Fourteen years on and I still regret selling our very first home the way we did. This house was special to us as it was our first home, our first renovation project together and of course, it was our home when we were married.
Thinking about the next stage in our lives, we decided to move on and appointed a family friend to sell our home. She was an agent for a large multi-national real estate company and was known to us – so, what could possible go wrong?
The agent met with us on the Monday afternoon at 4:30pm and my wife and I proudly walked her through our home pointing out the benefits and highlights and asking advice about whether we should replace some carpet, and ‘touch-up’ light scuffing on a couple of walls before going to market. We were very quickly told that the stained carpet and scuffed walls would not affect the selling price as current market conditions indicated that the house was in a “Hot Spot” and buyers would overlook these things.
We were then presented with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which compared our home (the term property is a bit impersonal don’t you think?) to recent sales of similar properties within a 5km radius. Based on our own research, we told the agent that we expected to sell for $500,000, however according to the data supplied; similar properties had recently fallen short of that mark. We decided on the spot that we would sit tight and wait for the market to move a bit. In an absolute flash, the agent eagerly pushed an appointment of agent contract in front of us and told us we could possibly have someone from their database through the next day. So naturally, we signed.
I remember thinking as she left; OMG, have we done the right thing? Have we got the right person? It all seemed rushed.
Three days later the agent came through our home with her camera and snapped four photos, she told us on her way out that there will be a party coming through in 30 minutes…you guessed it, my stomach hit the floor - the house was a mess! But, before I knew it they were there, and after 20 minutes they all just left - gone, no comment, nothing.
An offer came through later that afternoon and the agent insisted on speaking to us face to face without disclosing the offer over the phone. The excitement in her voice was immeasurable – she insisted that my wife must be present (indicating she couldn’t recall her name!). The offer came in at $485,000, which was okay as a starting point and a basis for negotiation (so we thought). But, the agent was adamant that we sign acceptance of the offer because it was ‘a great start’ and if there was additional interest at the first scheduled open home it may drive the initial offer up. ‘Who knows? It could crack the magical $500,000!’
On the other hand, she told us to take the money and move on, as it will be the best we could hope for and the offer would be retracted that evening if not accepted. What to do? Two conflicting reasons to make us sign, two really good reasons why we should have heard alarm bells. But we signed, she talked the talk and we trusted her.
We were to be the first open home for that Saturday morning and we were ready with a spotless house and heartbeats like racehorses. The open home announcement was still sitting loud and proud on the internet listing, but the agent had called past and plastered a SOLD sticker on our sign. We were gutted as we watched 15 groups of people turn up and drive off. It was at this point that I knew we had undersold our house and missed the opportunity to set a new street price record.
It doesn’t end there though. The following Monday we received a flyer in our letterbox, along with the rest of the neighbourhood, boasting the fast sale of our own home along with the sold price of $485,000. My wife was devastated and of course the shock and tears followed and we fell into a really low point.
Here’s the knock on effect of that flyer that the agent never considered: when farewelling our neighbours upon moving out, it became apparently obvious that one person was most unhappy with us as she was hoping to list her home soon but had changed her mind due to the median house price being compromised by our sale. She told us that we had cost her $20,000. That was not the farewell hug we expected.
Knowing what I know now, if that house was marketed correctly and styled and presented the way our own intuition told us it should be, we would have set a record price.
I’m going to be bold here and say that our agent cost us $30,000 and we paid her to do it…