Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Selling a house in the dark

A few months after we purchased our house, another similar one sold down the street.  Same layout, same style, but this one hadn't been updated to the same extent that ours had.  Our new neighbourhood has many post-war bungalows still inhabited by their original owners.  As those owners are now getting older, the houses are often purchased by young couples and new families, and either updated for their own use, or flipped and sold again. 

This particular house down the street appeared to be a similar case.  We weren't surprised to see the entire home under major renovation after the sale, and it was evident they were adding a second storey.

The house before the renovation & addition

I've been watching eagerly over the past year, to see how it turns out, and hoping desperately that they would do a nice job, instead of turning it into some drippy, gaudy monster home that doesn't suit the neighbourhood.  Overall, I was pretty happy with what they've done, and I think it really improves the street. 

A few weeks before Christmas, I was walking down the street, and noticed that a For Sale sign had been posted!  I was immediately beyond excited to go home and check out the MLS listing.  I wanted to see pictures of the inside and to see what the asking price was.  The only thing that got me more excited, was to notice that there was also an Open House sign!  According to the sign, there was 5 minutes left until it ended, so I rushed through the front door to check it out. 

I was impressed with the house.  While there are some finishes that don't suit my own personal preferences, overall the renovation was done beautifully.  Most impressive was that they had dug out the basement to increase the ceiling height, and they'd also added a walkout from the basement to the backyard.  I was also envious of the mudroom, and the attached garage.  On the flip side, I was left wondering where a family with a house this big would store all their seasonal decorations and other miscellaneous stuff, since the entire basement is finished and the garage is quite narrow.

The house after the renovation & addition

In any case, I was excited to see it for sale, and anxious to find out how much it would sell for, since it will hopefully have an impact on the real estate of our entire street.

Now, I am not a licenced Real Estate Agent, and I can't claim to be an expert.  But here are some issues I foresee:
  • The Open House I attended was in early December, and the house was listed sometime around then.  I have to wonder how many people are buying houses at that time of year?  It was pure luck that I was able to attend the Open House that day - almost every Saturday in December is usually booked up for us, with Holiday parties and Christmas shopping.  I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but wouldn't you rather sell your house when a greater pool of buyers is available?
  • After that first week on the market, it was really and truly the 2-week period surrounding Christmas, when I'm sure almost nobody is buying houses.  That means that the "Days on Market" were just accumulating, not due to lack of interest from prospective buyers, but just due to plain bad timing.  So by the time early January rolled around, and buyers were back on the streets, it could be perceived as a "stale listing".  Not cool.
  • The house is vacant, since it was a flip.  That means there are no lights on inside - or outside for that matter.  I think a wise agent and/or seller would have set up some lights on timers, to lure the attention of drivers-by.  In fact, I think an outside light is completely necessary, because even the For Sale sign is barely visible.
The house at night (where is it?)
I am intrigued now to see how quickly it will sell, and for what percentage of the asking price.  In a neighbourhood where 99%+ is typical, and bidding wars are common, I can't help but think that the agent and the seller have missed out here. 

Time will tell!


  1. As a follow-up, this house did sell shortly after I wrote this post, for $950,000 - only slightly under asking.

  2. That’s a very good observation. Anybody selling a house wants it sold fast. And I can’t think of a better way of doing that than having the right marketing plan. To do that, you should increase the exposure of the property for sale as much as possible, and make a grand showcase to prospective buyers. Congrats on selling the house, by the way!

  3. Thank you for that follow-up, Mary. Well, the price offered for the house wasn’t that bad, though it’s slightly under your asking price. I’m glad the seller took it, because it’s quite hard to find a good buyer these days. Some buyers would take it for a much lower price, which is not very reasonable. I’m glad it was sold quickly than I expected. #Calvin Mordarski

  4. If the house did sell really fast, then it could really be something. But I think it helped that it was well-renovated. Compared to the old picture, the renovation did wonders. How fast did it get sold after the renovation? And I wonder how much they got for it, eventually? Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Denise Bolds @ Vancouver Canada Homes