Living the FSBO Dream

Houses for Birds

In 2005, my wife and I made the decision to move to Vernon from Williams Lake, and finally live out our Okanagan dream. She had the opportunity to transfer within the company she was working for, and I was going to find out what I wanted to be when I grow up. In early 2006, the transfer came through, and being the clever guy that I thought I was, I put our house up for sale…by owner. I had no experience in selling a home, but how hard could it be? Down to the newspaper for a flashy ad, off to the sign shop for a snappy sign, and I’d have the buyers lining up at my door. Or so I thought.

A few weeks went by with a few calls, and a viewing or two, but no real action. Another bill at the newspaper to renew the ad, and the costs were getting higher. My wife tranferred to her new job, and I was left behind to tend to the sale and some renovation work. In the meantime, we were stuck, as we couldn’t put an offer on a home in Vernon since offers “subject to sale” were not being considered at that time. Finally a serious buyer emerged. He had the financing, and he liked the home. After a third viewing, a lowball offer was made. I said no. Then a higher offer, but not high enough. I dropped my price to make the deal happen and we came to an agreement and deposit. We placed an offer on a home in East Hill, in a fabulous neighbourhood, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled…only to have it all come apart.

The financing the buyer claimed to have had, evaporated. He thought he could get a mortgage, but apparently hadn’t bothered to check first. He didn’t have a hope to get any financing at all, so he had to back out of the deal, which meant we had to back out of ours here in Vernon. We were devastated, to say the least.

I still had some finishing to do on the renovations up north, which meant more delays. Once I was close to finishing, I bit the bullet and called in real estate. The market in Williams Lake was starting to move upwards, and I called in an assosciate who was willing to take on the old guard and push the pricing. Eight days after listing, I accepted an offer which was $16,000 higher than previous. We walked away with $5000 more, after fees, in our pockets. To make the deal even sweeter, we were able to come back to the home in Vernon we thought we had lost and bought it for $5200 less than our previous offer. We were up over $10,000 and it was all because we had listed, and had quality real estate assosciates on our side.

Is this a typical story? In some ways, it is. Many private deals are made, only to have them fail due to a buyer who cannot or is unwilling to get the financing. Prequalifying a potential buyer is crucial, which is something we do on a regular basis. The legal ramifications of a poorly written contract gone bad could lead to lawsuits that would make your head and your bank account spin. Is it worth it for you to take that risk on your own?

In our case, it surely wasn’t.

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