We sold our house!

June has arrived and it’s glorious! The sunshine and warmer weather make living in Oregon wonderful this time of year. October is better, but June is a damn fine month here in Portland: wild roses, blackberry blossoms, and strawberries; birds, squirrels, and bicyclists; outdoor dining, evening strolls, and morning coffee on the porch.

I’ve been in a great mood for the past week, and it’s not just because of the weather. It’s also because, after three months of hard work, Kim and I have sold our country cottage. We’re not sure what the future holds, but for now we’re renting a small place in the Lake Grove neighborhood. It’s fun!

And now that all of that work is finished, I can turn my attention to other things — such as writing about money. To kick things off, here’s the story of what I’ve been up to for the past few months, of how we sold our house in this crazy real-estate market.

Background Information

When we bought our house in June 2017, I paid $442,000. The previous owners had listed the place at $450,000, but our home inspection revealed a lot of issues, so we asked for concessions. They weren’t willing to move much, dropping the price only $8000. We bought it anyhow.

During the next three years, we did our best to address (nearly) every problem from the inspection report. I spent $157,000 on repairs and upgrades — far more than the $8000 in concessions that the sellers had granted us. Thus, my “cost basis” for the house was $599,000 (and Kim spent an additional $14,000 on the place).

In prepping our home for market, Kim, Andi (our real-estate agent), and I had some long talks about pricing. Andi called our place a “quirky”. She said it was a “unicorn” with very few comparable properties from which to gauge pricing. I realized that even though I’d spent $157,000 on remodeling, I was unlikely to recoup the bulk of that. I thought we should list the place at $550,000. Andi and Kim thought $550,000 was too low.

Ultimately, our listing went live at $580,000 on the evening of Thursday, April 15th.

Three Offers

By noon the next day, we had an offer: $595,000 with the home in AS-IS condition. The catch? The offer expired within 24 hours.

“I think we should take it,” I said.

“No,” said Kim. Andi said the same thing.

“The buyer is trying to prevent you from holding the open house this weekend,” Andi said. “I know it seems tempting, but I think you’ll get additional offers — for more money! — if you let the open house proceed.”

So, that’s what we did.

Kim and I spent Saturday and Sunday driving around northwest Oregon, exploring all of the small towns. We tried to picture ourselves living in each place we visited. Some, we could. Others, we couldn’t. Meanwhile, strangers streamed through our home.

“What’s the news?” we asked Andi on Sunday night.

“Well, feedback is about what we expected,” she said. “People think this is a quirky house. But they also love the yard. I think you’ll have two or three offers by tomorrow evening.”

Sure enough. By Monday at five, we had two offers, both with escalation clauses. (Plus, the first offer asked us to keep him in the loop.) One offer topped out at $620,000. The other topped out at $621,000 (and would have gone as high as $628,500). After some debate, we decided to accept the offer for $620,000.

Then the waiting, uncertainty, and stress kicked into high gear.

SO MUCH WAITING!

When we bought our house, the inspection report had been pretty bad. It almost scared us off — but not quite. We decided we were willing to take on the house as a project. We bought it with the knowledge that there’d be a lot of work to do. We were okay with that. What we weren’t okay with was the fact that the previous owners had clearly tried to hide some problems from us — problems the inspection report failed to find.

As a result, we vowed to take the opposite approach when selling the house. We tried our best to share everything we knew, both the good stuff and the bad. (That includes sharing all of my blog posts and videos on the subject!) Yes, all home-sellers are required to make mandatory disclosures. We did that, but we tried to share more too.

We were pleased to see that the buyers were even more thorough about inspections than we had been. Their well inspection was more comprehensive than ours had been. Their septic inspection was more detailed than ours was. And while we were not present during the actual home inspection — and we never saw a copy of the final report — we were told that the inspector found several other issues that we had been completely unaware of.

“There’s more rot under the house,” Andi said. “It’s not just under the bathroom. There’s rot under another wall. Plus, the inspector feels that your new carport is causing structural issues. It needs to come down.”

