‘I Wasn’t Looking to Sell My Home, But for the Right Price…’

Francis, a Seattle homeowner, shares what it was like to sell a house without putting it on the market. As told to Jamie Birdwell-Branson.

Shortly after moving into my Seattle house in 2015, I listed it on Zillow’s for-sale-by-owner pre-market feature, Make Me Move. I got everything organized and listed my home for $100,000 more than what I had just paid.

I thought my home had a lot to offer. I played up the lot, which was giant for Seattle at about 8,000 square feet. The house was also in a really picturesque neighborhood with a great location. The real selling point of the house, though, was the excellent public school district, which I thought would speak to young families.

I knew that I wasn’t going to sell the house right away, because I didn’t want to pay a capital gains tax, which you incur if you sell your primary residence before you’ve lived in it for two years. Knowing this, I just wanted to feel out the interest in the neighborhood and the house – just to keep a pulse on the market. If I got a wild offer, however, I figured I’d take the 15-percent capital gains hit, even knowing that it would be more complicated to deal with than just waiting the two years.

A couple of months went by without anyone approaching me, but a few potential buyers and agents slowly started to reach out. Once the buyers started to throw serious offers my way, I thought I might need to raise my price, because I wanted to avoid selling it under the two-year mark. Eventually, I did increase the price, because I was getting too much interest. To help me determine a better price, I looked at the comps to know if I was under or over the appropriate value of the home.

Showing the home

Out of the 20 or so hits I got over the two-year period, I showed the house to seven people. When they wanted to check it out, I set up a time for them to walk around the house for 20 minutes. During the showings, I spoke very frankly about the home’s condition. And I didn’t feel the need to give a hard sell, because I had the benefit of not being in a rush to move. I could have gone either way between, “Oh yeah, I can stay here,” or “I’ll take the offer.”

I ended up with a cash offer, but it wasn’t enough. I got another cash offer that was pretty high, but then a couple whose friends lived on the street approached me with an even better offer. We sealed the deal on the condition that closing day would be after that official two-year mark so I could avoid the capital gains tax.

This was a pretty easy decision to make, because I knew I could buy my sister’s condo. That was really the deciding factor: I knew I could take the cash offer and buy a condo at a good price, without competing in the market with everyone else. At some point, you have to say to yourself, “OK, this is enough money to feel comfortable and happy moving from this investment to another one.”

The process

In comparison to a traditional real estate transaction, the Make Me Move experience was surprisingly straightforward. If you’re not in a big rush and you find a buyer that’s willing to work with you, drawing up a contract is relatively easy. If you’re hesitant to do it alone, don’t let the paperwork intimidate you, because it’s all boilerplate and very sensible. If you’ve gone through buying a house once, you can handle the paperwork without any issues.

Listing your home pre-market is a great way to test the market and buy or sell in a low-pressure way – and potentially save money.

The best thing about selling a house on your own is that everyone can just be honest about their expectations – whether it’s the buyer or the seller. For the buyer, it’s more transparent if the seller is serious. And then you can say, “OK, can I afford this? And is that what I want for that price?” versus just going into a blind bidding situation.

For the seller, you’re not on any hard timeline, and you don’t have to stage a house or lose money on a mortgage for a house that’s just sitting there. You can plan the logistics a little better when it’s all on your terms.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/got-an-offer-on-my-home-216774/

Hidden Costs of Homeownership Typically Top $9,000 a Year

Buyers too often focus on a home’s list price or mortgage payment to determine what they can afford. However, the numerous less-obvious costs associated with homeownership can affect the monthly bottom line.

To help home buyers budget more accurately, Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common but often overlooked home expenses and calculated what homeowners around the country could expect to pay for them. The analysis also included utility cost estimates from UtilityScore.

While each extra expense might seem small, they cost U.S. homeowners, on average, $9,080 a year, according to the report.

