately.

No takers yet after a week on the market; five showings. Open House today. The showings and Open Houses make me feel 'violated' in my own home--not an unusual feeling I suppose when you are cleaning desperately for perfect strangers who give your place a rating.

We recently went through this process. I never thought I'd go through an Open House for the very reasons you mentioned; however, once we decided we really wanted to move and had already found our new house, we made it a challenge to make our former little house as appealing as possible for the Open House and later showings.

We just had to distance ourselves from the former house being "our" house -- not easy after 31 years -- and turn to seeing it as a contender in an exciting real estate market. That helped, to look at the competition and see how we could make our house stand out. I got a little bit competitive about the whole thing.

In fact, I still keep an eye on the old neighborhood to make sure we are still the winners at price per SF.
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:21 AM   #5
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I'm sorry you are having trouble sleeping, but it appears you have set the conditions to be stressful. I thought you had talked about getting a home equity loan so you could proceed with the house purchase first.

Apartments rentals in the MSP area are scare and pretty expensive. Not to mention if you don't like condos, you will like an apartment building even less. Are you willing to sign a one year lease? You might have to sell your condo for less then you expected and end up paying somewhat of a premium for your house because you feel like you don't have any other options.

With 5 showings in a week, no offers at all might mean you are coming in a little high. My DD lives in a popular close in MSP suburb that's popular with young working families. The house next door sold in 26 days, one of the first lookers wanted the place, thought it was priced a little high waited 3 weeks and then came in with a slightly reduced offer price, since the 30 day mark is often when the first reduction is made.

It doesn't seem as if selling your condo first has really given you much peace of mind. If you are using the same person to buy and sell both places maybe you can rethink you decision.
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:50 AM   #6
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<SNIP>

There has never been a problem selling houses, the problem is pricing them correctly.
I agree. Our last sale (one of the 4-days-to-sell) was originally priced about 2% above market (ya gotta let them "make" you come down.) Our final sale price turned out to be less than 0.5% above the lender's estimate of its value. We figured we priced it pretty well, based on that. Full disclosure, we lived in a town house community, large enough that there were several recent sales of fairly similar units. YMMV
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:01 AM   #7
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With 5 showings in a week, no offers at all might mean you are coming in a little high. My DD lives in a popular close in MSP suburb that's popular with young working families. The house next door sold in 26 days, one of the first lookers wanted the place, thought it was priced a little high waited 3 weeks and then came in with a slightly reduced offer price, since the 30 day mark is often when the first reduction is made.
I suppose these metrics might vary depending on your local market, but our realtor told us last summer, that after 10-12 showings and no offers it would be time for a price adjustment. We were lucky however and sold in 2 days at our asking price. Our house was definitely in move in ready condition, but to be sure, we attended some other competing open houses in the area that had some very nice looking on-line pictures, but when we saw those places in person we knew we had nothing to worry about.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:47 AM   #8
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P.S. I gave condo living the old college try and hate it.
Presume you mean condo apartments? We have a condo townhouse which suits us.....since all the exterior work, gardening, etc, is taken care of..(for a fee of course).
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:18 AM   #9
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It can be very hard to distance oneself from the negative feedback, especially when it's something you cannot fix, like "the closets are too small" or "the back yard faces on a public road."

Bear in mind, showing agents often feel they must leave some reason why the people didn't want the house, even if it's a nutty reason. Example: about our recently sold (spotless, just painted, all flooring replaced) townhouse, one agent left feedback that "the buyer thinks the first floor smells like a cat, and his wife is allergic to cats."

All that matters is whether offers are coming in, and that is, I believe, entirely a function of price. We asked our agent to price the house so it would move. We got our asking price. We might have gotten more by waiting, but who wants to take the chance?

Good luck - I agree about the horrors of moving. About all I can recommend is to be obsessively organized.

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Old 06-29-2014, 10:53 AM   #10
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Yes moving is stressful. We would like to move again, just don't know where.

A positive story. Our last home was unique, I feared it would never sell. Almost 30 year old a-frame in a very rural area. Gravel roads, new minimum security detention center 1 mile away. The basement walls had started caving in, we had them fixed per a structural engineers spec, but it looked bad with 4" I beams to brace walls. The finished downstairs informal living area had ceilings that were barely 6' 6" (after fixing structural issues). I just knew it would never sell for what we needed. Low and behold, house was not even listed as we were selling stuff off preparing to move. A couple came out to look at some stuff, we mentioned moving. Two days later we had a full price non - contingent offer.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:11 AM   #11
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We've sold and bought several times. The last time was terribly stressful. We always put a lot of effort into getting our houses ready to sell. The last few houses we've painted them before selling, replaced carpet, decluttered, removed personal items etc.

The last 3 houses we sold:

1. House 1 we put on the market and house didn't move -- Market was bad at the time (this was in the late 90s) and the house had been customized for us and had colors of carpet/paint people didn't like (wasn't neutral). Took it off market, waiting a couple of years. Then recarpeted and painted in neutral colors. Decluttered and depersonalized. Sold it to the 2nd person to look at it, on the morning it went on the market. Never even had a sign in the yard. We sold House 1 on one day and closed to buy House 2 on the next day.

