Written by Kristen Kemp’s husband Johan Svenson. He admits he’s not a writer, but he works in finance:
In the Fall of 2008, we tried to sell our large, lovely house at left. We wanted to move from busy Bloomfield Avenue to a quiet and kid-friendly neighborhood. We had no idea what we were doing, and we made big mistakes. We listed the house crazy high–$675,000–at the suggestion of our then broker. We also waited too long to put it on the market thinking the summer would be slow. We did it in early fall.
Mind you, this was 2008. The first bit of advice I want to give is this: Contrary to popular belief, there is no ideal season to sell a house. Data shows that a consistent number of houses are sold each month in Montclair. Our house could have gone up for sale in July, instead we waited until after Labor Day.
We reduced it by 7.5 percent. Then we had three offers close to asking, but it was too late. While in attorney review, the Dow fell 700 points in one day, and our buyers were “no longer in the market.” I couldn’t blame them. We took the house off the market until the environment stabilized somewhat.
In the spring of this year, with the housing market devalued but more stable, we went for it again. We were determined to move. Our new strategy: Choose a highly ranked broker, price aggressively, and get the house on the market ASAP. An energetic and enthusiastic Candi Schwartz showed up on our door step. She advised us on pricing strategy and how the house should look. Our house was on the market two weeks later (Kristen freaked, but she pulled through), and we had three solid offers within days.
We lost money on the house, selling at $550,000. That sucks, but it’s done.
Meanwhile, we found a beautiful rental on Kristen’s favorite street in the Estate Section. Recently, on an Indian Summer evening, our three kids rode their bikes up and down the driveway, and they walk to preschool every day. I never thought I’d be renting again, but here I am, loving it. I’m not in a hurry to buy.
After being burned in the housing market, we plan on renting for a few more years. Where are the taxes headed in Montclair? Is a house with $25,000 per year in taxes going to go up to $35,000 in the next few years? Is the worst of the housing crisis over, or is there a second leg down, which I suspect? Regardless, I don’t see house prices sky-rocketing any time soon, and there’s no urgency to jump in and own right away.
So I’m going to relax in my backyard without a lot of maintenance concerns. It’s an exciting position to be in: I can buy when I am ready, and I don’t have to sell first.