Unavoidable costs

Nationally, homeowners pay an average of $6,059 a year in unavoidable costs, which include homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities. Since nearly half (47 percent) of home shoppers today are first-time buyers, many of these extra costs may come as a surprise.

San Francisco homeowners pay the most of the metros analyzed ($13,019 on average), primarily due to the market’s high home values and property taxes. Indianapolis homeowners pay the least ($4,699).

Maintenance expenses

Nearly all homeowners (96 percent) have made some kind of improvement to their homes, according to the 2016 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. While many complete these projects themselves, those who pay professionals can expect to spend an average of $3,021 for the six most common hired home projects requested by Thumbtack users: carpet cleaning, yard work, gutter cleaning, HVAC maintenance, house cleaning and pressure washing.

Labor costs can vary significantly by region, with Seattle homeowners paying as much as $4,052 a year on average for those six projects, while San Antonio homeowners pay an average of $1,962.

Budget planning

More than a third of buyers go over budget on a home purchase. To help buyers better understand the total cost of homeownership, Zillow Group launched RealEstate.com, a website that allows people to search by the “All-In Monthly Price” of owning that home. In addition to the mortgage, the price includes estimated property taxes, insurance, PMI, utilities, taxes, HOA fees and closing costs.

Curious how much these hidden homeownership costs are in your area? Here’s a breakdown of the metros analyzed in the report:


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/hidden-costs-of-homeownership-2017-219659/

Meg Ryan Will No Longer Be Sleeping in Soho

Photo: ShutterStock

UPDATE: After five months on the market, Meg Ryan’s Soho loft has found a willing buyer. The acclaimed actress sold the home for $1.05 million less than her original ask, but unloading for $9.85 million means she can move on to her next project. Ryan admits she is a serial renovator, and if her history holds, it won’t be long before she “Meg-anizes” another spot.

ORIGINAL POST 2/16/17: Rom-com darling Meg Ryan just put a $10.9-million price tag on a SoHo loft she recently featured in Architectural Digest.

The home’s 4,100 square feet are structured for comfort: When you’ve got mail, you can kick back and read it in the high-ceilinged, light-filled living room. When you’re sleepless in SoHo, there’s a black-and-white bathroom with penny tiles and a luxurious tub perfect for a long soak. When Harry meets Sally, there’s a kitchen with a table for recreating everyone’s favorite scene.

It’s an apartment with classic lines, from the long, windowed hallway that invites light — but not sound — into the living spaces, to the glass walls and French doors that create a private space for the formal dining room. The listing is with Barbara Hochhauser of Corcoran Group Real Estate.

Photos by Evan Joseph

Ryan bought the home from “The Simpsons” actor Hank Azaria in 2013 and renovated it, adding ebonized wood floors and black lacquered cabinets, The Wall Street Journal reports. The apartment spans the fifth floor of a building constructed in the 1880s, and has 2 bedrooms plus a sleeping area with French doors.

Ryan, who last year directed and starred in the movie “Ithaca,” is an antiques collector. Above that long table in the kitchen hang two industrial lamps from a salvage shop in Maine. They complement exposed pipes on the ceiling, which add to the home’s factory-meets-elegance vibe. The kitchen boasts a double range, two stainless steel refrigerators and a windowed pantry.

A master bedroom with an exposed brick wall and eight closets contribute to the industrial chic aesthetic, as do seven architectural columns, transom windows and 12-foot ceilings.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/meg-ryan-lists-soho-loft-212149/

‘Game of Thrones’ Queen Lena Headey Lists LA Home for $1.9M

Fresh off her show’s much-anticipated return for Season 7, “Game of Thrones” actress Lena Headey is parting ways with her home in Sherman Oaks.

The 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom mid-century modern house is far from the castles of Westeros Cersei Lannister frequents in the popular HBO series. Reclaimed wood floors are laid out in a herringbone pattern, and the ceiling features prominent exposed wood beams in a charming rustic gray color.

