The Competition

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 7.03.14 PMDuring a showing at my house on Sunday, I checked out the competition* at an open house. That was a disheartening decision.

The day after my house went on the market, another Victorian a few blocks south was listed for $6,000 more than mine. In many ways, I like my home more. The competition has what I think are asbestos shingles from the 1940s or ’50s (I can’t be sure – but they look a lot like the shingles on my grandparents’ house); mine is brick. And, I think my exterior paint job and curb appeal is much better.

But walk inside, and the competition without question wins the aesthetic first-impression race. There’s a larger entrance hall that runs the length of the house (and back stairs; I love back stairs), a lovely and spacious dining room that opens to the kitchen hall and living room, and a much larger kitchen than mine, with new cabinets and countertops – and more of both. While I’d not have selected those cabinets or countertops (and I prefer my tile floor over the vinyl installed there), there’s no arguing that kitchen is more aesthetically appealing – and the larger space helps to reinforce that.

Go upstairs, and my house is nicer (or maybe not…it’s so hard to tell, but I like my second and third floor better). But the competition has four full bathrooms; never mind that two of them need redoing – there’s four of them. As a single woman without kids, I don’t need four full baths, so to me, that reads as “work.” But I can certainly understand the appeal.

My yard has a nice garden with a bluestone patio (those stones are really heavy, BTW); the competition has a grass-filled backyard with little visual interest or variety. But there’s a driveway.

I also have an almost brand-new electric panel with plenty of room for expansion, newly lined box gutters, newer windows with a high R-value, a new high-efficiency furnace…all things that cost a lot and are necessary. But none of that appeals to the emotions. And I know from looking myself that emotion easily trumps reason. Reason may rear its boring head after the initial impression, but it’s the emotional reaction that counts up front.

So now I’m wondering…do I drop my price after having been on the market only a week, or do I tough it out – and for how long? And if I do drop it, how much is enough to make mine more enticing, given the competition? (There is, of course, a threshold at which my desire to move becomes financially unviable.)

I’m worried…because I love the house on which my contingency offer was accepted. I walked into it and immediately knew, “This is the one.” Even though it needs a new electric panel, lots of gutter and soffit work, the windows are a mess (But original! With storms!),  the a/c unit is possibly older than am I and there’s basically no kitchen.

* Incidentally, does anyone else recall the movie “The Competition” with Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss? It was one of my favorites when I was younger, but I’ve yet to meet anyone else who’s seen it.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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18 Responses to The Competition

  1. John says:

    Hang tough, Megan, your buyer will come. There’ll be a guy like me who comes to open houses and responds to curb appeal but also counts the windows (how many curtains at a zillion dollars a window, etc) and tallies up the renovation costs to factor into the ask/bid question. If you haven’t already, talk to your realtor to discuss the competition and play up the financial positives of your house. I think it’s a little too soon to drop the price. If you cave too quickly you’ll wind up moving even lower. Patience.

  2. That depends. What’s your realtor’s sell rate? I’d be inclined to trust he/she priced the house correctly. Too high or low and that creates problems. Reductions make people wonder what’s wrong with the house. Talk to your realtor.

  3. Frank says:

    Wow, that movie was back in the 80’s about a piano competion. Now I’m dating myself on that one. One more thing never go see an open house, close to you can be very, very bad.

    • fitz says:

      Yes! I tried like hell to learn the Prokofiev piece she played (OK…it wasn’t really her), but my little piano talent was nowhere close to enough (even at a much slower speed).

  4. Terry Chapman says:

    Too soon to lower the price. Sounds like you haven’t done this much before. I enjoy your writing, but if I wanted to buy your house, I would track this blog and use it against you at every opportunity. TMI.
    Also I think staging by some professionals would likely help you. They come in and fix it up and get a lot of your stuff out of the way and make it objectively attractive in a way you cannot. May cost you a bit, but you will likely earn it back on the sale and it may speed it up for you. I sense an emotional attachment here that is working against you. I think you need to go ahead and make the emotional break and cut yourself loose to sell it.
    On the other hand, I design septic tanks for a living :).

    • fitz says:

      It -could- be calculated, you know…how else can I (at least somewhat eloquently) say that brick is the far better choice 😉

      I have thought about packing up most of my books; the personal pictures are, at least gone!

