Name: Elena Luther, 43, a mom of three (Alison, 16; Raef, 12; and Breck, 10)
The home: A six-bedroom, six-full and two-half bath home built in 2005.
Where: Suwanee's The River Club
Why she sold: "It's a beautiful neighborhood, and the amenities are great. Unfortunately, unless you can justify everyone using the amenities and paying the (home association and membership) fees, it just doesn't make any sense ... to keep paying that amount," said Luther, who had lived in the home since 2005.
Time on market: 60 days
Original price: $995,000
Sale price: $994,000
What it took: Luther put the home on the market a week after Thanksgiving, thinking it could take a year to sell because of market conditions and the holiday season, which typically is a tougher time to sell a home. Working with Cheri Riley, founding partner of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby's International Realty, they noticed that sellers in the neighborhood were getting about 80 percent of the home's value. "So that's how I priced it," she said. She had an offer within 12 days. "It was shocking because I wasn't ready for that. I really thought it was going to take a while." She also staged the house to perfection, Riley said.
Potential stumbling block: They only accepted offers that would accommodate two terms: requiring non-refundable earnest money early and being able to remain in the house after closing. Those terms were tough for buyers, Riley said. Luther said she desired to stay in the house 30 or more days after closing, have money early to shop for a home — and get estimates for updates — while confident that she had a solid deal. "Pricing the house right and having it look great allowed her to really call the shots on those terms," Riley said.
Her first offer - for full list price - fell through because of the buyer's financing difficulties. The home went back on the market the day after Christmas, and quickly received another offer (also for list price), but the financing also didn't work out. She gave it one more try, and 36 hours after listing it, she received a contract. The home sold in March ($1,000 was taken off the list price after the due diligence period, for small repairs). She purchased a home in a different Suwanee neighborhood and spent about four months renovating the home.
Seller's hint: Take potential buyers' attention away from the weak spots. For example, the home had a master on the main, which is a desired feature, but the master bathroom and closet were smaller than buyers may have expected. "In the closet, I made sure I had an outfit on display," she said. By drawing the eye to the outfit hanging up, she hoped buyers would not dwell on the closet's size.
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