Photos courtesy Todd Johnson of LA Light Photography.

The mid-century modern aesthetic carries throughout the 2,900-square-foot house, with a prominent gold chandelier hanging above the living room space.

Photo courtesy Todd Johnson of LA Light Photography.

An open kitchen features a mirrored backsplash and blue-and-white patterned tile, for a touch of SoCal life.

Photo courtesy Todd Johnson of LA Light Photography.

A child’s playroom opens up to the backyard, where lines of warm lights are strung above a saltwater pool.

Photo courtesy Todd Johnson of LA Light Photography.

And in case you’re wondering how Headey cared for the home’s environment when she’s spending every day on set: She’s installed a low-maintenance vertical garden of succulents and drought-tolerant landscaping, according to the listing.

Photo courtesy Todd Johnson of LA Light Photography.

No word on whether the home — currently listed at $1.945 million — also comes with a knight in shining armor.

Zoe Rudolph of the John Aaroe Group holds the listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/lena-headey-lists-la-home-219245/

6 Millennial Pink Homes Proving This Color Is Here to Stay

If you’ve never heard of Millennial Pink, don’t worry – you aren’t that out of the loop. Though the term was coined last year, it’s been popping up for years, and Pantone’s selection of Rose Quartz as one of its 2016 colors of the year was just a preview of the pink craze to come (yes, there’s a hashtag). Stars from Rihanna to Harry Styles have embraced light pink hues, though it’s more about the vibe than a distinct color, and its popularity goes beyond the 20-something crowd.

Millennial Pink has put rosy-colored homes on the map as well. While painting a house pink is nothing new – several historic, stucco and adobe homes sport the hue – it’s certainly on trend.

Check out these six homes for some Millennial Pink inspiration, and see what all the fuss is about.

Key West, FL

914 Grinnell St, Key West, FL
For sale: $1.43 million

Photo from Zillow listing.

Tropical color schemes are a trademark of Key West design and architecture, as embodied by this delightful revival-style duplex. Bright blue shutters pop against a pale pink exterior with white trim, while the interior bursts with cheerful, vibrant blues, yellows, greens, and – of course – more pink.

Find more homes for sale in Key West.

Montpelier, VT

24-26 Loomis St, Montpelier, VT
For sale: $1.8 million

Photo from Zillow listing.

A former mayor’s home, this restored Victorian is Millennial Pink inside and out. With a whimsical two-tone pink façade and a few light pink rooms in the interior, the bright paint choice is architecturally on point. “We often see a color similar on Victorian homes throughout Vermont,” explains listing agent David Parsons, “and I believe it has a historical precedence.” Because of an increase in the number of pigments available and a reduction in the cost of paint, brightly colored homes became de rigueur in Victorian New England.

Find more homes for sale in Montpelier.

Charleston, SC

18 State St, Charleston, SC 29401
For sale: $1.995 million

Photo from Zillow listing.

This historic home full of Southern charm proves that Millennial Pink is nothing new. Built around 1815, the current owners bought the pink house in 2004 and simply repainted it the same color since it worked so well. “There are many pink houses in Charleston, including one on Rainbow Row which is a block away,” explains listing agent Adam Edwards. “Pink is a longtime popular color because it helps keep the interiors cooler in the hot summer months.” Black shutters and white trim give the house an elegant, refined look.

Find more homes for sale in Charleston.

Seattle, WA

920 Federal Ave E, Seattle, WA
For sale: $1.598 million

Photo from Zillow listing.

For a prime example of a bold Millennial Pink, check out this 4-bedroom, 3,080-square-foot gem close to all the action in Seattle. The exterior is painted a solid shade of warm, earthy pink called “New Pilgrim Red” and is complemented with off-white woodwork in “Navajo White.” “We had seen that on another Colonial Revival house years ago when we were just about to repaint,” owners Clint and Elizabeth Miller recall. “It looked dramatic to us and suggested a New England sort of look.”

