Four Things I Learned During The Sale Of My Home


After all the hoopla over flashing, I thought this post might be a little anti-climatic. Still, I wanted to share some of the points I’ve learned from my experience selling my home in Westchester.

Here’s a little background. I was lucky enough to get into the real estate market right before everything skyrocketed out of control. My three-bedroom, two-bathroom cozy little abode was purchased early in 2002. True. Real estate was on the rise, but I did manage to make a profit. I agreed to an asking price of over 1.5 times what I bought it for.

Soon after I knew the real estate market was plummeting, I put my home on the market. I decided to put my faith in Redfin in order to maximize profits. (But we’ll talk more about some actual figures next time). Keep in mind the following list is from the perspective of someone who didn’t have an agent on site to handle things like showings, etc.

1. In this market, you really have to stay on top of the changes every single week. I was pretty confident I priced my home right – you know, being a Redfin blogger for my own neighborhood and all. Well, that went out the window after two plus months on the market. I did price my home right initially. But prices were sliding steadily, homes were slow to sell, and I needed to be more flexible in price from the get-go.

2. Never do an incremental price reduction when real estate prices are falling. If you have to drop the price, drop it down to the next price point so you can catch the eye of more buyers. (i.e. drop from a $505k price tag to a $495k one, rather than $505k to $501k.) I dropped the price down twice during the sale of my home. The first time, it was a mere 2%. (Nothing happened.) Then I dropped it down another 3%. (The calls came pouring in and one of the original buyers came back with a higher offer.) The last price drop clearly was the winner.

3. Don’t bother with the lookee-loos. You know. The ones who aren’t ready to buy yet, but just want to check out your place. Buyers without an agent probably aren’t ready to buy for many, many months. You’ll know that if they have an agent, they’ve at least been prescreened so they should be able to afford your home.

4. Stay the heck out of the way. I opened my door, let the buyers and their agent in, and made myself scarce outside of the home. This way, I avoided the unwanted game of 20 questions from the buyers (can we say awkward and bad for negotiating karma?). And I avoided the wayward glance sideways of those who exited quickly because they clearly weren’t interested in buying.

Does anyone have a story to share about selling in this market? Please do.

  • Scott McIntosh

    I totally agree with 1,2,4 and partially agree with 3.

    You have to be constantly monitoring the market to see what is selling and for what. But almost as important you have to pay attention to whats on the market not selling. When dealing with a price reduction, why reduce it 3-4 thousand, that’s not going to turn any heads. You are correct that you have to be ahead of the curve and catch the next price point. However, you must create a sense of value to the buyers. That can be done with condition of the home or the price specifically. If your a seller and you around during a showing, that is usually not good. It can make the buyers feel uncomfortable and they might not spend too much time in the home if you are there. Lastly, the lookee-loos. I agree that more often than not these people are months away from purchasing. But you shouldn’t disregard anyone or treat anyone differently, because you never know if they turn out to be the buyer.

  • Christina Chan

    Thanks for the comments, Scott. Some nice points in there. If anyone else wants to add, please do.

  • Emma

    I don’t agree with your comment on buyers without an agent present. What if they are working with redfin and are touring the house by themselve to save some $$ on the price redfin charges for showings? You are using redfin for the same reason, so why the hate for redfin’s buyers?

  • Christina Chan

    Hi Emma-

    I’m not excluding Redfin buyers whatsoever. Even a Redfin buyer “has an agent”. I am talking about people who just happened to drive by and decide it’d be a good idea to just see what your place looks like or are just in the research phase. But Scott has a good point that anyone could turn out to be a buyer down the road.

  • Marcy

    I know what Christina is saying, and I’ve seen quite a few of these folks over the months. They are not buyers, they are the curious. I don’t know if I necessarily agree 100%, though I do agree with not wasting time with those who do NOT have an agent, pre-approval, etc. If your home is priced well, by the time an unrepresented person picked an agent and jumped through the correct hoops, you’d have already accepted an offer from someone else.

    I look at it as though it’s a marathon – you train for it, right? If you didn’t, you won’t finish, and you’re just going to get in people’s way who did. Unless of course, the unrepresented person has a briefcase full of cash for the full asking price. That would up their attractiveness considerably.

    The only part I didn’t completely agree with, is not bothering if the agent isn’t WITH them. I and my husband do 99% of the legwork and running around in our search for a home. We know exactly what we are and are not cool with in a house, and we see no need whatsoever to force our agent to accompany us in our extensive driving about. Especially since we have looked at over 75 houses so far, and only offered on two. That would be horribly unfair to have made them trail in our wake this past 6 months. We call them in when we need to get inside a place, or I want some background info, or we have decided to make an offer. That’s it. They don’t need to leave home on our account but rarely. I do keep a stack of their business cards in my bag, and leave one behind at every house we hit.

    I don’t offer up the information that we are represented unless asked, so I suppose to most folks at the open houses we’ve been to, it appears as though we are just gawking. Well, prepared gawkers with camera and taking lots of notes.

  • Christina Chan

    Thanks for the comments, Marcy.

    I also think it’s okay if buyers don’t have an agent with them if they have set up an appointment (through their agent) to look at a home. Buyers going to open houses can obviously browse as they please during the showing.

    I never had an open house when I was selling.