Managing Big Changes: Moving, Marriage, and Relaxation...

Moving is hard work. I know this because I moved recently and it was a lot of hard work. Last September I got married and combined our two households into a single residence in Stoughton. We lived there for a while and then decided to move into Madison in order to be more centrally located. This seemed like a reasonable thing to do. It was my opportunity to take my own advice that I typically give my clients. Selling one house and moving into another proved to be a little more difficult than I imagined.

Selling Challenges

As we prepared to sell our home, we did what most people do. We cleaned like mad and fixed up every little thing we possibly could, within reason. Cleaning seemed to be the most difficult with two cats and a dog. Then of course, there was the challenge of dealing with the dog during showings. Our lab puppy is only two years old and loves to jump up on people. Surely, that would have to go out during any showings. Then of course, there's the pricing game. I've heard this most recently when some Realtors say, "it's a beauty contest and a price war in today's market." Last quarter, there were 625 single family sales in Dane county. Obviously, homes are selling, it just depends on which ones. Our goal was to be one of the 40 to 50% of the listings that actually sell. We thought long and hard about price and condition of our home in order to command a reasonable offer. We ended up making a few price adjustments from our first day on the market, but then received an offer within about six weeks of going on the market. Wow, now we had an accepted offer but did not have a new home picked out yet. I thought to myself, "yikes! They want to close in a month." Time to get packing.

Moving to Madison

My wife and I love downtown Madison. In fact, when considering a move, that's pretty much the area we focused on. We wanted to be somewhere close to the capitol, on the near east, or near west sides of Madison. In fact, both of our workplaces are centrally located and thought it would be nice to be able to walk or even ride a bike to work. Yes, Mayor Dave, we like the new bike boxes. Not that I hate my car, but I would like to reduce the number of miles that I drive in a given week. The other main criteria that we had, was to find some kind of income property, maybe a two, three, or four unit place that would allow us to live in one unit and rent out the others. My wife would have probably loved a new condo in Capitol West or Metropolitan Place, but for now we decided to try our hands at becoming landlords in a multi-unit property. Also, we met with our lender for pre-approval and to discuss current mortgage options. However, we also discovered that lending guidelines have become much more restrictive and it seemed like they wanted a never ending flow of documentation before approving the loan. Okay, location, check. Property type, check. Price range and pre-approval letter, check. Let's go shopping!

Home Found - Negotiations

Eventually we found a home that we liked over on Paterson Street in the Tenney Lapham Neighborhood. Then came the negotiation strategy. Offering a reasonable price without being offensive. Actually, the negotiations are part of my favorite things to deal with in the real estate business. I applied skills that I've learned in books like Crucial Conversations, Getting to Yes, and even used techniques acquired at our pre-marital classes. Yes, negotiating a deal on a house is a lot like negotiating with your wife. It's hard, but if you continue the dialogue and stay focused on what you want, eventually you'll get there.

Think it Through and Take Time to Relax

For those considering a move from one house to another, I would suggest one thing based on our recent experience. Think through all your options before making any final decisions. In fact, one thing that helps put you in a strong negotiating position is having a good alternative to a negotiated agreement. Meaning, if this deal doesn't work out, what's your plan "B". For us, we wanted to move to Madison from Stoughton, but could have stayed in our home if it didn't sell. Also, we have family and friends in the area that would help us if we didn't find the right home to buy right away. In the end, being flexible on timing was a big advantage. Having completed this move, I now feel more equipped to help my real estate clients with first hand experience. However, be prepared for a lot of work and make sure to take time to relax once in a while. If you'd like to chat more about my experience of buying and selling homes in the Madison area, let me know.

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