Despite hiccups, sale goes through

Name: Robert and Lilia Brown. Robert is a territory operations leader for YUM Brands.

The home: A five-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house built in 2008

Where: Suwanee

Why they sold: Robert and Lilia have two daughters and family members who visit from Peru for extended periods, so they wanted to buy a bigger house with a basement for guest space. Although they were in a strong school district, Settles Bridge Elementary School, the couple also was interested in moving to Sharon Elementary, which also is in the Forsyth County School District. The couple put earnest money on a six-bedroom, four-bath home under construction in Suwanee’s Waterford Bluff neighborhood, just five minutes away. “That triggered us going through the process to sell our home,” Robert said. “Of course, we were nervous. If our old house doesn’t sell within the time frame of our new house, we have to pay a double mortgage. That’s everybody’s nightmare, right?”

Time on market: five days

Original price: $240,000

Sale price: $239,000

What it took: For a few years, the Browns had received email newsletters about the housing market from Debby Braun, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty-First Atlanta. “She was very tenacious. It wasn’t, ‘Hey, I want your business. It was more like, this is what’s going on with the industry,’” Robert said. He interviewed several agents, including Braun, and liked the amount of market data and feedback she provided about the home.

The Browns rented a storage unit for their furniture, and Braun walked through every room, the garage and around the house making recommendations for changes (such as removing all family photos) and staging. She coached them on rooms to paint, including the pink walls in their daughters’ rooms. The Browns worked on the home for about three weeks. Outside, they fluffed up the pine straw and pine bark, pruned the bushes and added flowers in pots. “Then we put it in on the market,” he said.

In the first two days, they had 10 showings. They received offers by the end of the second day and a third offer the next day, Braun said. They chose the third offer, which was the highest. The buyer was an investor willing to pay cash (eliminating the need for a worrisome appraisal) and provide $10,000 in earnest money.

Potential stumbling block: About six hours before the 14-day due diligence period expired, the buyer’s agent sent over an amendment to extend the due diligence period. Before the Browns returned the signed amendment, they received a notice that the buyer wanted to terminate the contract, Braun said. They were told the investor was still interested in purchasing the property for $9,000 less than the original offer, which the Browns did not want to accept. The due diligence period had expired and no extension was granted. A dispute arose over whether the buyer was entitled to a refund of the earnest money, Braun said. The sale didn’t appear to be going through, so the home was active again, and another offer came in. While they were negotiating, the original buyer decided to proceed with the purchase at the agreed-upon price under the original contract. They closed on the home in May.

Seller’s hint: Realize selling a home is not personal. “You’ve got to treat it as a business transaction,” Robert said. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting that mortgage note off your name. That’s the bottom line.”

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