It’s not worth as much as you think

My husband watches something called Storage Wars. The premise of the show: junk dealers try to win the contents of storage units after only a quick glance inside. If they spot something worth their while, the bidding soars. Sometimes they get the bad news: “It’s not worth as much as you think.”

My husband felt certain the shop he lovingly constructed made our property worth more money than other similar residences. After all, those four walls housed his precious 65 Mustang through its years of restoration. All his friends are jealous that he has an automotive man cave.

I didn’t argue with him too much when we listed the house a year ago. I was certain the house was over-priced. Did I think he wanted $50,000 more than it was worth? No.

After getting no activity for a couple months, we reduced our price by $20,000. We saw a few more calls and a spattering of interested people came to view it. No offers. No serious inquiries.

When we decided to list with a realtor, I knew she would want us to reduce the price. I figured she would want us to drop it another $20,000. This would stretch us. We hoped to net a certain amount when we sold it. After all, we have to buy another house.

She laid out the stack of comparable houses – those still listed for sale and three which had sold in the past six months. The prices? Nowhere near what we had been asking. One of them sold for more than $100,000 less than our asking price. But it didn’t have a shop.

None of them had a shop. Most of them didn’t have custom built kitchens. Apparently, these features we expected to add value to our home – don’t. They aren’t worthless. They might push someone on the fence about two properties in our direction.

“That one has the shop,” he says.

“The cabinetry and layout in that kitchen are perfect,” she says.

My Perch in the Kitchen
My Perch in the Kitchen

All the realtor said was that we should consider listing our house for almost $60,000 less than what we had been asking. My jaw dropped. My husband turned three shades of pale.

This isn’t the news we wanted to hear.

In fact, we need to reconsider our plans for the next house. If we sell our place at full price, we will be lucky to walk away with $60,000.  Obviously, that custom built floor plan my husband wants is probably not going to happen.

Unless I sell a book that tops charts worldwide and scoop up a windfall of cash. Or a rich relative dies and leaves us something in the six-figure range. All nice dreams, but we have to live in the real world.

We didn’t list the house for the optimal figure our realtor suggested. My husband couldn’t bring himself to accept the finality of it. Instead, the place we’ve called home for the past seventeen years is listed for $10,000 less than the figure I had envisioned – about $35,000 lower than what we had on our flyers for the past nine months.

Just because you’ve constructed a lifetime of memories within the walls and maintained the house with loving care, don’t get your hopes up. That house: it’s not worth as much as you think – at least in terms of dollars and cents.

3 thoughts on “It’s not worth as much as you think”

  1. Oh boy, can I relate!

    We bought our last house at the height of the market in 2008 and a couple months later it crashed. There we were, suddenly left holding a house worth about $50k less than we’d just paid for it (not counting the $15k of improvements we’d put in immediately after buying it).

    When we sold it last year, the market had rebounded some, but we still had to PAY $4,000 to get out of it. We had hoped we’d at least break even. So much for that. We’re very lucky we’d planned to rent and only needed deposit money. We would have never been able to buy another house otherwise (unless we had the same kind of luck you’re hoping for).

    I have to admit, that whole experience soured us on home ownership. Maybe some day, but not in the near future.

    I’m sending all kinds of good home-sale thoughts your way!

    1. Kelly-
      We keep hearing how the economy is coming back and all that, but he truth is in the numbers. Right now it is supposed to be a buyer’s market, but we can’t turn around and buy anything like what we’re selling for the price we are selling it at. Craziness.
      I would be happy to rent if we could find a place where the rent wasn’t outrageous. There are hardly any houses for rent in our community because people can’t afford to buy, but they want to live in a house rather than an apartment.
      I’m sure the right buyer will come along. Or I’m formulating a plan to add a master bedroom to our lower floor and make the great room into the kitchen/dining/living area I want. What’s a second mortgage right? Let my kids worry about paying it off when I’m dead.

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