“Wow,” I said, my stomach sinking. “I had no idea.” We’d spent a lot of money to build that carport. It had never occurred to me that it might actually be damaging the house itself.

The buyers’ inspections took place during the last week of April. Their inspection deadline was May 4th (Star Wars day!) but because they found so many issues, they asked for an extension to May 7th so that they could have contractors assess the work they’d need to do.

All of this made sense, obviously, and the rational part of me was pleased that the buyers were being so diligent. If they proceeded with the sale, they’d know what they were taking on. But the irrational part of me — the emotional side — was a nervous wreck. It was eighteen days from the time we accepted their offer until the inspection deadline expired. That’a a lot of waiting and a lot of uncertainty! I’m not good with uncertainty.

The Decision

The day before the inspection deadline ended, we received the buyers’ revised purchase agreement. Based on all of the problems they’d uncovered, they were dropping their offer from $620,000 to $580,000 and they wanted us to cover $13,000 of their closing costs. Their net offer was $567,000.

“They’re asking for $53,000 in concessions,” Andi said. “That’s a lot. You’ll have to decide if it’s too much for you. Remember, the backup offer is still good at $621,000. They’re still interested. But I want you to consider this. At this point, these buyers know more about your house than you do and they still want to buy it. That’s good news.”

We agreed. It was good news. But we also agreed that $53,000 was a lot to give up. Kim and I spent the evening sipping beer at a local pub, trying to decide what to do. Accept the offer in hand? Go to the backup buyer? Something else?

“Here’s the thing,” I said after we’d talked it out for the billionth time. “I originally thought we should ask $550,000. $567,000 is still more than that. And after I heard how lousy the inspection was, I’d decided I could take $565,000. That’s almost exactly what they’re offering now. I know we put a lot of work into this house, and I know that you love it here, but I think we should go through with it.”

“You don’t even want to counter?” Kim asked.

“No,” I said. “I want the buyers to be happy with this deal. I want them to have room to make the repairs they need. We weren’t able to get everything done that we wanted to. Maybe they can.”

In the end, we agreed to the buyers’ terms. It felt like the right thing to do. And we truly do hope that this allows them to finish making repairs on the house so that it’s in great shape for years to come.

Renting Like College Kids

While the process of selling the house caused me consternation, Kim was completely unfazed. “You’re worrying about nothing,” she told me several times. What worried her was finding a temporary place to rent. She was afraid we’d be unable to find a place that’d take all four of our beasts.

I’ll admit: My initial research had me worried too. There were lots of places that would rent to you if you had a dog or two cats, but none of the listings I saw allowed three cats and a pup.

Fortunately, Kim managed to find one listing that seemed perfect: a small (1000-square-foot) home on about a quarter acre in the middle of the city! We visited the place at the end of March, but that was well before we knew what our future held. We weren’t ready to commit. When we re-contacted the landlord at the end of April, she had good news. The place was still available, if we wanted it. We wanted it.

Despite agreeing to terms with the buyers, I still felt stressed about selling the house. In fact, I was so stressed that on Sunday, May 9th, Kim ordered me out. I’m not joking. “I think we’d both be happier if you spent the night over at the rental,” she said. So I did. In fact, I moved over and never moved back.

For one week, Kim and I lived semi-separate lives. She stayed at the house we were selling; I stayed at the rental, spending my nights on the floor in a sleeping bag. During the days, she continued with her normal life. I began to slowly move our stuff to the new place. We ate dinner together, but that was it.

Then, on the weekend of May 15th, Kim and I recruited a friend to help us move all of the big stuff out of the house and over to the rental (and/or storage). Once we had things mostly arranged, we brought the animals over to their new home. They hated it at first, but they love it now.

For the past two weeks, Kim and I have felt like we’re college kids. It’s weird. This house feels like the sort of place where we might have lived when we were in school. Plus, we both know it’s a temporary stop. It’s a transitional home while we decide where we want to live long-term.

But you know what? We like it. Sure, the place is small but it’s homey. The animals have found their groove. The neighbors are nice. We’re once again within walking distance of everything. And it’s liberating to not be responsible for anything.

