House Sale Details

I know its long overdue that we share some additional details around the sale of our house.

When we were looking to sell the house, we knew about the high level process and got estimates from different contractors, but we could’nt find information on fair price of any given task, what are surprises that can come up during inspection and appraisal, and mostly, could we do this on our own if we had the time.

Lets dive into details. This is the summary of all costs that we paid out-of-pocket before commissions.

  • Staging for a Crate and Barrel appeal – $2500
  • Painting (all rooms except the loft and entry) – $2050
  • Repairs (Caulk, Seal, Thermostat, – trees, tile repair , light fixing etc) – $650
  • Carpet Cleaning – $375
  • Power washing – Patio and Drive way – $320
  • Inspect Roof/Gutters/ Power wash roof  – $320
  • Replace all Bulbs – $125
  • Extermination – $ 550
  • Furnace servicing – $275
  • Clean trim and window boxes with moss out solution – $130
  • House Cleaning – $200
  • Landscaping ( new sod/mulch and weekly maintenance till closing) – $450

Yes, we did spend a bunch – part of it was ‘deferred maintenance costs’ – like fixing the thermostat, repairing the cabinet door that was cracked, fixing the microwave handle etc. Others were mandatory like adding CO detectors at each level. Yet others were to ensure that the house sparkles and get the online buyers to actually come in and see the house. Also there were surprise elements that we did not account for in our calculations like the extermination – one dead mouse in crawl space cost us $550!

We only fixed things initially that will put off buyers aesthetically – others, we waited for them to point out during inspection before we fixed it. This is standard practise in business. Our microwave was old with a broken handle and peeling interior paint and I was considering replacing it but since the inspection report didn’t ask for it, we saved a few $$ on it.

What were the hiccups?

The ride wasn’t smooth at all. The initial part of coordinating the repairs, paints, landscaping, cleaning and staging was finely orchestrated by our real estate agent, Denise. Although we did put together a schedule, when we were running a day late on the painting, Denise coordinated with everyone to let them know when to come so that the stagers come after the carpets are dry but leave before the cleaners come who had to finish before the photo shoot was arranged.

I digress, but the best part about Denise were the daily updates on progress, and options with recommendations when issues were found – all this when she was already working on a reduced commission for remote sellers!

While our fantastic general contractor, Donn Keith, was cleaning out the roof and gutters, he noticed issues that he thought would come up with inspection and cause costly roof repairs later, he did a fix that would prevent them in the first place. I think it pays to have a great contractor and I can’t recommend him enough! Thanks Aarti for sharing his contact info!!

Denise took care of arranging for the photo shoot – but as luck would have it, it snowed that day and we had to Photoshop some snow out for the e-flyer so that the house really stood out. With that ready, we worked on the marketing content ( 140 word limit!!) on email and we were live on March 15th.

Two very busy open houses later, we received offers and we reached mutual acceptance.

The next step was inspection. They found minor issues other than the extermination which cost us additional $550. BTW, when the buyer submits the inspection report, they pay for the inspection, but think the seller will fix everything. Seller can counter with what they will fix and if they don’t reach mutual acceptance then the deal can fall through. Buyer gets to keep the earnest money at this point.

After inspection, comes appraisal. Given the market, even though we had two really good comps ( neighbor sold for $435K and down the street house sold for $450K), the house didn’t appraise for the asking price. We had option to get another appraisal (we pay for it) , challenge the current appraisal, walk away from the deal and find another buyer (and hope he user another bank/appraiser combo) or bargain with the buyer to still buy for the asking price.Denise spent time trying to convince the appraiser, but to no vail.

As the buyers were really interested in the house and we didn’t want to pay for another appraiser or put the house back on market (and keep paying mortgage), we split the price difference in half. Again a plethora of documents needed to be signed for the new price by both parties.

The house was inspected, repairs completed as indicated, appraisal was in place and we dared to think we were clear. But we rejoiced prematurely. The buyers still had to conduct a walk through to examine repairs from the inspection and they came back with additional items that were not in the inspection report.

Besides asking for receipts for the repairs and extermination, they wanted the patio tiles to be caulked ( as some were loose), they wanted front path tiles to be fixed( they were simply laid out on gravel and not really cemented), another round of house cleaning and get the TV HDMI cable hole covered. The sad part was they threatened to postpone closing by almost 2 weeks at this point. We had so much time and energy vested in getting this to fruition that it was beyond upsetting. And it would have cost us $700 in interest over those 2 weeks. We offered them $100 to fix those issues so that we could close on time, which they declined.

To move things along, we fixed few things and threatened to keep the earnest money if they didn’t close on time  and move to the second buyer who had made an offer. Huge thanks to our contractor Donn for repairing the additional items quickly so that a second walk-through could be completed the morning of closing. The night before the second walk-through, Vipul and I couldn’t sleep. We were relieved when Denise emailed that the walk through was complete and they were no other issues.

Finally onto Closing

The escrow company prepares the closing documents a few days ahead of actual closing. The documents are signed by both parties and the buyer brings in the down payment check at this point. Our buyer completed the document signing on time but conveniently forgot to bring the check. They promised to get the check the next day before noon so we could proceed with closing in the afternoon. Another long night for us while we waited for email updates on the check receipt and completion of closing process from escrow company. Finally at 6 am in the morning – we received the much awaited news – We were sold.

Can you do this on your own?

Totally.  Our excellent contractor was one stop shop for all repair work and extremely reliable but was not the cheapest. If we were around,we could have easily handled some of the painting and repairs on our own or hired cheap labour from outside Home Depot! We would have likely saved 3-4 K in repairs if we were around – but oh well!

Two weeks later, I still can’t believe we sold our house, remotely. The day we closed was not as emotionally disturbing as was the day Lisa from Lisa Lucas Designs Staging company came by to select the neutral colors/furniture etc. She was going to strip off all the things that made that house our home and make it Crate and Barrel like – everything that you covet in a magazine but don’t really have in your own home. I cried that night like a baby.

Here’s hoping that the new owners treat our home just as lovingly as we did.


About rutujak

A travel addict, self confessed foodie and a mom trying to make SFO my home after a decade in Seattle and a stint in Hyderabad, India.

Posted on May 1, 2012, in India Relocation and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I came across your blog by chance and started reading since it is interesting to read about someone (like myself) who lived in US for a decade and moved back to India. I saw this entry about selling the home and this part of your blog really touched me “The day we closed was not as emotionally disturbing as was the day Lisa from Lisa Lucas Designs Staging company came by to select the neutral colors/furniture etc. She was going to strip off all the things that made that house our home and make it Crate and Barrel like – everything that you covet in a magazine but don’t really have in your own home. I cried that night like a baby.”
    Very nicely written. We just bought a home and I can feel what you are saying 🙂

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