2. House 2 - This was around 2006. Did not live in a really hot market, but market was pretty good. We repainted and recarpeted and did some decluttering and depersonalizing. House had steady showings, but had some negative features (no open concept kitchen). We sold it within a couple of months which was good in that market. At the time, we thought we were going to build, so we went into a rental house which having plans drawn. Several months later, I found what I thought was the perfect house and we bought it.

3. House 3 - We put it on the market in 2010. (It was a beautiful but huge house but by then we had fewer people living in the house and wanted a smaller house that would be easier to maintain once all the kids were gone). The market was not very good at the time. We went all out to sell it. We repainted, recarpeted, had it professionally staged and did a lot of stuff to get it ready. We put a lot of our stuff in storage.

Not wanting to remember the whole painful saga, I will simply say this: We told our agent we wanted to sell quickly and wanted to price it right and didn't want to try to maximize price. We wanted a reasonable price on it. Comps were difficult to analyze (this was in an acreage community). We had a ton of showings the first month or two and had lots of interest. No offers. We insisted on reducing the price after a couple of months. Nothing. This went on for 6 months. After our listing expired in 6 months, we removed it from the market for about 3 months. Relisted at a lower price (we talked to a couple of new agents who felt our last price we had it listed at was reasonable. I asked them what they would say to list it at to get it sold within 30 days. Both gave us the same number so that was the one we relisted at). It sold within 3 days of the relisting.

We moved into a rental for a year (that is another long story which I will skip) and then bought our current house.

Living in the rental was fine. We put a lot of our furniture into storage for the duration.
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Old 06-29-2014, 03:39 PM   #12
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We are in one of those communities, and expect similar difficulties when we go to sell. Everything is always tough when your tastes are not the crowd's. The trouble is, it can take a long, long while to find someone who both wants and can afford such a place. Better-off people often want something new, and others who are attracted to the acreage get spooked when they think about upkeep. Picking an agent who knows that particular niche market is critical.

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Comps were difficult to analyze (this was in an acreage community). .
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:01 PM   #13
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ivansfan, I may have set myself up for stress, but honestly I thought about the situation every which way and still found stress! I have worked with a bank to do all the advance work for a HELOC and am ready to pull the trigger immediately. The problem is that I have yet to find the right house. Meanwhile, I also decided to put my condo on the market. It would be wonderful if I could find the new house just when I've accepted an offer on the old, right? But until I find the right house I am actually in no rush to sell--except for the agony of Open Houses and showings!

I am also checking out rentals with the plan to spring if needed. A friend's sister owns a very nice rental that rents by the month right down the street from me--ideal. Of course the rub would be whether there would be availability when I need it. Other possibilities are to ask for a longer closing time and/or the ability to rent back from the new owners for a time once I sell. So lots of unknowns.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:00 PM   #14
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The only thing worse than showings, is not getting any showings.

As for open houses - why do you have to have them? Every real estate agent I've ever spoken to, says open houses do little to sell the hosting house, and are really for the agent who's in the home to make more contacts (after all, your neighbors are usually traipsing through). Open houses are also a great way to have stuff stolen from your home, because the agent isn't accompanying the lookers, the way they usually do with a showing. No, that agent stays in the kitchen or living room, to welcome more lookers through the door! We've been at open houses - very fine homes - where the parents went in one direction and the kids went everywhere else, and nobody was keeping track of the kids.

When we go to sell, we will not permit open houses unless the agent makes a really good case for them as proven sales tools in our area.

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iexcept for the agony of Open Houses and showings!

.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:31 PM   #15
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Yes, selling a house while still living in it is hell.

If I ever want to sell my main home, I will move out, and sell it empty or staged to make it look attractive.

My 2nd home is so nice, clean, and uncluttered that it would take me but a couple of hours to clean up for showing. Of course, you can tell that we are not there as often as our main home.
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Old 06-30-2014, 05:05 AM   #16
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amethyst, that's a good point about Open Houses. I know that, as a house buyer, I don't attend them--if there's something I really want to see I'll immediately arrange a showing. However, Open Houses appear to be the norm in my area and I haven't questioned (yet) my realtor's holding them. Yesterday in a two hour span my house got 18 people, 5 of whom indicated strong interest enough that my realtor will be following up with them. One was a person who had already had a showing earlier this week. I think it is a way to generate interest, even if word of mouth. This is a desirable neighborhood where people actually move laterally--from big to smaller, from rental to condo, etc.

I do hear you about possible theft. I've carefully hidden and/or taken out of the house anything I worry about. The condo being small and only 1 floor eases the situation a bit as the agent can be pretty much everywhere at once.
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Old 06-30-2014, 05:56 AM   #17
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According the National Association of Realtors an open house results in a house sale less than 1% of the time.

I'm a Realtor here in the Twin Cities - my recommendation would be to start looking for where you are going to live now to have some ideas. It's a sellers market and vacancy for rentals is very tight (I own rentals too). Very few buyer's are going to want to do a rent back agreement.

And because it's a sellers market it's pretty easy to know if your price is right. As someone else said, 10-12 showings with no offer or 3-4 weeks with no offer and it means you are too high.

Good luck!
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