This very moment, for instance, a repairman is here to fix a leak in the fridge. I told our landlord we had an issue, and she took care of everything else. (“Holy shit,” the repairman said when he got here. “I haven’t seen a model like this in a decade. Maybe longer. This fridge is from the 1960s.”)

And did I mention we have peacocks? For whatever reason, a flock of 30+ peacocks roams this neighborhood. They’ve been here for decades. Our next-door neighbor has lived here for thirty years. She says the peacocks had been around for more than twenty years when she moved in, so they’ve probably been here for fifty years or more. It’s fun. (And very, very noisy. “Kee-yah! Kee-yah! Kee-yah!”)

Next Steps

Despite my fretting and fussing, the sale of our home mostly went by the numbers. The deal closed last Monday, and the proceeds hit my account on Tuesday. Last Friday at noon, we turned the keys over to the buyers. We are no longer homeowners.

Now it’s time to figure out what comes next.

Kim and I still think we want to move to a small town, probably in Oregon or Washington, probably near the water. But more and more, we’re not sure. After three weeks of living in a walkable neighborhood again, I’m reminded of just how much I love this lifestyle. I’m energized and happy when I can walk to accomplish nearly all of my errands. It brings me joy.

“What we really need,” Kim said the other day, “is a newer home in a small town with a large lot that’s still within walking distance of grocery stores and restaurants. Is that too much to ask?” We both laughed because we know that it is too much to ask.

“What we need,” I said, “is to buy Lorelai’s house in Stars Hollow.”

“Yes,” Kim said. She knew exactly what I meant.

While there’s no doubt that I’ve been browsing Zillow obsessively, it’s more to get a feel for what’s out there than with any kind of seriousness. Kim and I need to get some clarity about where we want to live and what we need/want in a home before we begin searching in earnest.

Our first step, I think, is to research a possible mortgage. I’ve purchased my last two homes with cash. I don’t want to do that this time, if we can help it. I want to use leverage, and I want to take advantage of low interest rates. To that end, I’ll be contacting mortgage brokers later this week. We’ll see what sort of home we can actually afford.

And, of course, now that all of the chaos is over, I can resume other aspects of my daily life — such as writing here at Get Rich Slowly. Yay!

For the numbers nerds, here are some final stats.

I paid $442,000 for the house in June 2017. Quicken says that I spent $157,000 on upgrades during the four years we owned it, for a “cost basis” of $599,000.

We sold the house for $580,000 less $13,000 in closing costs, for a net of $567,000. After fees, etc., I received $534,000. From that, I gave Kim back the $14,000 that she had put into the house. So, my net proceeds were $520,000.

That’s a loss of $79,000, which makes me sad.

But look at this math! If we had stayed in the condo in Portland, we’d have continued to pay about $600/month in HOA fees. That’s roughly $29,000 over the past four years. Plus, the entire complex was hit with a special assessment for plumbing repairs. That would have cost us $50,000. Holy cats! So, that’s $79,000 we’d have lost if we’d stayed.

Weird, huh?

And one final way to look at things: If you divide that $79,000 loss by 47 months, you get $1680. One way to look at it is that I just spent $1680/month to rent a country cottage for a few years. That’s not so bad, is it?

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There are 44 comments to "We sold our house!".

  1. Liz says 01 June 2021 at 15:29

    I too have see-sawed back and forth between not-so-desirable rentals and home purchases in the last 30 years. I have noticed when I rent I am happier and thinner, and actually spend less on housing than when I own. When I own, I usually get fatter and more cranky:( Finally I landed in a brand new brick house in a very good location that I paid cash for, and it seems to be the happy medium so far! Best to you JD!

  2. Lake Grove peacocks!! says 01 June 2021 at 19:11

    I lived in Lake Grove, probably near where you are now, and I can attest that those peacocks were there back in 1980! It’s delightful to hear about them again and to know they’ve outlived development, mean children, and the occasional person who would shoot one when I was little. Somewhere I might still have a peacock feather that I found on the street in my childhood. I wish I knew what street you’re on! So nostalgic. I was on Inverurie.

