Selling a House

See also: Staging a House

Parent Q&A

Help us weigh pros/cons of selling or renting out our home Dec 27, 2019 (9 responses below)
Prep house for sale Nov 6, 2019 (1 responses below)
  • Hi BPN, My family is considering a move to Madison to be near family and we need help deciding whether or not to sell our Berkeley home prior to our relocation.  We bought in 2015 and have about 400,000 in equity due to the crazy ridiculous market. (I'm sorry- I hate posts where people say stuff like this but it is relevant to the decision-making process so I had to share.) We could possibly take some of this equity from our home to purchase in Madison although we aren't sure our income will allow us to take very much equity. Based on calculations online it seems rents are high enough that we could rent the house to cover the mortgage payment and taxes, but it is highly tempting to sell and take the equity to invest in the stock market and have a very small mortgage payment on a home in Madison.  Part of my heart is breaking leaving here, so I think emotionally I like the idea of keeping the house to be able to return to the Bay Area if/when we would be able to. Have you moved away and maintained a rental property here? Pros/cons? Any advice is appreciated. 

    This is a great problem to have! Just wanted to say kudos for this investment, it's hard living here totally get it. My husband and I think about this move all the time.

    I would consider how you plan to manage the place as a big factor. There are some great companies out there like Belong (we considered them to manage our house if we rent it out) because the laws are changing so rapidly here and you don't want a squatter situation while being far away. Not sure how much maintenance your home will need, but you just don't want to deal with that hassle is my only guess. If you really want to move on and don't want any ties to the Bay Area anymore and are sure you will never move back, I would say sell. 

    Good luck! 

    If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read up very carefully on tenant rights in Berkeley as that may be a factor in your decision. It can be very hard to get a tenant to move without cause and selling the house is not cause for eviction. Selling a tenant-occupied house can affect the market value of the house. I’m not saying you shouldn’t rent out your house because of this, but you should probably factor it into your decision. If it were me, I would sell, but I have no stomach for managing a property and tenants from a distance, not to mention the legal issues if your tenants refuse to leave when the day comes to sell. 

    Hi! So sorry for your heartbreak. I empathize. Can you rent for a year or so, until you are sure and settled in your location? Having an option for retreat in case you have "sellers remorse". The issues to consider on renting are the effect of the Berkeley Rent Law on your rental, and your potential inability to move back in.(Good cause for eviction) Please get some good legal advice on this issue, from St. John and Associates, or an attorney listed on the Berkeley Property Owners Association website.

    Issues to consider on selling are: capital gains tax, all due for the tax year that you sell. One option here would be an installment sale, so the sellers do not leap into a astronomical tax bracket or the year of sale.

  • Prep house for sale

    (1 reply)

    I had a relative pass away with his main asset being his house in San Francisco. We plan to sell the house per his will. We've gone through the house to clear it of any personal effects so now all that is left is old furniture, clothing and other random items. Is there a service that can help us dispose/sell/donate these items? Can a real estate agent also help with this as part of their services in getting the house ready to sell? 

    RE: Prep house for sale ()

    Yes, the realtor should be able to help.  Not by their own labor, but by hiring people (with you paying most likely) or giving you the names of people.  They make a lot in commisions.  At least, we gave our realtor the keys to the house and moved out, and she got in painters and rug layers and other minor repairs done.  Mostly we had to pay the bills for the work done.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How to make a crowded house look more appealing

Oct 2001

We are going to be selling our house and looking for a bigger one. I would love some advice from those who have sold houses before as to how to deal with making the house look more appealing for sale. I have read articles about staging a home - I'm not looking for how to stage our home per se. I'm really asking for something more basic about logistics: our house is very crowded in all the rooms except my daughter's. We have no place to put any of the stuff as the garage is already full (see why we're moving?!?!!). Logistically speaking, how does all of this happen? I have gone to many open houses. The houses are never cluttered and I always wonder where all their stuff is (though of course, they could just be neat). Do you have to get move the stuff just for a broker's open house and then once more for a regular folks' open house or do you have to get rid of the stuff longer term? The only reason our place is cluttered is as our daughter got older, her stuff got bigger. And we just all have too much stuff. While we can work on getting rid of stuff we don't need, most of this stuff is stuff we need, but simply don't have a good place for. Thanks in advance - we have never been in the position before, obviously. This is our first home.

In reply to the person selling their home. As someone who has just sold our home, our advise to you regarding clutter is just to bite the bullet and rent a storage space to store it in until you move. Our realtor advised us not to stage the house but just to remove about half of our belongings. It really made a difference. We saw many open houses that looked staged, and it really just seems so artificial to you're living at Williams Sonoma or something. Our first open house was supposed to be the Sunday after 9/11. We put it off a week to assess the impact of the attacks on the real estate market. We had 2 successive open houses the following 2 Sundays and had several offers the next Tuesday to choose from and accepted one $30K over the asking price! I'm convinced our house was so well received due in large part because we removed half of the clutter that normally we don't think twice about. My wife and I are not normally super neat and with 2 small children, it's hard to keep toys and such off the floors and clutter off the counters and shelves, but we did it. We had a full basement to store most of our stuff in, but would have rented a space if we had to. Believe me, you'll more than recoup the cost of the rental and you'll get a head start on packing. A cluttered house will not show well. By the way, any good realtor worth his/her salt will advise you to do the same. Ours, Nacio Brown at Templeton Leverette (our old house at 934 Delaware is featured on his website, ) gave us many good recommendations that resulted in a quick sale for substantially more than the asking price directly following the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history. We couldn't have asked for better. Good luck. -Rob
I think it would be worth it for you to pack up a lot of stuff and put it in storage (away from the house) while you show the house, even if you don't have it staged. It seems like everyone stages their home these days, and I've heard that cosmetic details like newly done floors, having home painted, and putting in nice plantings in the yard, can make a big difference in the amount of money you can get for a house. A friend of mine sold their house about a year ago without a realtor. They had the windows cleaned professionally also. It made a big difference in how the house looked. -Andrea
A good agent should be able to advise you on what needs to be done to prepare your house for sale in this market. A house that is clutter free, staged, freshly painted (if needed) and of course priced appropriately will attract more buyers and sell more quickly than one that is not. If you don't have storage space in your garage/basement then renting storage space would be the best option. It takes a lot of work to put a house on the market, you want it to look as attractive as possible to prospective buyers so that it will sell quickly. The longer it stays on the market the more likely it is that any offer will be below your asking price. -Mary