I remember back on June 27th that someone named Slashchick wrote that we’d never sell our house for more than Zillow listed it for. And, if we did, it would have taken weeks or months.
Long story short: she was wrong. It sold in four days. For way more than Zillow was listing it for. (We didn’t want to jinx the sale by blogging about it, but everything is pretty much finished up now, so I can blog about it finally).
This gets to something that I’ve noticed. Many bloggers and commenters are pessimistic. I’m an optimist! Well, that, and we have a real estate agent who looks out for us.
Remember how we bought this place? We were going to Stan’s office to sign papers to buy another house. Maryam had looked at 50 houses back three years ago. When we got there he said “another place just came on the market and I think you should see it.”
He didn’t go for the quick and easy sale. He didn’t need to do that, he already could feel his 3% lining his pockets. But, he decided to do some extra work. Something Maryam and I have always appreciated about Stan.
Anyway, that turned out to be a HUGE windfall for us. This house went up in price much faster than the other place we were thinking of buying.
It sold for almost what we were asking for the house (in the $440,000 range — Zillow listed its value as $414,000 — we bought this house for $295,000 three years ago). One thing Zillow can’t show is how much was invested in the house after buying. We put thousands of dollars in the house in repairs and upgrades.
Other houses in our neighborhood have not sold as fast. The market is switching from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market but some markets remain hot. If you have a great house that the market wants it’ll pay the price. Stan knew that because he knew our market. If I tried to sell myself I probably would have just asked for Zillow’s price, which would have been a mistake. One thing I learned in the camera store I used to work at: it’s very easy to lower your price, it’s nearly impossible to raise it.
Down in Silicon Valley I know a guy who just got into a bidding war over a house (he won, but paid FAR above the original asking price). So, even in “over priced” California the housing market is still strong.
Why did our house sell? Well, it had all the attributes that home buyers look for. Quiet street. Roomy. Great yard. Curb appeal. Nice neighbors.
So, why did we get a house in Half Moon Bay and pay WAY UNDER Zillow’s estimated price? We bought that for $900,000, where the owners were asking $930,000 and Zillow said it should sell for $1.127 million.
We win on both sides of this deal.
Why didn’t the owners of that home get what they wanted? Well, because the Half Moon Bay house was put on the market in the summertime. There’s a few things you should know about that. First, the heat in the valley pulls in ocean air. That means fog. Cold. Wet. We ignored that.
Second, there’s a major road into the Half Moon Bay area that’s out right now (Hwy 1, which is out at Devil’s Slide until late September). So, that means traffic. Traffic. Horrible commutes. We ignored that too.
But other buyers didn’t.
Oh, how did we find that house in Half Moon Bay? One of Maryam’s best high-school-friends, Katherinne Garzon, is now a real estate agent. She was looking for the best housing investments for us in the San Francisco area. She also encouraged us to low-ball our offer and see what happens. We held back our enthusiasm for the house (it was the first and only house I looked at because I fell immediately in love with it) and knew we were playing a game of chicken. If another buyer had showed up we would have lost that game. I’ve learned to listen to the professionals, though, and it all worked out.
Aside: I see George Ou talking about the heat and power problems that they are having in Silicon Valley right now. I can see nuclear power in our future. The pressure on the system to keep supplying us with cheap power is going to be extreme. We’ve gotten addicted to our computers and our air conditioners and our HDTVs.
Anyway, I’ve come to appreciate the Zillow blog. It’s informative, well written, and I love the heat maps. Not the temperature, but how “hot” a market is.
But, the lesson here is that Zillow’s prices are a guideline and you shouldn’t take them as gospel. Real prices will vary by neighborhood and, even, by house as we’ve found.
Personal note to Slashchick: stick to your day job.
We’ll miss Bothell. I definitely have mixed emotions today.