Find more homes for sale in Seattle.

Albuquerque, NM

1323 Narcisco Ct NE, Albuquerque, NM
For sale: $430,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Stucco exteriors are common in the Southwest because they’re durable and – most importantly, for a desert climate – energy efficient. This pink-hued home shows that stucco doesn’t have to be drab. Here, the pink provides a dose of personality while maintaining a neutral, earthy vibe that meshes with the landscape.

Find more homes for sale in Albuquerque.

New Orleans, LA

326 Warrington Dr, New Orleans, LA
For sale: $249,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

New Orleans is no stranger to colorful homes. In fact, this cute, single-story house is subdued in comparison to many in the Big Easy. But that’s part of its appeal – and of the appeal of Millennial Pink in general. It manages to straddle the divide between playful and refined, youthful and classic.

Find more homes for sale in New Orleans.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/millennial-pink-homes-219081/

‘Frasier’ Star Kelsey Grammer Says Farewell to Chelsea Home

Perhaps Frasier Crane is heading back to Seattle.

Kelsey Grammer, the six-time Emmy Award winner who portrayed psychiatrist Frasier Crane on the hit TV shows “Frasier” and “Cheers,” has sold his posh Manhattan pad for just under $8 million.

Photos courtesy CORE.

Grammer bought the 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom condo in the Chelsea neighborhood in 2010. The home offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, along with 11-foot ceilings. The living room has a fireplace, wet bar and wine fridge. Motorized shades help keep the place cool and west-facing windows frame dramatic sunsets.

Sunset from the home. Photo courtesy CORE.

The building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel and is noted for its dramatic, glassy exterior.

Grammer first put the 3,076-square-foot home on the market last year, asking $9.75 million.

No word on whether the place included a psychiatrist’s couch.

Emily Beare and Daniel Amell of Core carried the listing.



from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/kelsey-grammer-2-218963/

From ‘Sold’ to ‘For Sale’ and Back Again: The 4 Phases of Homeownership

You may live in your home for two years, or you may hunker down for two decades. But no matter how long you call it yours, you’ll likely experience these four key stages of homeownership – from the day you get your keys to the day you hand them off to your home’s new owner.

Read on to learn more about what to expect from each phase.

Phase 1: Excitement … and unpacking

The “sold” sign is posted, your belongings are packed, and the day finally arrives – you get the keys to your new home. You open the front door, and possibilities abound. How will you decorate? Where will that new couch go? Which rooms will the kids choose?

This first phase is all about unpacking, settling in, and getting to know your new home. If you’ve upsized from a smaller home, you may be tempted to jump in and start filling all that extra space.

And while you may be eager to make your mark on your new home’s interior (or exterior), Diana Bohn, a Seattle-based agent with Windermere Real Estate, warns against making extensive changes to a home right after moving in.

“It’s always good to be in your home for a year or so before knocking down any walls,” she explains. “Get your furniture in there, unpack, and see how the home lives. It’s hard to know how the space is going to feel until you’ve been there for a while. Go through all the seasons at least once.”

Phase 2: Home sweet home

It may take you a few months to move into the second phase – or even a few years (we won’t judge if you still have packed boxes gathering dust after a year or two). But this phase is when your house becomes a home, and you start enjoying your everyday life in the space.

You’ve figured out where all your belongings should go, you’ve done the bulk of your decorating, and you’re getting to know your neighbors and a few local hangouts. You’ve likely celebrated the holidays in your home a time or two, welcomed out-of-town guests, and gotten to know (and love?) your home’s unique quirks.

Phase 3: Project time

If the housing market continues its current upward trend, it’s likely that, after even a few years in your home, you’re sitting on some equity. So what should you do with it? Phase 3 is often the time when homeowners can take advantage of equity they’ve gained.

