As I mentioned earlier, we finally got 2 offers on our house in San Jose. If all goes as planned we should close tomorrow. I am sad because I loved the house but also relieved that it has sold. Due to the changes in the market, I estimate that we got about $40K less than we should have for it but who can tell what or when the market is going to do what it does. I have several lessons-learned from this process:
- Never take the complete word of a friend on a real estate agent…especially when your gut says you can’t trust the guy (the RE, not the friend!). Obviously what worked for the friend, did not work for me! Interview other clients and trust your instincts. Our RE, Howard Bloom, was very professional, ethical and knew the real estate business. However, I would not recommend him to anyone. He did many things well. Planning strategies was not one of them. He’d say we need to come up with a strategy, throw lots of data at us and never come with a recommendation. The recommendations always came from us and then he’d say he supported them but later say that I was too analytical. This happened with staging, pricing and everything in between. He also had a problem listening if the topic was not on his agenda.
- You can sell a house from a remote location but it is going to cost you. Staging the house for 3 months was significant $$. I do believe that given the options again, staging was the right route to go. But the number of sleepless nights contemplating whether one of us should head back to SJ was more troublesome. Whether it was a problem (fountain stopped working) or just concern (Howard can not figure out the sprinkler system) it was keeping us awake. We had daily phone calls with Howard which were painful for all of us!
- Set your asking price as low as you can in a changing or slow market. Howard’s recommendation initially was to price it as close to what you think it will sell for as possible. I analyzed the data and did that. We reduced price by $25K after 1 month and another $25K after another month. I felt like we could chase the market into oblivion. Data was starting show some drops in price but not $50K worth. Strategy – if you need to sell, start low and hopefully creating a bidding war. If you don’t need to sell, you can play different games but recognize you may walk away still owning a house.
- Hire an RE who is very familiar with your specific area. Most of Howard’s market is in Palo Alto and Mountain View but he has sold several homes in San Jose. Not good enough. We could have avoided several issues if we had a person familiar with the Cambrian area.
New topic – Follow up on passions. I was going to try to describe a perfect life for us but we never got that far. Peter wants to photograph the globe but abhors the travel; extended trips minimize those issues. I like to travel and actually tolerate “travel issues” far better than he does. Through my travel, I realize that you don’t know a place until you’ve spent weeks there. So we have agreement that we would like to go on extended trips. But that leads to the area of disagreement. He says that if we travel lots, we can’t have our kitties (we would wait until Widgit and Mooshie leave us and not replace them). Sounds ok but I really can’t imagine life at home without my kittens! I say we find a good house/pet sitter. He says that isn’t fair to them. So there isn’t any resolution on a perfect life -yet.
But I have made some tentative decisions about my next career path. What feeds my soul? Doing lots of different things. Working with people, helping people, design, decorating, creating systems, making the world more beautiful, being environmentally savvy… what can I do where I can incorporate all of these? Real Estate… and it’s a viable job in Maui. Yes, there are many realtors here but they go as fast as they come and many don’t practice. I’ve talked to a few people and am still in investigation stage but it sounds like a pretty good path for me.