  5. Basshunter says:

    Agreed – I would think it is too early – assuming it is priced correctly…Look up the competition online – you can get a lot of info from the local MLS…If it is over the market, then an adjustment would be necessary…Being above market usually results in a lower price in the end. Definitely consult your agent (which I assume you have already done). Ask about average marketing time, absorption rate for the area, avg list to sales price for recent homes that have sold in the area…Your agent is the best resource to help guide your decision…

    I would also refrain from blogging about your motivations for the sale…The market is very efficient when it comes to consumers learning about a home and the area it resides in…You would be surprised what people can find out about a home these days…

    • fitz says:

      Well, you may be right. So I’ll be clear: yes, I want that other house…but I’m also willing to let it go. And will be quite stubborn about what I would accept for this one, because while I want to move, I don’t have to.

  6. mike mays says:

    Fitz; I would wait to drop the price. you haven’t had any offers or feed back yet. and yours is cheaper and has some better features. get an offer and haggle with price at that point.
    love to hear about the new shop space in the new house. But later, don’t jinx the sale; i’ll wait for that later. and no I’ve never heard of that movie…

  7. Mark says:

    Heed the advice given above. It’s definitely much too soon to drop the price. Heck, six months, should it go that long, is often too soon. Buyers come into and leave the market regularlly. The person who ultimately buys your home may not even be looking in your neighborhood, or know that they will be, until next week or later. And while it’s always good to know how you stand in relation to other homes in your area, you may not be doing yourself any favors by going and comparing yourself. It’s a bit masochistic. I assume your realtor advised you on setting the price. Trust in that until something else makes sense or becomes necessary. You really never know what makes someone want one house over another.

  8. johnhippe says:

    I would agree with everyone else. When we went on the market two months ago our realtor told us that we would set a price based on her evaluation of the market. If, after a month it didn’t sell we would adjust the price. We had tons of traffic — about 15 showings in two weeks. We started getting discouraged because we had lots of showings but no offers. We hung in there and in about three weeks we sold. Its just a matter of waiting for the right person to walk through the house.

  9. Frank says:

    You may get a buyer for the house, but then the banks kick in and the fun begins, I sold my house and have a commitment on another, my buyers bank gave them pre approval and commitment and then dropped them… Now I am in limbo on both. The banks do what they want and don’t care about people’s lives, I am a very calm person but my limits are being pushed to the limits…. So hang it there fitz ,things could be worst

  10. joemcglynn says:

    As others have said, dropping the price now is too soon. It also won’t help with the potential buyer’s emotional response – they will either love your house or not, regardless of the price. If they love it they will make an offer.

    Hang in there!

  11. Bob Blakeborough says:

    If you drop the price right away and there is even a semi interested buyer watching, you might stall them on an offer as they will keep watching for you to drop it even morel, or low-ball you right up front as they will figure you are wanting out NOW! Ride it out if you are willing to let the other house go, or dump it cheaper if you don’t care and just want to be in your new house. Really these are your two choices…

  12. Joshua Pierce says:

    Wow. If I wasn’t just a factory worker I’d be looking to get a job out that way – it looks like the money goes a *lot* farther in your neck of the woods than where I live.

    When we bought, we ended up getting the worst of both worlds – a place that needed the important stuff done, *and* the emotional stuff done. It was all we could afford, but it beat the price of rent in our area in the long run, mostly.

    I’ve seen enough folks fall into the trap of buying on emotions and not substance, though. We’re not in the market, but the houses we keep an eye on now are the ones that have been lovingly maintained in the important department but are incredibly dated and objectively ugly on the inside. A well-done new roof and water heater with a hideous kitchen beats a granite and stainless facelift any day. A good realtor who wants to sell will emphasize this to the right buyers. A bad realtor that wants to sell will downplay the important issues to throw out buzzwords and wow people with pretty. At least that’s our experience.

  13. neatherywise says:

    I don’t have any advice about house-selling. I just wanted to say that I have seen “The Competition” and had completely forgotten about it until I read your post. Great movie, with two intense actors. 🙂

  14. Clark Schoonover says:

    Megan, I ‘ve had the pleasure of meeting you at Jeff Miller’s and at WWIA last year. We just sold and bought on June 1st of this year. Our house had been on the market since last July.with very little action until about April. We closed two days apart (the young man who bought our house was kind enough to let us stay two days for free) and the movers had to take a break while the paperwork got untangled. I remember the movie and was really surprised when Amy’s character had the same last name as I.

  15. Pingback: Hold Steady | Rude Mechanicals Press

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