BRAINTREE — When we learned we needed to sell our house, I was overwhelmed. I knew how difficult it would be, how it would take months and be an enormously tedious process. Not to mention the financial hit. After all, while I’d heard (and written about) the market picking up a bit, prices hadn’t seemed to be following along. I envisioned our house sitting on the market for months and finally taking whatever offer came along just to get out from under the mortgage. Cut and run.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout at our first open house. The listing went public on several Internet realty sites on a Tuesday night in early March, and it seemed we had immediate interest. Even before we spit-and-polished the house — pretending as best we could that it didn’t hold two boys under 5 years old and two fat and inordinately furry orange cats — we had people stalking our house late at night. They’d drive by, slowly, several times, casing the place in a way that made the neighbors take notice and perhaps double-check that their cars were locked.
But in this case, the mid-March casings were a cause for celebration. The day before the open house, a herd of realtors descended on my neighborhood, scoping the place out for the big Sunday reveal. And when the next day rolled around, more than 70 people showed up. I wasn’t there, officially, but I was staking out the event from around the corner. It was busy, and odd. It was like it wasn’t my house anymore, even though it was, and yet soon it wouldn’t be.
We had four top viable offers. The house — 2,500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms in Braintree Highlands on a 15,000-square-foot lot — was listed for $459,900. It’s a great neighborhood, with many families and a top-rated elementary school right down the street. On Halloween, we had more than 200 children knock on our door wanting candy, and there’s almost always a gaggle of small people with hockey sticks or baseball gloves or bikes wandering around the streets, shouting at one another and swinging in and out of front doors.
We’re about a 10-minute drive to the Braintree stop of the Red Line, about the same distance from the Holbrook/Randolph commuter rail, and there’s a bus at the end of the neighborhood, on Route 37, if you don’t want to park in the T garage. In general, we think it’s a pretty nice place to live. And apparently others agreed with us and wanted to live in our home.
We accepted an offer of $475,000 that had solid financing and a promise of no contingencies, barring some huge structural disaster, meaning the buyers promised not to come back after inspection and demand we knock off $3,000 for small repairs. Most important for us, they would allow us to delay the closing until June, when the kids got out of school. We accepted, and the whole process, from listing the home to signing the offer, took under a week.
In comparison, in the spring of 2010 I sold the old family homestead in Weymouth, a house in the family since it was built, in 1928. It was a different time then for real estate — credit was stuck, the economy was sketchy, and it seemed you couldn’t give houses away. The listing for the 1,400-square-foot, 3-bedroom, and 1.5-bathroom house started at $289,000 and, after several false starts and difficulties, finally sold after some months for $237,000, and I considered that a miracle. A sad miracle, in many ways, for I still miss that house, but life marches on.
Our realtor, Mike Molisse of Molisse Realty Group, had priced the Braintree house to sell quickly. Well-priced homes in nice family neighborhoods are selling like hotcakes, he said.
“It’s all real estate, real estate, real estate right now,” Molisse said. “I’m sure you’re seeing it as you look around. It’s all moving very quickly.”
Interest rates are at historic lows at around 3.5 percent for 30 years, and people seem to be feeling more confident about their personal situations. Now, they’re looking for homes, and unless there is something holding back the sale, real estate is moving once again. And not just in Massachusetts.
We’re moving to New Jersey, within commuting distance of Manhattan, where we’ll work. We spent a weekend looking at houses recently, and it was insane.
Buyers were snatching up the best houses the day they were listed, with multiple offers. It seems clear the economy, at least for now, is on the upswing.
Selling a house, moving, and then buying another one — all within a couple of months — is not my idea of fun. Add in a difficult market, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster, or at least some impressive mental-health issues. Continued...