First Person: Learning From My First Home Sale

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In 1983 I bought my first home, one that my then wife and I knew would be our home forever. I was wrong on both accounts. In 1991, we sold that house and bought one a little closer to New York City, which would be a better commute for us.

Selling a house presented many different challenges as compared to buying one. Possibly the biggest lesson that you must learn is that your lovely, picture perfect home which is filled with great memories, will not be viewed the same way by perspective buyers. Buyers viewed the "house" as being simply Sheetrock and two by fours. More succinctly, my fond memories could not be reflected in the sales price.

First impressions do matter. I know that from a buyer's perspective, I expect that a property should look warm and inviting. As a seller, I needed to magnify that thought process ten times. We had to always have things looking perfect for the prospective buyer who usually wore white gloves. Learning to keep things uber-neat can be a challenge for many people, especially those who favored the relaxed, casual look.

My five bedroom home, in Westchester, NY was situated on an acre of land, surrounded by trees and had an in-ground swimming pool. The market in 1991 was tipping towards a buyer's market and I had to realize that just because I liked the pool, not all buyers would. In fact, for a majority of people who looked at the home, the fact that it had a pool was a turn-off. Whether something is an asset or liability is in the eye of the beholder which means buyer.

There was someone who did view my pool as an asset. It was a couple with three children so the five bed room home was a good size. Once we had an accepted offer, my realtor told us that we should not have any direct contact with the buyer again. The home inspection uncovered a few minor issues that we were happy to correct. However, no matter how many times we spoke to our relator, we were not able to see what one of the problems was. I decided to contact the buyer directly and they were able to more clearly describe the area of concern. It was something that we could easily correct. I think that it might be better to keep an open line of communication between the parties rather than rely on messages being relayed between several parties.

Our contract called for payment by certified check or cashier's check, drawn on any bank in New York State. It is a common condition. Our buyer, showed up with two third part checks, and one was drawn on a bank in Boston, Massachusetts. That was totally not acceptable because the funds would not have been available for several days. Fortunately, our buyer worked for a local bank and was able to exchange those two checks for a cashier's check and everything proceeded smoothly.

I have to admit that since 1991 I have been involved in four other closings and they all had minor speed bumps, but they all closed!


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