First, if you bought an older home, it may be time to update some of your home’s major systems – think furnace, roof, or windows. Portland, OR-based mortgage broker Lauren Green of Green Family Mortgage recommends researching two options for financing home improvements: home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and cash-out refinances.

“Many people have no idea they can access their home’s equity,” Green says. “They think the only way to take advantage of their home’s increased value is to sell it, but in reality, there are some great ways to access the equity in your home while still living in it.”

Second, after living in your home for a few years, you probably have a better idea of the renovations that would really make your home work for your lifestyle.

“There are lots of reasons why someone may decide to remodel instead of sell and look for a new home,” says Tyler Coke, project manager and business development manager at Marrone & Marrone, a custom home builder and remodeler in the Bay Area. “One thing that appeals to many homeowners is the custom aspect of it. You can design and create exactly the type of space that fits your lifestyle and speaks to how you use your home.”

Phase 4: Moving on

When will you know it’s time to move on? And what will prompt you to move somewhere new?

“Usually, it’s some kind of transition that causes people to sell,” says Bohn. “A new job, a growing family, or downsizing once the kids move out. In big cities, we’re also seeing people moving from more centrally located neighborhoods to farther-flung suburbs, where their money will get them more.”

Whatever your reason for putting your home on the market, the day you sign on the dotted line and close your front door for the last time is likely to be a bittersweet moment. But change can be good, and the next time you buy a home, you’ll be well-versed in all four phases and know just what you’re looking for.

Top photo from Zillow listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/4-phases-of-homeownership-217977/

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s Former Hollywood Hills Home Is for Sale

Photo: Shutterstock

The Southern California home that formerly belonged to the famous singer-and-model duo is on the market – but not for long (if we had to guess).

In 2014, after seven years of ownership, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen unloaded the property for just over asking, within weeks of putting it on the market.

Three years later, the current owner is asking $2.495 million for the celebrity pad; nearly half a million more than they paid.

That price tag nets you a 2,200-square foot, 3-bed, 3-bath home and a state-of-the-art recording studio. Plus, the mid-century modern gem was completely renovated by Legend and Teigen.

While John got a studio designed acoustically for low sound out of the renovation, we imagine food-fanatic Chrissy had a hand in the sleek kitchen with custom basalt counters, teak cabinets and Thermador appliances.

Photos by Adam Latham of Bel Air Photography

Hidden in a quiet cul-de-sac of Hollywood Hills, this home makes it hard to believe you’re still in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Inside the gated yard are tranquil Asian-inspired gardens, fountains and greenery.

With such a beautifully cultivated yard, it’s easy to see why the entire home is designed to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. Off the main living area, a sliding glass door leads directly to the backyard patio with a grill, several lounging areas and a tucked away hot tub. Similarly, the master suite contains two glass doors – one in the bedroom and another in the master bath, which leads to an outdoor soaking tub.

It’s hard to imagine this serene, luxury home lasting much longer than it did the last time it was on the market.

Heather Boyd of Hilton & Hyland holds the listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/john-legend-former-home-for-sale-218576/

Rehabbing a Home? Be Ready for These 5 Costs

So you want to calculate the price tag on a house rehab, but you have no construction background. How do you go about it?

Understandably, this is a common scenario that holds many people back from flipping houses. It’s also one of the most common questions people ask Tarek and me.

A rehab’s costs involve more than just what you pay your contractor, so ensure you consider them all by dividing them into five categories:

  • Costs of a rehab team
  • Costs of purchase
  • Costs of rehab
  • Costs of ownership
  • Costs of selling

Costs of a rehab team

Build your rehab team before you start a project. This gives you time to thoroughly screen each of your team members. The last thing you need is to hire the wrong home inspector or contractor because you were closing on a deal and crunched for time.