    I hope you take all the time you need to decide what’s next. You deserve contentment and happiness and not losing money on another move!

  3. One Frugal Girl says 01 June 2021 at 21:57

    I love that you wanted the new owners to understand what they were getting into and that you knew the repairs would cost a lot. Faced with a similar predicament I think I would’ve done the same. It’s better to leave feeling good about the deal then feeling like someone is getting sacked with a money pit so you can make a few extra bucks. Congratulations on selling and moving on to new adventures!

    • Kamran says 09 June 2021 at 07:31

      Lol, the sellers of our house had no qualms with leaving us with unreported issues and DIY “specials” I’ve had to deal with. It isn’t outright terrible but knowing everything I know now about how much work and month it takes to fix things, I would have asked for way more concessions.
      Been tracking the money spent and have done all the remodeling myself so far (with inspections and permits). Hopefully it will work out in our favor down the road when we sell.

  4. J. Money says 02 June 2021 at 03:48

    Way to get it done!!! Not easy in this “Owning is the American Dream” world!! Here’s to mental freedom!!

  5. DJ says 02 June 2021 at 04:16

    Very glad you are back – missed the regular postings and great information you share. Congratulations on your move! DJ

  6. MSB says 02 June 2021 at 08:14

    I’ve been very much looking forward to this post–thank you. You’ve done a great job showing the ins and outs of your sale and combatting the misconception that everybody who sells their house now will make a fortune. Can you talk some about real estate broker commissions? This is one area I just can’t get my brain around, specifically how their work might be worth a 4-6% commission, and what you’re getting for that money.

  7. FoxTesla says 02 June 2021 at 09:01

    Congrats on the sale!
    Upgrade-wise, how much of the $157k was spent on “have-to”, aka foundation/rot/roof/etc. and how much was spent on “like-to” aka carport/hot tub/shed/etc.
    The other big $ swing you didn’t mention is insurance cost – I’m imagining your renter’s insurance premium is quite a bit less than your homeowner’s premium!

    • Lisa says 02 June 2021 at 10:53

      And to piggyback onto this question, how many of the “like-to” improvements contributed to higher offer (i.e., do you have a sense of $ ROI for like-to’s)?

    • J.D. says 02 June 2021 at 12:39

      This is a great question. Six weeks ago, I would have had the answer at my fingertips because I had a temporary spreadsheet created that tracked all of this info. But I didn’t save the spreadsheet, so I can’t give a firm answer. That said, my guess is that roughly half of the expenses were necessary and the other half were “like to” expenses. It’s close to that, I think.

  8. Star says 02 June 2021 at 09:33

    You are a good egg! I can’t think of many people who would be so open and honest about needed house repairs.

  9. rh says 02 June 2021 at 10:46

    Awesome! Your tone and delivery in this post sound so much happier and stress free! Seems like walkability is key for you!

  10. Ringo says 02 June 2021 at 10:46

    Congratulations on selling the house. Why not relax and enjoy the rental instead of sailing into another purchase?

    • J.D. says 02 June 2021 at 12:36

      Oh, we’re going to relax and enjoy. We’re in no rush. 🙂

  11. KAREN L says 02 June 2021 at 12:00

    So glad to see a post from you! I’ll admit that I was a little bit worried by the prolonged silence. I’m happy that you’ve removed this source of stress from your lives, and I wish you the best in eventually finding your perfect “forever home.”

    • J.D. says 02 June 2021 at 12:37

      I was just telling somebody this morning that I don’t believe in “forever homes”. That said, I would like to find a place that we stay in longer than four years haha. (We had the riverfront condo for four years, then the country cottage for four years.) Kim and I both want to be more deliberate about this next purchase than about our past homes together.

  12. jana miller says 02 June 2021 at 16:10

    Just visited McKinney Texas…it reminds me of Stars hollow 🙂

  13. Donna Freedman says 02 June 2021 at 16:14

    Glad it’s finalized! Now all you have to do is train Tally not to give those peacocks the bum’s rush. It might not end well.

