House, Premium Price, Perfect Timing
“It’s surprising when everything works out the way you hoped. It’s not often you can check all the boxes and get every single one.”
Selling a house that’s a little out of the ordinary can be tricky—even in a strong Palo Alto market.
Presenting a quirky house in a way that appeals to just the right buyer is both a science and an art. When the result is a premium price and an offer that exceeds all expectations in record time—it’s a true masterpiece. A sale like this requires an excellent sense of the market, including up-to-the-minute inventory, demand and selling prices, the imagination to create an enticing story and setting, and the personality to pull it off in a way that makes both sellers and buyers happy.
A Referral and a Good Feeling
Chris Iverson had sold a house for friends of Stephen and Annie who enthusiastically recommended him when it was time to sell their own house. Upon meeting, they were impressed with Chris’s understanding of the market, the way he listened to their ideas and needs, and his thoughtful approach to marketing their home.
In January, Stephen and Annie knew they wanted to sell their house, but they didn’t want to move until early summer. The greatest challenge was figuring out how to time the sale so that their house sold quickly for a premium price without uprooting their family before they were ready.
Everything about their initial marketing plan would change—from the listing price to the timing of putting the house on the market. Some of the changes might have seemed risky or even crazy, but they had complete faith in Chris’ recommendations. Stephen said, “We knew that he could make it happen. We’d watched him do it for our friends.”
Creating Value for the Right Buyer
Although the house was charming, it had its challenges. Built-in 1938, the New Eng- land colonial didn’t have the open floorplan or modern finishes that appeal to today’s buyers. One of the bedrooms was exceptionally small and didn’t have a closet.
Chris was able to look beyond the challenges and dig deeper for the unique features of the home that would attract just the right buyer. “The home is across the street from a park and it’s on a cul-de-sac. Those are qualities that appeal to families with young children,” Chris said. “There are only six cul-de-sacs in Crescent Park and only 25 houses on them, so I knew we had something special.”
With families in mind, Chris staged the second-floor deck to create an additional living space. When potential buyers came through the house, he pointed out that parents could sit on the deck with a glass of wine and watch over their children at the park playground—successfully crafting a story that allowed the buyers to imagine themselves in the house.
Fast Action in a Fast Moving Market
Although the original idea was to put the house on the market in May, Chris realized in early spring that there was a unique window of opportunity. “It was a very strong seller’s market. The inventory was low, the prices were way up over last year and this was creating a desperation among buyers,” he said.
The Palo Alto market, which tends to be strongest in the early spring, may not have been as robust in May. Chris also knew that his sellers wanted to purchase a home in Washington D.C. where they were moving, and that they would feel much more comfortable if they could sell their current house first.
When Chris learned that Stephen and Annie would be out of town for two weeks in March, he came up with a bold, new plan. They would hire movers to pack up most of their stuff in a temporary storage POD, make necessary renovations to the house, stage it, and put it on the market the first weekend they were gone. He would accept offers the following week. Chris believed he could sell the house in that timeframe, but if they didn’t, they would take it off the market, move the family’s things back in and try again in May.
One final detail: Chris listed the house at $200,000 above their original price.
Setting the Buyer’s Expectations to Exceed the Seller’s Expectations
The first day Chris accepted bids, he got an offer for $125,000 over asking price, with no contingen- cies, and a free rent-back for the owners until the end of June.
“There wasn’t a need to negotiate,” said Stephen. “We got more than everything we asked for. Chris did a great job of communicating to buyers what our needs were, so it was all pre-negotiated. Ev- erything was already built into the offer.
“The timing was just incredible. Our house sold and we made an offer on another house in D.C. that was accepted—all within a span of 12 hours.”
Good Feelings and Referrals
“Chris is energetic, very engaging, and easy to talk to,” said Stephen. “He was terrific pre-sale. He knew the market and he was responsive and always in very close communication with us. Post-sale, he’s also been terrifically helpful. He’s been there with us through the whole process.
“We’ve already started sending him other clients.”