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It started with a text from an old friend ‘Do you want a referral for a listing?’ I looked at who this was coming from and replied ‘yes!!’ My friend was referring his own realtor from back east who had suddenly found herself dealing with her aunt’s estate in Portland. She was already in Portland along with her sister and I went up into SW hills to meet them. It’s a tough job, dealing with a passing you weren’t expecting and taking a crash course in a real estate market in a city (and state) that you don’t know. My clients were both realtors, one in Connecticut, the other in Massachusetts, both of which have very different laws surrounding the purchase and sale of real estate. My job was to educate them in the nuances of Oregon law, vagaries of the Portland real estate market and to help them organize the sale of all possessions unwanted by family.
The problem facing me was a small but beautiful home in the west hills on a double lot on a street dominated by larger homes. The house itself needed some upgrading and remodeling in order to make it work better for the way people like to live now. Most problematic was the upstairs bathroom, clearly an afterthought and not very well conceived, the kitchen was tired and disconnected from any other room and the main bathroom was on the ground floor, also in need of updates. However, the living room and dining room were both full of beautiful original details and would be the thing that hooked a buyer – well that and the second lot, currently all grass with a couple of trees which could potentially be divided and sold separately. We all agreed that it would be a shame if the two lots were separated, a growing family was our desired buyer who would cherish the large grassy playground.
Finding comps for this house was tricky and at this point I was glad that my sellers were well versed in the art of putting together a comparable market analysis and understood the problem. I felt very strongly that we should market the house for $850,000 as the cost of upgrading would run to about $200,000 when all said & done. Even with the separate lot it might not quite be a million dollar home once this was achieved.
For the past few of years the Portland market has thrived best on slightly under priced homes, selling very fast, often with multiple offers that bring a higher price. What has worked far less often is pricing a house at the perceived rate (based on sold prices rather than offering price coupled with time on market) and watching it sit and sit, go through a couple of price reductions before finally arriving at the price everyone likes and selling after 90 days or more. My sellers operated in a market where this almost never happens and whilst a house might sit for months waiting for a buyer, the price WILL be achieved, and so my strategy was hard to swallow. They very much wanted to be closer to that magical one million mark and so we went to market with a $925,000 price tag.
Almost immediately we got an offer (full price) and almost as fast the buyer backed out as they realized the scope of repairs and upgrades. And then we sat and sat and sat. We had two price reductions $895,000 and finally $869,000 and here’s where the prophesy came true. Within hours of reaching the right price we had multiple offers and we ended up with exactly what we had wished for – a growing family who loved the yard, wanted to do the work and offered us $900,000. They (and their agent) were lovely to work with, everyone happy, everyone feeling like they had got exactly what they wanted….. months after we started marketing the house.
So the moral of the story is LISTEN TO YOUR REALTOR! Even when they are telling you a story that sounds completely ass over tit, they generally know what they’re talking about!!
I am both a Realtor and Interior Designer. I have transitioned from simply selling homes to selling what makes homes beautiful.
©Suze Riley 2013