You want qualified people who understand your needs and investing as a business. If you’re wondering what your team should look like, here are the main players:

  • Attorney
  • Lenders
  • Real estate agent
  • Insurance agent
  • Contractor(s)
  • Home inspector

Ask other, more seasoned real estate investors for recommendations. It’s a good way to find solid, trustworthy team members, and most investors will be glad to recommend who they use.

The only possible exception to this is contractors. Good contractors can be hard to come by, and a real estate investor may not be willing to compete with you for their contractor’s time. So, you may be on your own.

If you find yourself in that situation, ask employees at your local lumberyard or hardware store for recommendations. You can also search sites like Craigslist or Angie’s List, but you’ll want to personally vet whomever you choose.

Once you assemble your team members, use their help to get more accurate rehab numbers. It could also be beneficial to enroll in a program for learning the ins and outs of real estate investment, like Success Path.

Costs of purchase

The biggest chunk of this category is probably the money you’ll pay to close on the property. But also included here is any expense you might have incurred while hiring your team members.

There are some other hidden costs here that you might not have thought of, such as flood certificates or various government fees. But in general, your main expenses will likely include the following:

  • Purchase price
  • Home inspection
  • Home appraisal
  • Surveys
  • Lender fees (your bank’s closing costs, appraisal fees, origination costs, etc.)
  • Attorney fees

Costs of rehab

This includes contractor fees, permits, and any work done on the house. It can be difficult to get an accurate number for this category, but there are a few things you can do to get close.

First, pay your contractor to do the walkthrough with you. Get their advice on things that need to be fixed or changed, and get a quote from them.

Or, find a home inspector with construction experience, then ask questions and listen to their input as they inspect the house.

You could also try partnering with another more experienced house flipper so they can teach you the tricks of the trade.

Costs of ownership

These expenses happen while you are in possession of the home. This is a common area overlooked by inexperienced house flippers, so make sure you account for these expenses:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Property insurance, including flood insurance, if necessary
  • Utilities
  • Yard upkeep

Costs of selling

It might seem like this category should be all profit. That may be true if you do the job right, but it’s still important to budget for the costs that come with selling a house, like the following:

  • Selling price
  • Real estate commission
  • Home warranty
  • Radon and lead tests, termite inspection, and other tests buyers sometimes request
  • Staging
  • Attorney fees

Get to work building your team today to get the best estimate possible for your house flipping project!


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/rehabbing-home-costs-217979/

Alyson Hannigan Lists Her Atlanta Penthouse for $1.395M

Before Alyson Hannigan was Willow Rosenberg on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or Lily Aldrin on “How I Met Your Mother,” she was an Atlantan. The now-famous actress was raised in the Atlanta area following her parents divorce during her early childhood.

The city must have made an impression on young Hannigan, because she went back and scooped up a local 3-bed, 3-bath penthouse in 2014. While the “American Pie” star and her husband, actor Alexis Denisof, only paid $810,000 for it at the time, the listing price is now a sweet $1.349 million.

Inside the nearly 2,500-square-foot unit, dark Brazilian hardwoods contrast nicely against crisp white walls and silver finishes. The real showstopper, however, is a wall of 14-foot windows in the living room that overlook the city.

In both the kitchen and bathrooms, you’ll find a predominately white color scheme, including the cabinets, subway tile, and fixtures. The one notable exception is the master bath’s dark brown cabinets and a similarly shaded countertop.

Photos courtesy of Rea Kelly of Atlanta Fine Homes.

Panoramic skyline views are also available from private terraces that jut off the the living room and at least two of the bedrooms — allowing you to take in all the different angles of the Southern city.

Located in the exclusive White Provision Residences, the home provides building amenities including a lap pool, a fitness center and a guest suite. The price tag for the condo also includes three parking spaces, a separate storage unit, and easy access to nearby retail and restaurants.

Hannigan has stayed out of the limelight recently, and we can see why — we’d be busy enjoying this spectacular penthouse, too.

Rea Kelly of Atlanta Fine Homes holds the listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/alyson-hannigan-atlanta-218531/