After nearly two years on the market, we had to face the truth — this house isn’t going to sell, at least not right now.
A week ago we made a difficult decision and took our property off the market. Disappointment is an understatement. This was our starter home, and after seven years we’re bursting at the seams and desperately need additional space. However, local home values continue to decline each year, and since we purchased when home prices had skyrocketed to unbelievable highs, we had to sell at a price higher than the competition.
This has been a stressful, disappointing and frustrating experience. But as I remove the “for sale sign” from the yard and make myself fall in love with this house again, there are two things that I’ve learned from this experience.
1. Comparable Sales Can Trump Home Upgrades
Despite the fact that we had to price our home higher than similar homes, I honestly thought that we would find a buyer. I knew it would take time, and I was prepared for the house to sit for six months to one year. But in my heart I knew that the right buyer would come along and eagerly pay an extra $10,000, especially since we had completed several upgrades to the property.
Our realtor was also optimistic, and after viewing pictures of comparable condos and townhouses in the area, it was in the bag — or so I thought. We had gutted and updated each bathroom; our kitchen was newer and in better condition than most of the properties for sale; and we completed other upgrades, such as new tile floors, windows, doors and a fence.
The thing I learned from this experience — although a house might look prettier or newer than similar properties, some buyers (especially first-time buyers) are only concerned with price. And while an appraisal can assess how much your home’s worth, comparable sales ultimately determine what you’re going to get for the house. And in our case, no amount of upgrades or improvements could compete with the number of short sales and foreclosures driving down our property value.
2. Pay More Toward Your Principal
We realized the importance of extra principal payments about two years after purchasing the home. It was around this time that home prices started to level off, and we decided to make an extra principal payment once or twice a year. Well, this was a good idea in theory, but we never followed through with the plan.
We kept putting this off until the next year, and seven years later, we’ve yet to make an extra principal payment – but that’s going to change this year. If we had stuck with our plan, we might had avoided this entire situation.
Our plan is to revisit the idea of selling in two or three years, at which time we would had lived in this house for ten years. Hopefully home values will start to increase, and hopefully we’re able to knock down our principal. If not, I might consider finding a renter — even though I hate the idea of becoming a landlord.
Have a similar story of a house that will not sell?
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