  14. Tyler Karaszewski says 02 June 2021 at 17:11

    > a newer home in a small town with a large lot that’s still within walking distance of grocery stores and restaurants

    You could probably actually get this in Hood River. It might be expensive. I have all of this except “newer” in my house. It’s hard to get “newer” and “large lot” together unless an old house has been torn down and replaced. Prices keep rising though. Seems like you’re better off buying sooner than later.

  15. Lauren says 02 June 2021 at 20:58

    congratulations on selling your home! Some family friends live in Snohomish, WA and were telling me they walk into downtown to restaurants and to run errands—your idea of walkable small town seems very possible! I live in walkable urban area/suburb and agree, it’s the best!

  16. Eileen says 03 June 2021 at 09:22

    Thanks for the newsy updated JD! Best of luck going forward.
    We are close to retirement and have lived in our home in the burbs for 23 years. For a long time we thought we’d want to move to a rural place with property in the (NC) mountains. When we became empty nesters (and time became 100% our own), we realized how much we enjoy where we live, what’s nearby, what’s not too far, our neighborhood pool and friends, (it has an adult-only pool) and our home. A second home in the mtns would be lovely, but that’s not part of our plan for financial reasons. But we’ve realized we don’t want to be 20+ minutes from a place to grab a bite or a beer.
    Who knows what the future holds, but it’s nice to feel settled on what’s important, rather than what sounds good.
    Good luck! Take your time! 🙂

  17. Kristen says 03 June 2021 at 12:55

    Glad to hear from you again. I personally love being a homeowner, but I don’t necessarily believe in ‘forever’ homes, either. A home can be a lovely place to be, but it’s togetherness with loved ones that I value. I wish you luck in finding a wonderful place for you all to be together.

    • Kristen says 03 June 2021 at 13:11

      Oh! You might try looking at Redfin. I like their site better than Zillow…

  18. Treo says 03 June 2021 at 14:40

    I just sold my condo two weeks ago, it’s a liberating feeling and similarly to you JD, we don’t really know what’s next, but we’ll probably not buy anything for at least a few years. The market is insane right now and while it was nice to get 8 offers in just 3 days, all over asking and like in your case, with escalation riders, I can’t imagine being a buyer right now and making accurate, large scale decisions so quickly.
    Enjoy the renting for a while and explore different things, don’t get tied down again too quickly would be my recommendation.

    • Brooklyn Money says 09 June 2021 at 05:35

      Im waiting to go into contract on selling my condo (hopefully signing today) and I feel the same way. I’ve moved from the city to an urban/suburban suburb and I love it out here. I’m just in a one bedroom rental apt. and even though I’m tempted to buy a house this market is insane. I think I will wait. It’s weird though I’m waiting to see what my renewal rate is and am hoping its not much higher. JD, congrats on your sale!!!

  19. Andrew Ulvestad says 03 June 2021 at 16:52

    You write about money but you don’t consider the opportunity cost of your cash in your house? If you stayed in your condo, you could have invested the cash balance in the S&P 500 and earned a crazy return.

    • J.D. says 04 June 2021 at 09:17

      Sure, I consider opportunity cost. But I’m not sure how staying in the condo would have allowed me to invest any more in the stock market. I owned that home outright also, so the cash was tied up. There was no way to invest it.

      And as Kim and I move forward with our next house, this is actually one of my chief concerns. For my past two home purchases, I’ve been told (by bankers) that I cannot get a mortgage so I must pay cash for a house. That’s not what I want to do. I want to use leverage and take advantage of low interest rates. Reading online, others claim that this is indeed possible even when you’re retired and/or financially independent. So, we’re going to find out how to do that. In fact, that’s the very next step in this process: figure out how to qualify for a mortgage while F.I.

      • Sheila says 04 June 2021 at 10:17

        That is a great topic for an article, especially after you’ve gone through the process.

        • KAREN L says 05 June 2021 at 03:19

          Agree – I would be very interested in this article!

      • Joe says 09 June 2021 at 18:37

        Why don’t you just rent a nice place. Then you don’t have to deal with maintenance.

