How I failed to sell my SF studio at the right time

I am writing to share my experience selling my place in San Francisco. A hot market that is likely to get a lot of offers. Don’t get me wrong; we did get the offers, but we failed at taking them. This note is for my future self and for those of you who are considering selling your place.

Mistake No 1. Thinking it is easy and letting other people take care of everything for you.

My property was co-owned by my ex and me. We had an agreement where I pay him, and he takes care of the whole thing. He found an agent, and I agreed to hire her without meeting her.

It went smooth in the beginning until the appraisal came in at a much lower price and the buyer backed out. That was the turning point for us, and when all the drama began.

It was my fault for believing that selling a house was an easy task. Paying an agent doesn’t mean he or she will represent our interests. It is only easy if you don’t care too much about the outcome, and if you are patient.

Mistake No 2. I didn’t aim at a precise price range.

My ex and I would talk on the phone, think how much the place is going to sell for and come up with a ridiculous number. Come on, people, it is San Francisco! You can ask for anything, right?

We were out of our minds, and the market proves it. I suggest doing some research and asking for second opinions (See Mistake No 3).

Work with your agent to define a reasonable price range (backed up by data), and stick with it. We had three offers, and we ended up getting a deal which is 32k lower than the first offer. And this mistake played a critical role.

Mistake No 3. Picking a referral agent and making a commitment without knowing of other the proposed strategies.

It is a problem! When you shop for $100 clothes, you try it on and compare, then decide. You should do the same with picking your agent. Ask them for an evaluation of your place, the market value, and a strategy. Also, ask to see how many houses he or she has sold in the past six months, and if those homes are like yours! Ask for an evaluation on how much he/she thinks the place can rent out. It’s not for renting out, it just reflects the agent’s knowledge about the market. These are all crucial things to know. In our case, our agent was too optimistic about the value and that leads us to wrong expectation. My agent has eight years of experience, but she doesn’t understand the studio value in SF.

The first appraisal came back with 17k lower than our selling price. That was the real market value, but the agent told us it was low. Our expectations were set too high. We were the unreasonable sellers. Either our agent is too kind to tell us the truth or she didn’t know the market value. So learn from this, the agent you hire needs to be the most up to date on the current market. I would recommend you go with a blunt agent rather than a stunning one because you need to know the truth.

Mistake No 4. Stay on the market for too long.

Potential buyers are likely to offer you at a lower price than what you are asking. It is inevitable because most likely you will only have one offer. If you are desperate, take it. If not, take if off the market and wait. After the appraisal came in low, we had two more offers. Our wrong expectations ended up in refusing the offers.

There is always a reason for not receiving offers in San Francisco. Either your agent is doing something wrong, or your price is too high. You need to re-evaluate your price and be sensitive about the days you are on the market. Over a month it is a red flag, and you need to figure out why! I reached 60 days, and that was too long. So act fast when this red flag shows up!

Mistake No 5. Expecting everyone will be happy.

Another mistake I have made was not being straight forward with my red flags. Especially when this ex had taken side with the agent we hired. No one wants to be the bad kid on the block. But I was the person always raising questions and pointing problems. For example, why were we buying a $4000 bed and paying another $2000 staging for this small studio? If you had avoided mistakes one and three, you would not have that problem. In my case, my agent refused to return the bed even though she said I could sell the bed for $5000. I found that hard to believe.

Pay close attention to what your intuition tells you about your agent. You’ll have to trust him or her on big decisions. Be straightforward with your feelings. What is most important is you get what you want and make sure your agent understands that.

Conclusion

There are few important things to sum it up it. Hire an agent you trust, and plan ahead for the goals and strategies. We got three offers from the same buyer who must think we are the funniest sellers in the whole universe. He offered a price we rejected. Then we asked for less, and he offered again, we still refused. We lowered the price, even more, we sabotaged our sale to 10K less in the end to the same buyer.

Right now, I am hoping to get this deal done and get over with it. I am hoping if you are planning to sell your place, this can help you a little bit. What’s most important is to pick an agent who understands your goals. Keep the communication going, and be honest and respectful throughout the whole process. It shouldn’t be that difficult. I am just an edge case, and I blame myself for it.