Why We’re Taking Our House Off The Market

by Elizabeth on September 3, 2012 · 9 comments

For six months, you’ve lent me encouragement, support, and advice on how to sell my house. You’ve given me suggestions on how to improve our curb appeal, boost our marketing campaign, and get top dollar for the property. But now, after a grueling 182 days on the market, my husband and I have decided to take down the “for sale” sign in our front yard.

Our house is officially off the market.

Why The Un-Move?

When I wrote my month five update, our asking price was $159,900, down from our original listing price of $163,900. Over the last month, three more properties in my neighborhood came on the market, all with asking prices below $150,000. My husband, Realtor, and I realized all at once that we weren’t going to be able to sell in the $150s, no matter how much we’d all hoped that would happen. As several of you have said to me, you have to separate the emotions from selling a house from the realities; after all, even if an appraiser says your house is worth $161,800 (that’s the actual appraised value of mine from a recent valuation), it may not be worth that much to a buyer.

With that in mind, I decided to take the Financial Samurai’s advice left on my month three update:

What is the lowest you are willing to sell for? When I list, I plan to put it up for 30 days max, set an offer date, and that’s that. If nothing good, then I’m keeping b/c I think housing will continue to get better over the next 5 years.

So, my husband and I looked at our remaining principal balance, determined exactly how much weneededto get out of the house, and told our Realtor we wanted to drop our asking price to the absolute basement: $146,900. We figured if we couldn’t sell it for that – the same price we paid for it six years ago,beforethe recession and before we put on a $20,000 addition – then we didn’t want to sell it at all right now. We gave the market 30 days, and when there were no buyers, we told our Realtor to take it off the market.

Our Neighborhood Is Stagnant

Our Realtor wasn’t surprised by our decision; in fact, he suggested we consider taking a break before we initiated the major price drop. (We did an intermediate price drop to $154,900 for about 10 days, and didn’t even see a blip on the traffic.) Home sales in our neighborhood are just plain stagnant; not a single property has sold in the last seven months, despite the fact that virtually all of our neighbors with properties on the market have taken their list prices well below tax/appraised value. There’s a large tract home community down the street – we call them “cardboard boxes on postage stamp lots,” as they’re 3,500 sq. ft. houses constructed in (no joke) 36 hours from foundation to roof on 1/10-acre lots – that’s getting all the traffic in our area.

Moving Forward

It came down to exhaustion for me and my family. We simply needed a break from having that sign in our yard; it was bogging us down emotionally more than anything. We’re going to let our kids be kids – in other words, messy – for a few months, since houses normally don’t sell all that well in the fall and winter anyway while we watch what the housing market does for the remaining homes in our neighborhood that are still for sale. Then, if things look good, we’ll try putting the house back on the market in the spring; if things don’t look good, we’ll start shopping around for private schools (you may remember that searching for a better public school was our main motivation for listing the house in the first place) for my daughter, who should start kindergarten in 2013.

Thank you for all your help over the past six months! Do you think we made the right move?


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Practical Parsimony September 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

Yo can buy a lot of private school for the loss you would have taken. So, staying might be the better thing.

If the neighborhood is stagnant, can it go down? The ticky tacky houses (a song) are selling? Oh, 3500 sq feet on 1/10 of an acre? McMansions? I have a 4000 sq ft house on a little over 1/2 acre. I cannot imagine how close those houses must be.

Maybe I missed something, but why do you need an addition? Maybe redoing something already in the house would be a better use of your money. You don’t want to have the most expensive house in the neighborhood!

Actually, houses do sell at the end of the year because parents change schools then instead of moving other months. They take advantage of a natural break in the school year.


2 Elizabeth September 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

We already HAVE an addition – we added a sunroom in summer 2008. It was one of those things that is good and bad – it’s now a playroom for our kids, but what we REALLY need is an office for me. I do all my work in a corner of our bedroom, and it’s just really a great work environment. It also means I can’t work during the days when my husband is on night shift, because he needs to be in our bedroom sleeping!

The bigger issue is that we HATE our neighborhood. It’s just not the type of place I see myself raising kids, and ultimately, I’d rather pay the extra couple hundred bucks a year for a new home that is in a neighborhood we like and has the space we need rather than private school, which in our area isn’t all that much better than the private schools! For us, the decision to move was based mainly on location, location, location – and unfortunately, we’re going to be stuck in this same location for a while longer :(


3 Practical Parsimony September 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I would accept the loss in money, get rid of the house, and get a house where you feel better about your neighborhood. Is there not another corner of any other room you can use for an office until you can extract yourself from this predicament? At any rate, I would mot spend money on another addition and then have to get that money out of the house, making it harder to sell.

I cannot recall if you have revealed where you live and I know I forgot how many children you have. Have you said what your occupations are?

My ex decided we had to sell the house and move out of state when I returned to school. We had a three- and five-year-old. He did this on purpose so I would have to keep everything immaculate. He was afraid I would finish my degree and go on to a PhD. He was not responsible for anything at all…mostly a guest there. It was so difficult getting one child ready for school, another ready for pre-school, drive one child to school, and the preschooler to her place at the university care. AND, I had to leave the house so clean and neat every morning, AND get to class. I do understand how that could make things tense for everyone.


4 Elizabeth September 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

My kids are 4 and 1 – and I’m a freelance writer/researcher, so my work requires a LOT of silence and focus! We do have a desk in the corner of our living room, but that’s RIGHT next to the sunroom and quite in the middle of things… not a good place to work if one needs to concentrate! Trust me, we’ve tried thinking out of the box on the whole “where to put my office” thing, and if I want peace while working, the corner of our bedroom’s the only way to go.

I totally sympathize with you on the trying-to-do-everything-as-a-wife-and-mother-and-student-while-trying-to-sell-a-house situation. It can be enough to send a person overboard!


5 jfred September 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm

A little suggestion, as a possibility for an office….if the kids have separate bedrooms, perhaps combine them into one? Since they have the sunroom to play in, the bedrooms could be used only/mainly for resting or sleeping….even different sex kids, if still young, can be combined, as can more than 2 kids. Idk your situation, and this is my first time on your blog, so my 2 cents may be completely undoable for your situation, lol! (we recently moved to a much smaller house, w plans to add on more bedrooms in 3yrs, meanwhile my 2 now share a bedroom. It has its moments, lol, but mostly it has worked out very well.)


6 Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Elizabeth, we both feel for you. It took a while for us to sell our house too. We got a top realtor, made a ton of improvements, and we certainly know the feeling. We did persist, and someone did snap it up (they got a great deal), but I can definitely empathize with the emotions you guys feel and even the analyses you performed when making your decision. Hopefully, the inventory in your neighborhood clears before you put it back on the market. We wish you the best of luck. Cheers!


7 Kevin @ SpringCoin September 4, 2012 at 12:31 am

Although I don’t know the complete back story on this, it seems like you went through all the little details and made an informed/well thought out decision. Sam from Financial Samurai gave you sound advice.


8 Kim@Eyesonthedollar September 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I guess a positive would be that you were not selling because you bought more house than you can afford and can’t make payments. I think you’re smart to take a break. I can’t imagine having two kids and trying to be clean all the time. We’ve only sold one house and were childless at the time. It was hard enough to get out with the two dogs. We don’t have great schools where we live either ,but we were able to sign our daughter up in the neighboring district, which is wonderful. Is there any chance you might be able to do that?


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