      • Dave says 18 June 2021 at 14:34

        Give this a read, it’s a few years back, but looks like Schwab may have an option:
        https://www.caniretireyet.com/getting-a-mortgage-when-you-have-assets-but-no-income/

        • J.D. says 18 June 2021 at 14:46

          Awesome. Thanks, Dave.

  20. Adam says 04 June 2021 at 11:24

    Congratulations all around! I’m impressed with your conscientiousness as a seller and your comprehensive look into what you seek in the next chapter. Thank you for the breakdown against condo expenses; there are so many money factors, even acknowledging financial independence and before emotions come into play.
    We’ve got a century-old home in a 18k-population city with a 6200 square foot lot walking distance of anything we could possibly want — wonderful neighbors to boot — and it is without a doubt the best place I’ve ever lived. The catch: it’s two miles outside Washington DC and surrounded by myriad other small towns. But that’s how we get easy public transportation to three international airports, a wealth of cultural options, and the most stable local economy in the nation. It works for us.

  21. Chris@TTL says 07 June 2021 at 09:21

    J.D., great to see you back around here with a post! 🙂 I’m really glad to hear the sale went through OK, and perhaps, more importantly, you’ve done it with integrity. Good job! A year or two from now you won’t look back and think “did they find X problem and has the house fallen on them, making them bankrupt?” A clear conscience has real value.
    So far as the next living situation—we decided to move to our current place with similar needs. We wanted a highly walkable location (museums, stores, groceries, event venues, parks, entertainment, etc.) in a fairly small (1250 sq. ft.) place in a not-too-big city with reasonable costs. We found it, and we’re happy. We pay a hefty HOA fee ($350) but most of that just flows back through to us since it covers our water and heating bills. There’s no outside management company (we run it ourselves with 16 neighbors), so the money is always just being spent on our common needs. It feels like a good compromise and I don’t have to worry about as many things going wrong while we’re away.
    Keep searching, and enjoy being in a flexible living situation while you are. Nothing wrong with that!

  22. David @ Filled With Money says 07 June 2021 at 20:04

    Thank you for being transparent with the numbers and the actual process of selling the house. I love reading personal experiences such as these.
    Now, there’s no more having to think about the maintenance costs and making sure that the house is in tip top shape every year! On to bigger and better things!

  23. JT says 08 June 2021 at 13:34

    The Portland metro market is crazy. I remembered buying my starter home in Hillsboro (near Portland) for $270k in 2015. Now it is going for almost $500k according to zillow.House is getting really small with kids but upgrading to a bigger one would cost me at least $800k in the same area.
    Thanks to being influenced by FIRE, there is no mortgage on my tiny starter home and I am reluctant to get back into debt so I guess I am stuck in my starter for life.

  24. Jennifer says 09 June 2021 at 07:26

    Doesn’t everyone want to live in Stars Hollow 😉

  25. Quest says 14 June 2021 at 14:15

    So happy that things are working out for you JD. Perhaps the older we get, the less responsibility we want and that goes for home ownership too. Renting is a good idea, taking out a mortgage on the next place when/if is a good plan as well. Why tie up such a big chunk of money? I won’t do that again. Good luck as always!

  26. Anne says 15 June 2021 at 07:41

    You mention you would like to live in a great little town, on a large lot with a newish house. Have you considered finding the town, and the lot, then building yourself? The house would be brand new.

  27. Adrian says 20 June 2021 at 18:34

    You’re a really good person. So many sellers are openly price gouging right now. Thanks for being a steadily ethical presence in this space.

  28. headedwest says 04 July 2021 at 13:25

    Congratulations on your next step. We just drove all the way through Oregon down I-5 and back again on a family road trip. The scenery is so nice. Hopefully fire season won’t be as hard on the state as last year.

  29. Andrea L says 09 July 2021 at 22:28

    Fun fact: Lorelei’s house is also the Walton’s house.

  30. Nic says 24 May 2024 at 12:51

    So would you have come out ahead if you had taken the $595k offer in “as-is” condition? In hindsight do you regret not taking that offer or do you feel that the decision you made was the right one with the information that you had?

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