The open house for Anne’s place happened last Friday. I didn’t really know how it went because subconsciously I was trying to stay away from the whole business of the sale. I went into a little bit of a slump last week; feeling very negative about life in general, wondering why I was bothering to get up; schlumping around the house… and I didn’t really know why. I continued to feel this way even when, by any objective standards, I got two pieces of validation: I placed “in the money” in the novel category for the MCWC writing contest, and one of the youth at VOICES made a point of telling me he got an A in his English class at the junior college, and he thought the writing workshop helped make that happen. Life is good, right? I wasn’t feeling it.
Much later I figured out most of these blue feelings were centered around the house. I’ve said all along that I didn’t have an emotional connection to the house, that the estate work was just a task, one last thing I could do for Anne… but I realized on Sunday that the house is the last tangible thing, and it is going away. And I do have some feelings about that.
I also tend to have low expectations. It took me so long to move forward that I was afraid we’d lose the summer selling season. I was seriously afraid there would be no offers, and I was planning a talk with my realtors about dropping the price when/if that happened.
I went down to the realtors’ office yesterday to review offers. Gene had told me on Saturday that there was one. I was delighted. I thought this would go quickly.
When I got there, he showed me the nine offers that had come in. Seven were over asking price. He’d told me some might come in over asking; I’d assumed they be about $10,000 over. They weren’t. They were $50,000 over. For those of you who like math, that’s 10% over asking price. Some were higher.
I opted for one that was not the highest, but who waived an appraisal, was paying in cash (and provided proof of solvency); and waived an additional inspection. This means the buyer has a pretty good idea of what to expect. Other offers, while higher, wanted a longer escrow and additional inspections, on their dime. Even though I already understand that I am selling the property As Is, a fast sale over asking price seems like a better deal than a slow sale over asking price, especially since I know the buyer will counter “down” as the process continues.
As of yesterday afternoon, the offer I accepted outright was already in escrow, and I counter-offered on two others as back-up offers.
I’m thrilled… and surprised. I understand nothing about real estate or economics, obviously, but this kind of, well, feeding frenzy seems exactly like the housing bubble in the late 2000′s, the ones that led to the housing bubble and ultimately to the recession.
Apparently, investment money from elsewhere (that’s code for “China”) is flowing into the San Francisco Bay Area faster than maple syrup at an IHOP. This flood is juiced up by the tech biz and the techies who want to shorten their commutes. So a person in Daly City can sell her nice tract home for $800,000; buy a cute house in the country, walking distance from town (and don’t forget Starbucks!) for $550,000, spend $100,000 renovating it and still have about $150,000 to invest or spend on fancy wine. Alternately, a contractor can buy it for $550,000, spend $100K rehabing it, and offer it for $800,ooo, if they’re willing to wait awhile. The house is on nearly an acre, and is part of an independent water company. Right now, is this area, those are big plusses.
I said to my realtors, “I don’t understand real estate.” They both started laughing. Bill said, “We’ll tell you a secret… when it comes to pricing a house, nobody knows. The whole process is so volatile.”
They had seventeen showings the day of the open house and five or six after that. Gene said he was flooded with calls over the weekend, and out of that, nine were serious. He said it was the most interest he’d seen in a house in that past four years.
I hope the first offer works out and they get the house, because they are a couple who plan to renovate and live there. If the property were mine, I would really be swayed by that kind of emotional appeal. It’s not, though, and my first duty is to the beneficiaries and the estate. I can justify taking a s lightly lower offer with a shorter escrow in service to getting them their money faster.
And, it may all fall through tomorrow. That could happen. I think it won’t though. I think that ephemeral beastie called “the global economy” will continue to make its presence known, in the most unusual of ways.