Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Second place is just the first loser" - Dale Earnhart

Update (6/17): The prospective buyer's deal fell through today (apparently, the seller decided they didn't want to move after all). Buyer and her parents are coming back tomorrow to give our house a fresh look. Wish us luck!

I've tried to keep my personal trials and tribulations on selling a house in this market off this blog -- in part because it's a bit depressing (and I aim to entertain) and in part because I'm frustrated beyond words. But today I feel compelled to break my silence; if only in the hope that getting it off my chest will make me feel better.

Today we received word that the radiologist who looked at our house on Saturday (and again yesterday) decided to go with another (more expensive) home in our neighborhood. The buyer's realtor assured us that we were "the second choice" and, should things fall through, that they'll be back. Well, I'm not going to hold my breath. This is the third time that our house has placed second in the minds of prospective buyers -- and I'm completely sick of hearing that. Telling me that just makes it that much harder because of the unshakable feeling that I came this close to getting an offer -- and making the sale. Suddenly, I find myself obsessing over figuring out which home they went for instead of mine...and then why.

The truth is, "why?" is a difficult puzzle to solve. In my day job, I negotiate contracts for the purchase and sale of energy commodities on a daily basis. These sales are logical and transparent, in part because these goods are completely fungible (after all, an electron is an electron) and the buyers and sellers are experienced and sophisticated counterparties. But in real estate, while you can attempt to quantify a house in terms of location, square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, there's a huge qualitative factor that makes setting a market price -- or explaining why one house sold faster than another -- much more difficult. To make matters worse, buyers and sellers are rarely experienced and sophisticated parties. People tend to price a house or buy a house more emotionally than rationally. Sure, I can chalk up this second place finish to just personal taste (which there is no accounting for), but for someone who is used to logical market behavior, the real estate market is incredibly mysterious -- and frustrating.

In my less hysterical moments, I know that we will eventually sell our current house. After all, we've already received an offer on it (albeit one we chose not to take) and we're still getting plenty of traffic. Yet I find myself increasingly jaded and far less hopefully than I was earlier this spring when we first put the house up for sale. In conversation with friends and family, I've often compared selling a house to dating and I believe the metaphor is still apt. Now I remember exactly why I was completely sick of dating by the time I met my husband. It's exhausting.

P.S. - While I would welcome reassurance, please don't tell me that I'm sure to sell soon or how great my house is, etc. It's rather like the long-suffering single bridesmaid being told by all her married girlfriends that "you're next!" or "the right guy just hasn't come along yet!"

14 comments:

Christy said...

Before staying home with little ms foo, I used to work for one of the big four tax and accounting firms writing proposals for new business business development. One of our niches was the energy market - when you mentioned recently that you had spent the day at such a conference, I felt bad for you...and thought, hmmm wonder if any of my colleagues down there know her in real life. If they did, I would surely send them your way - because your house is gorgeous and I think anyone who views it is crazy NOT to snap it up.

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

OK, I won't try to make you feel better - just know my situation is more sad...We have a house in northeastern North Carolina (where we moved from Houston two years ago when Hubster took the job w/ The Feds) Anyway, amazing, beautiful, old home that's been on the market...oh, about 16 months - NO OFFERS, not a one!
People would rather pay MORE money for a "cookie cutter" home than ours that has amazing, original woodwork, etc. - Arrgghhh!

Oh yeah....and when we put our Heights home for sale in 2006 - it sold for asking price on the first day, so, I imagine we're a bit spoiled.....{sigh}

Things That Inspire said...

Since I am hoping to move within the next few years (I have been looking for a house for so long, and am leaning towards building as I can't find what I want) - I am reading this with great interest. I think about when we bought our current house - there were five offers within 48 hours, and yet the decor was average. The floor plan is amazing, which is what sold us, and which is why we are still in this house 12 years later (we now have 3 kids and a dog, none of which we had 12 years ago).

Keep us posted!

Kellie ~ Ada and Darcy said...

Shame you cannot have peonies there either. How rude!

Not sure what to say about the house other than..... Ummm.... Keep sharing your pain with your blogging friends!!! :) x

Kara said...

When it comes to emotion there is just no way to explain it. Hang in there - it will happen.

Quotidian Grace said...

~sound of teeth grinding~

Liz said...

Anyone who ever said having your home for sale is easy is totally crazy. It's tough, emotionally and on a day-to-day basis having to keep everything "just so." I've got my fingers crossed for you guys!!

Kristina with a K said...

I can't speak from experience so I won't say much. Our current house is our first home. But I will say I am keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Sanity Fair said...

I love that quote, but not the story. Hang in there. Waiting is worse often than the troubles we fear - be good to yourself, and take opportunities to relax and focus on brighter things.

Style Redux 2 said...

Averill-You have too much on your plate between your job, the new house, your trip, and selling this house. With your taste, I'm sure it shows beautifully. If others around you are selling, it's priced too high perhaps. Lower the price or rent it for a year or two until the real estate market improves. (An aside, my first job out of law school was with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. My husband's practice is primarily commodities and securities litigation.)

Jacquelyn said...

I can so relate...absolutely love this post and your humour in it all...14 years ago we were building a spec home (my husband's a general contractor), the market fell and we sold our home and moved into the spec home...my hubby said "don't unpack or hang pictures, we're not staying"...that was 14 years ago lol

sew jody said...

There is nothing enjoyable about having to list and sell and show a home :(

Did I mention it stinks in every way possible.

Feeling your frustration. Loving your blog.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we get an update #2 that you SOLD IT!??!!?!? Hope so! - Jessica

Alicia said...

I can so relate. When selling my home back in Michigan a couple chose a home with 300 feet less square footage because the basement was fully finished(mine only 80%) with an outdated tv!! Even their agent told me they were the dumbest couple she literally ever had. Did I mention they paid $20,000 more too. I cried for 3 days straight wishing I could explain that the basement didnt even count in sq footage since its not real space..but no they bought it.

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