Scaling Down, House Goes on the Market

For Sale Sign Posted

For Sale Sign Posted

Actually, our house has been on the market for a little more than three weeks now. Besides doing the processing to put the house into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, the other key initial service of the seller’s agent is to provide a sign. In our case, the positioning of the sign is a bit tricky. The sidewalk in front of our house is actually city property – you can’t place a sign on city property. Directly on the edge of the sidewalk is a rock wall that drops about four feet to our grass. If you put the sign on our grass, no one will see it.

We ended up putting the sign at the end of our driveway. That position is legal. However, the way our lot is laid out, the sign is closest to a piece of greenbelt that we own. The greenbelt is part of our lot and is not buildable. However, the sign position looks a little like it is an advertisement for a vacant lot.

Oh well.

Picture of Electronic Real Estate Lock Box

Electronic Real Estate Lock Box

In any event, the major advertising channel these days is actually the internet. The agent lists the house on MLS. MLS automatically pushes the key information out to publicly visible websites like Zillow.com.

The actual showing procedure is quite interesting and seems to have evolved tremendously in recent years. The first step is that you give your real estate agent a key to the house. The real estate agent places the door key into a wireless electronic lock box like the one shown above. Once the key is loaded into the lock box, the box is locked onto your front door handle.

Picture of Electronic Lock Box in Place

Electronic Lock Box in Place

Now everything proceeds rather automatically.

  1. Potential customers and/or their agents identify your house as one they would like to look at.
  2. The buyer’s agent calls your phone and lets you know when they will be arriving. Usually, they give you a day’s warning. Sometimes, however, it is only 15-20 minutes.
  3. You don’t answer the call. In our case, Vonage records the message from the agent and forwards it to my e-mail. That mechanism is handy because it gives me an electronic record in the form of the e-mail and its attached WAV file.
  4. You have to maintain your house in a state of bizarre artificial cleanliness at all times. No objects on horizontal surfaces. No visible trash cans. No magazines or newspapers. Your house has to look like it is inhabited by a species of sterile Martians that levitate above the floor emitting only oxygen.
  5. Neither you nor your real estate agent is supposed to be present. In other words, if you are at home when the phone rings, you need to frantically remove all evidence of human presence and depart immediately.
  6. When the potential customer arrives with the buyer’s real estate agent, the agent uses a special electronic key fob to open the lock box and retrieve the door key.
  7. The buyer and the buyer’s agent now tour your house and decide whether your house looks like the pictures they have been viewing on Pinterest.
  8. On the way out, the buyer’s agent locks up the house and returns the key to the lock box.

In theory, the buyer’s agent is supposed to fill out an electronic form giving you feedback about what the potential customer thought. In practice, less than one in ten does so. We have received only two such feedback forms so far, one of which let us know that the utility closet upstairs where our clothes washer and dryer are installed was Pinterest-challenged. Fortunately, as mentioned in a previous post, Tomoko is a master of Zendo (繕道), the Japanese art of small cosmetic repairs. She spent the next several days shuttling back and forth to Home Depot and carefully painting the interior of the washer/dryer utility closet to bring the closet up to Pinterest standards.

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