3 homeowners weren't planning to sell — until a real-estate agent reached out with an offer they couldn't refuse. Here are their stories.

  • Homeowners across the country are in a strong position right now to make big money.
  • Two people who were approached by real-estate agents shared why they decided to sell their houses.
  • One agent sold his father-in-law’s home for 20% more than the original price in an all-cash offer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While potential homebuyers are scrambling to win competitive bidding wars, some homeowners are being approached to sell by real-estate agents.

The current real-estate boom is fueled in part by the coronavirus pandemic, the widespread exodus from big cities, low interest rates, and the rise in interested buyers. Because of this, homes have been selling quicker than ever and at record rates, making housing inventory fall to a record low. And demand doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon.

All of this combined places sellers in a unique position to take offers that are all cash or over asking price.

While real-estate agents have always made an effort to reach potential sellers directly, many sellers are taking them up on the offer as the market remains lucrative.

Insider spoke with two people who never considered selling their homes before an agent reached out, as well as a real-estate agent who persuaded a family member to sell in an effort to take advantage of an eager market.

Desiree Coleman sold her four-bedroom home in St. Louis for $265,900 in August

I bought my four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 2,300-square-foot home in St Louis’ Tower Grove neighborhood in 2017 as a place where my two daughters could have a lot of room to play inside and out.

One of the biggest perks of the house was the flat backyard. It’s hard to find flat backyards in St. Louis with all the hills. We transformed the backyard into everything: We played water games, broke out sidewalk chalk, and created a makeshift skating rink.

I’d been thinking about downsizing for a while when a real-estate agent reached out to me on LinkedIn. He asked me if I had any real-estate needs and offered to give me a call to tell me about his services.

I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get some of my questions answered and get a clearer picture of what sort of timeline I could expect. We spent over an hour on the phone, and afterward he sent all kinds of resources and decks for me to see.

I knew selling my home was going to be a big decision, so it took me over two weeks to get back to him after our initial conversation. What sold me was that right now is an advantageous time in the market. Once we decided to work together, we signed some paperwork and prepared to list the house. My Realtor then told me to start depersonalizing my house, which was the hardest part.

One of my biggest concerns about putting my house on the market during the pandemic was hosting walk-throughs. Last summer was a scary time with case numbers rising, so I made sure to put out hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves before every showing.

We listed the house on a Friday, July 10, and had a handful of scheduled showings that weekend. We started accepting offers the following Monday at 10 a.m., and we saw them roll in immediately. By the end of that day, we were under contract. The house officially sold on August 27 for $265,900. (Editor’s note: St. Louis Realtors reported that the median sale price for a home through February was $233,827, up 20.2% from a year ago.)

Selling my home felt like a whirlwind. I was grateful to have been able to work with the agent who reached out to me, and would advise those looking to sell their homes to make sure the team they surround themselves with is trustworthy and open about how hard the process can be.

Overall, I believe I made the best decision for me. I consider it to be a milestone. I bought and sold my first home, and now I live a five-minute walk away. We were able to negotiate it to where we left our home and went straight into our new house, which I found through a friend of a friend.

Nestor Benavides sold his four-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot home in Austin, Texas, in January for triple the price he’d paid

I moved to Texas from Sweden over 15 years ago to work in the medical field. Ten years ago, my wife and I bought our first home in the suburbs of Austin, less than half an hour outside downtown.

Before last year, we never thought about selling our home, until we were contacted online by a real-estate agent with Better Estimate. Its website had a bunch of tools for us to input our home information and see how the value of our house increased over the years. The tools also allowed us to play around to see how our home would be valued if the market changes.

Because of the pandemic, we knew people were moving out of the city and looking for homes in the suburbs. We also knew a lot of people were moving from coastal cities to Texas. We were also hearing from our neighbors and friends of homeowners in our area making double compared to what they had put down for their down payment.

After speaking with an agent, we decided that selling our home right now when the real-estate market is so hot would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we couldn’t pass up. The market was the biggest motivator in our decision. I believe people have a short-term memory, and while the suburbs remain attractive right now, that may change again in five years.

We listed our house mid-December, and we were under contract in less than three weeks with an all-cash offer. In total, we had 58 offers, which felt like a lot, but our agent told us it was pretty normal for the Austin area.

Since the house sold, my family and I are renting a home in downtown Austin, but plan to move back outside of the city within the next five years if it’s right.

The agent did all of the difficult legwork and helped us evaluate the market trends that ultimately made us happy with the return on investment. Ten years ago, we put down $60,000, and with this sale we’ve tripled our investment.

Tony Erzene helped sell his father-in-law’s two-bedroom home in northern New Jersey in September for 20% more than the original price

I’m a real-estate agent for the Corcoran Group in New York and New Jersey.

Right now, the market in the Northeast is going wild, just as it is all over the country. Because interest rates are historically low, interest is at an all-time high no matter where you go. And every agent I know, including myself, is busier than ever.

This past Father’s Day, my wife and I hosted a barbecue at our house with both of our families. The topic of the real-estate market came up, and my wife’s father, Alan, said he’d been thinking about selling his two-bedroom home. But he didn’t think it was worth as much as he owed on it, and he was convinced he would lose money if he were to put it on the market.

Because it was a family gathering, I didn’t want to talk about business. So the next day I called him and offered to help.

I ran the numbers for him and did a comparative analysis, analyzing how much a property like his was getting these days and adding a little bit more money for the demand. I’ve sold homes in that area before, so I was convinced that when I showed him my research that would do the trick. He was still fairly skeptical. He said, “If you can get it for that much, I will sell it tomorrow.”

After the home was staged and all the paperwork signed, we put the house on the market on July 15. Less than one week later, we were under contract at full asking price with an all-cash offer of $165,000, which was over 20% more than the original price.

Since accepting the offer, my father-in-law has moved to Morristown, New Jersey, which is much closer to his work and his grandchild. My in-laws are renting a home in an upbeat community for less than what they were paying for their mortgage.

Before he sold the house, he would spend over two hours commuting each day. Their new area also has much more nightlife, more restaurants, and more shopping than their previous neighborhood. Every time my wife and I go to see them, it’s like their lives have been reinvigorated after selling their home.

With the real-estate market being so wild right now, the best thing any prospective buyer can do is have a conversation with a professional. Seeking guidance is the most important step, but so is being realistic with your wants.

There are more options out there than most people can fathom. If you have an idea of something you want, and selling a piece of real estate could get you close to that, you should always explore your options.

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