Ken is a retired entrepreneur. He is married with two adult children and nine grandchildren. He loves traveling and any beach that has sand.
There has never been a better time than now to sell your home
There is nothing tepid about the housing market in the metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky area, nothing indeed!
In 2007, my wife and I had this custom-built home constructed with the thought of living there for the rest of our lives. By most modern standards, there was nothing special about the size or layout of the home.
It was a tad over 2,300 sq. ft. on the main floor, with another 2,200 sq. ft. finished in the walk-out basement. The house has four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. There is a 10x11 utility room, plus a combined furnace/storage room, but it was less than 100 sq. ft.
With an open concept on the main floor and a wide-open basement entertainment area, we were all set to make this our last home. For us, it was perfect!
Many family gatherings happened in our basement.
Over the years, we have thrown quite a few parties in our home. We held Christmas celebrations with both sides of the family each year. Both sides were quite large if everyone came to the party. Her side totaled 37 bodies, while my side totaled 61. We would entertain her side of the family on Christmas Eve, then straighten everything up again to have my side of the family on Christmas Day.
That was for Christmas. But, there were other events we hosted as well. Each year, on the first Saturday in May, the famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs. It became a tradition of ours to host a Derby party every year. We continued that tradition in this house and looked forward to partying with our family and friends that day.
The races on Derby Day always start at 11:00 a.m., way too early to start the party for us, so we would normally invite everyone to come between 1:00 and 2:00. They were also asked to bring a dish to share with everyone and they were always required to B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Booze).
Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to allow our guests to place bets on their preferred horse in each of the races. Once everyone was in attendance that meant they were able to bet on at least 7, sometimes 8 races throughout the day.
As a horse racing aficionado, I basked in the pleasure of holding these parties. My wife and I both looked forward to it each year. It was one of the few chances where we had time to visit with our friends and catch up on all the goings-on with our siblings’ sons and daughters.
All of that has suddenly changed for us!
Last year’s Derby party and this year’s party were canceled due to COVID-19. But that was only one reason for the sudden changes we are undergoing.
In early Spring, my son and daughter, who both happen to live on either side of us, told us their houses were too small for their growing teenagers and the number of bedrooms was lacking in both their houses. They began talking to us about building in a new subdivision being developed.
At first, we were both against the idea! After all, we have made so many wonderful memories in our current home, we loved the layout and there were no maintenance issues. Still, our kids persisted, and we eventually started looking at new house plans with updated features included in them.
Then, in June, another development forced our hand. We had neighbors who found out we might be moving. They, in turn, told their relatives what might occur, and everything has been a blur ever since.
It turns out our neighbor’s brother has a large family, and they wanted to view the inside of our home. With very little prep time between finding out about their interest and trying to straighten up the house for a showing, there was someone ringing our doorbell.
We answered the door and there stood the neighbor’s brother and six or seven other family members. They were very polite, removed their shoes on entering, and immediately swarmed our home. They went everywhere! One or two of them went out on our front porch, while another one or two went out onto our enclosed back porch.
The others mingled around the main floor’s bedrooms and bathrooms. They seemed amazed by our open floor plan. When they had seen each of the rooms on the main floor, I invited them into the basement. It, too, has an open floor plan and they were overjoyed with the size as well.
Standing in the basement, my neighbor had walked over to examine the layout. He and his brother spoke with one another for three or four minutes, then the brother looked at me and said, “How much?”
We had no clue they would make us an offer right there on the spot. We hadn’t even discussed listing the house with anyone. We didn’t know what our house was worth either. We had nothing to go on. So, I stalled for time, trying to collect my thoughts as to how to proceed with this conversation.
I replied, “I dunno,” hoping it would give them a reason to throw a number my way. Just then, my son-in-law walked in, wondering what all the commotion was about. I quickly filled him in on what had just transpired. He advised me to get an appraisal before we start negotiating.
I eagerly agreed with him and the potential buyer agreed to wait for my appraisal. He also told us how to reach him when we were ready to talk price. As everyone was walking back up the stairs to the main floor, the potential buyer looked at me and said, “Your basement is larger than the entire house I live in right now.”
No wonder he was happy about the size of our home. If he bought it, he could be neighbors with his brother, and their children could play together. He would also have enough bedrooms for everyone in his family to have their own personal space.
The biggest downfall to this situation, from our viewpoint anyway, was the fact we wouldn’t have a place to live anymore. In our area, apartments or rental homes are few and far between that could accommodate our needs.
I mentioned needing to get an appraisal to my son-in-law and he reached out to a realtor friend of his to ask for recommendations. It turned out his realtor referred him to someone who could come out within a couple of days to give us an appraisal. In today’s market, that is unheard of to get access to an appraiser that quickly.
Plenty of play room for the grandkids.
The appraiser came and did her thing two days later, which was a Thursday. She told us she’d have the results by Monday or Tuesday of the next week and said she would also email the appraisals to us. She performed her duties very well. She was very prompt with her work and explained in great detail how she arrived at the amount of the appraisal. Now, we had something to go on, finally. But, we still had that “where do we live” dilemma staring us in the face. Suddenly, a possible solution came to me.
“Hey, I have an idea,” I said to my wife.
“What,” she asked.
“Why don’t we put a clause in the sales agreement that says the buyer has to agree to allow us to continue living here until our new house is ready?”
Neither of us was looking forward to moving, much less going out shopping for new appliances, window coverings, flooring, paint colors, and everything else involved in furnishing a new home. I knew we needed some type of incentive to offer the buyer to make it worth his while to wait, so I offered this as a solution:
“We could pay him a monthly rent to continue living here. That way, we only have to move once,” I told her. “We could make the sale of the house contingent on him letting us stay.”
That seemed reasonable to us, so we asked our son-in-law to check with his realtor friend again, to make sure it was a workable solution. The realtor concurred. We negotiated a lower commission rate to have him represent us since we had already lined up the buyer. The realtor agreed! The buyer had wanted us to negotiate directly with him, without consulting a realtor. But, that’s not how we have done business in the past, and we didn’t see the need to start a new precedent. Besides, we wanted to make sure the agreement was iron-clad. The last thing we wanted was for things to fall through because we forgot this or that.
The realtor approached the buyer with our asking price, but the buyer declined it and made a counter-offer. We then countered his offer, trying to reach an equal balance for both parties. He called our realtor with another offer but had to raise it because he was about to offer us a third amount that was below our appraisal amount.
Finally, after the third try, our realtor asked for our absolute lowest number. We told him our price, and also told him to tell the buyer we wouldn’t be making any further concessions.
Amazingly, the buyer accepted our final terms. We closed on the sale of our house two weeks later. In today’s market, it seems it’s a standard operating procedure to have financing approved prior to the purchase of the house. Lucky for us, the sale price was much higher than what we would have originally sold the house if we hadn’t had an appraisal. For our sake, the realtor was a true asset in the sale of our home. It kept us from having to worry, and fret needlessly.
Our new home is only half-constructed right now. It turns out there’s a 16-week waiting period for the windows to be installed. The timeframe for that is just about up. Once the windows are installed, the bricklayers can get started, then the flooring can be put in place, right after the inside is painted.
Moving is always a frustrating process for us. It is inevitable that something will go wrong, or there will be a delay of materials that are outside our builder’s control. That’s just the way things are these days. Honestly, for my part, I won’t mind if that happens. It just means we get to continue living in this wonderful home we built that we no longer own.
Thanks for reading this!