Monday, July 14, 2008
HELP! Selling my House and Buying Another
How many of you have had to sell your current house and buy another? Oh my gracious! Is this not the most stressful situation in the world?
Buying a house seemed like so much fun. I figured all you do is find a house you like and buy it. If only it were that simple!
First of all, I've got a sizeable amount of equity in my current home. So, my idea is that I'll sell it and use the proceeds to buy another. Sounds easy, right? NOT! In order to sell my current house in such a crummy housing market, I would need to make my house "sellable."
I did the research - watched HGTV, talked to friends, talked to realtors, read all I could on the subject of selling your house. I started making the necessary repairs. I freshened everything up - paint, floors, yard, decluttered - I even replaced some outdated fixtures and refinished cabinets. It would make sense to move the majority of our stuff out of the way for buyers to better visualize their own stuff in there. But, what do I do with our stuff? It's dumb to rent a storage unit - we might as well live in it! We could box our stuff up and put it in the garage, but, again, we'd be digging in the boxes every day.
So, I started thinking, "Maybe we ought to go ahead and move and the house will be ready for sale." Duh! How can we do that when we need the proceeds to buy another house with!? So, why not take out a home equity loan, buy the new place with it and pay it back when the old house is sold? Not that easy either! Did you know there are sometimes pre-payment penalties? Gee whiz! They penalize you for giving them their money back!
Okay, that's enough of the financials for now. Finding another house - not so easy either! I've searched online - half the time, the listings are old - you get all excited and then find out the house is sold or otherwise off the market. The photos provided are a joke! The houses never look the way they are portrayed! The picture may be 6 months old and now the grass is higher than the house! Or the picture was taken when the house was in way better condition. And forget about trying to find someone to let you see the inside of the house! You send them an email and maybe you'll get a response a week later!
I've tried riding around the neighborhoods I was interested in to see what "for sale" signs are out. I would call the real estate company on the sign and then they try to find an agent to help you - you get the rookie who just got their license last month and has never sold a house before! Ug!
The biggest problem with using or finding an agent is that they work on commission. They are not enthusiastic about selling a house under 100k - that's pennies to them! That's been my experience anyway. One agent I contacted to help me, sent me a couple of listings - the exact same ones I had already been familiar with online!
I don't know why I thought she might know of other places for sale - that's the help I needed. I mean, there are "for sale by owners" (I hate FSBOs because most of the time these sellers are looking for unreasonable compensation. If they're too cheap to pay an agent, what makes you think they're going to give a buyer a break?)
There are also foreclosures, and pre-foreclosures, and bank-owned properties, and properties under court order to be sold. There are usually ridiculously costly "membership" fees for access to the information - sites like realtytrac.com (which is notorious for outdated information and inaccurate information.) Most real estate agencies already have access but don't and won't share that with us commonfolk either because they offer little commission or the agents want the properties for themselves! Public records my eye!
And let me tell you about some of these listing websites! Some display the properties specs, like how many bedrooms, the square footage, etc - but won't give you an address or let you see a picture or know the price or give you any additional information until you sign up for their "service."
But I have developed a system - I can check the real estate listings on Yahoo.com, then go to either zillow.com or exitrealestategallery.com or ziprealty.com or realtor.com and figure out which property it is by using the maps. Then, if I am interested, I can go to the address and get the seller or agent's info off the "for sale" sign! How ridiculous is this?!
Everybody knows the housing market is a big game. If you see a place you like, don't hesitate - go see it - get the ball rolling - there are plenty others out there looking too! I finally got in touch with one of the selling agents only to be told the property had just been sold!
You can probably guess I haven't found an agent yet, haven't found a house yet, and definitely haven't sold my house yet. But, I haven't given up yet either. Seeing a property today and another one tomorrow - wish me luck!