Time Frame > Beyond Active Grieving

Selling the house.

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So, we (don't any of you who are rooting for us in our job searching get too excited - nothing has happened yet) are hopefully going to be in a position to sell our house in the next six months and I am seeking advice because, admittedly, I am an art historian and, like cars, this is not my area of expertise.  Here is the background.

In 2010, we bought a 1966 house from the original owner.  She had been living here alone as a widow for 25 years when we bought it so it was already a fixer upper.  The plan (which did not materialize because brain cancer) was to slowly update it over time, keeping its groovy Mad Men features, pay it off and sell it to put our daughter through school.  Ahhhh - the best laid plans....

What wound up happening was none of that apart from the fact that I am still here.  I refinanced to a 15 year mortgage a few years ago and have quite a bit of equity in the house.  But it needs a ton - and a ton is not a strong enough word - of work.  Yet, it could be beyond charming for the right people who are into its unique features, the location (an acre of land in town yet in a good school district), etc. 

If I do no work (and remember, we're both unemployed right now), I think I could sell it for what we paid for it and walk away.  But getting started with renovations would be a bottomless pit and I frankly wouldn't even know where to begin. We will also be selling a house in England hopefully in the next six months so would have some money to put into it but what we were thinking was sell, take the equity out of both of our houses, downsize considerably in the move and buy something much less expensive that requires much less maintenance/expense.  Starting to try to fix this one up doesn't make any sense to me; it could actually be a tear down because there have been others in my neighborhood torn down for new constructions (sad but true).  Does that seem like sound logic? 

How do you sell a house you're living in "as is"?  Do I get a realtor or try to sell it myself?  Is accepting a selling price that is roughly the same as what I paid for it a mistake?  When I look at zillow, it has appreciated but zillow doesn't know about the "issues" that a buyer will inevitably need to invest money in to fix (dated kitchens/bathroom are the big ones but there are small ones, too) it up. 

Mostly, I just know I need to have a plan.  Any experience/advice you might want to share?  I just know I need to be thinking about a strategy in the (fingers crossed) event that we need to unload this albatross. 


Most importantly I think is to get an experienced realtor involved. She'll know the market and how to position the house with its unique characteristics in the best possible light. I don't think you selling it yourself is the way to go in this case.

Also, she'll be able to give you an very good estimate of the final selling price. From this figure, all other things will flow.

My now wife and I sold the two of our homes and bought a third (in a down market) when we got married. Our agent was a godsend and was able to sell the homes quickly for much more than we would have been able to ourselves - even including her fees.

Whatever you decide - good luck! Mike

I'm not sure I would put a lot of work into the house that might not match the tastes of potential buyers.  Your location may actually make your house more valuable than you might think, too.  Perhaps you can get an opinion of one realtor and then think again?

Good luck!


I would definitely get a good local realtor. Most likely they will say to sell as is if the needs are as extensive as you to bring it up to date. Decluttering, if you’re like most of us, is probably the best thing you can do, give the illusion of ample storage space. The worst part of living in the house while trying to sell is keeping things neat and clean all of the time for last minute showings. My method of shoving stuff in closets for company didn’t work because potential buyers look in closets!

Sold 18 months ago..started prepping hoise about 5 months before.

Wanted to sell as is. My house needed a ton of work. (Down to new bathrooms and new roof)..I got low balled a few times..but didn't take the offer (like they offered a 3rd of what the house was worth).

Did end up sinking 30K into house..did everything neutral but high quality. Ended up getting triple the asking price compared to the lowball offers so it was worth it.

And was only on the market 2 days before in contract. Having an empty house just cost you money.

Price it right...but definitely its value. My realtor wanted me to go 10K higher...but in my area houses are on the market for years..then they come down and sell eventually. But stay firm..I refused to negotiate my asking price because I knew it was a good deal. My only regret is I wished I would have just sold it myself. (The opposite of what you are hearing).. A good real estate attorney runs about 1500-2000 but is cheaper than the 6 percent cut realtors get.


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