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Here’s what: I’ve learned a few things from buying 2 homes in 2 years
The week before my house went on the market, I experienced a night of sheer panic. Cold sweats and all. The house is fine, even good, but I was overcome by a terrifying thought: What if nobody wants it?
My husband and I had just put in an offer on a house we loved in our dream neighborhood — an offer under the asking price by $10,000 — and with just a little negotiation on the price, we were under contract in roughly 24 hours. Smooth sailing.
What, then, would happen to my house, I wondered, with its total lack of closets, comically small bathroom, and so-loud-this-can’t-be-real neighbors? If that other house — that beautiful house in a desirable area‚ could sit on the market for several weeks with no offers, would my house in a less-great area sit on the market … forever?
My ever-calming realtor, Allison Fegel of Philly Homegirls, told me it probably wouldn’t sit forever. But if it sat for a while, we’d figure it out — reduce the price, consider turning it into a rental, something. We had options. First, though, we had to nail the listing photos; the more people we could get in the door, the better chance we’d have of getting an offer.
I’ll tell ya, it was a royal pain to “declutter” my home for those photos and then get my entire family out of the house for the photographer, but they ended up gorgeous. And guess what — we got four offers in the first three days, all over the asking price and even one all-cash.
The experience taught me two things.
1. Listing photos matter
I don’t have scientific proof of this, of course, but I am convinced my listing photos sold my house (or were at least a large part of it). They were bright and beautifully composed, highlighting the good and minimizing the less desirable (like the boarded-up house three doors down). Within a day of hitting Redfin, our house was a “hot home.”
Our new house, on the other hand, had atrocious listing photos. I’m talking mirror selfies in the bathroom and grainy, lopsided shots of the kitchen. Again, no scientific proof, but I think the poor photos probably kept potential buyers from paying a visit and making an offer (my realtor agreed). I would have scrolled right past the listing if my realtor hadn’t sent me the link and said she’d spotted some nice details, like shiny hardwood floors and original railings.
Which brings me to lesson No. 2.
2. Hire people who get you
When we were buying our first house, my husband and I talked to a few realtors before meeting Allison. When we did, we knew she was the right person for us. She understood what we were looking for, and we never felt judged for our tastes or budget limitations. While we ended up selling our first home, it had nothing to do with our experience with Allison; in fact, we worked with her again on our second home from her. She’d helped us get an incredible deal on our first house and provided a steady hand through a complicated buying process.
Ditto our mortgage broker — we worked with her on both of our homes because a) she’s unbelievably fast and responsive, and b) she knew when to push and when to pull back. She even locked in my mortgage rate for me right before the Fed raised rates in March. That’s what I call service.
— Stephanie Hallett, senior editor of Personal Finance Insider
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