7 months later, couple hires agents ... SOMETIMES IT DOESN'T ON YOUR OWN

May 29, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Even before they could put their stucco, Tudor-style house on the market, Rogers and Debe Thompson had a buyer.

A neighbor's relatives toured the three-bedroom house on a quarter-acre lot in Homeland and offered the Thompsons a contract that day. They'd buy the house as soon as they sold their own.

Because of the contingency, the Thompsons decided to seek a backup contract. They felt misled by a real estate agent who was trying to win their business, so they figured they'd sell it themselves.

It couldn't be too difficult, they thought. After all, the deal with their buyer for $215,000 was all but closed. And they knew a lot about the real estate business: Her mother, his mother and a good friend had been real estate agents.

Mr. Thompson, a business manager for a computer systems integration company, and his wife, a part-time anxiety disorder specialist, found a townhouse under construction in Mays Chapel in Baltimore County. They signed a contingent contract. With their son headed for college, the couple wanted a smaller, easier-to-maintain house. Plus, they wanted to leave the city, where their 70-year-old home had been badly burglarized two years ago.

They placed a "For Sale" sign in their yard and ads in newspapers and printed brochures to hand prospective buyers.

From the beginning, they had no shortage of shoppers through the home, a center-hall design with a large living room and sunroom and potential to expand an unfinished third level. Several nearby homes were for sale, and the Thompsons benefited from that traffic. At first, they showed the house several times a week and on weekends. But too often, visitors were real estate agents trying to get a listing.

Despite the traffic, another offer never came. And as the Thompson's contingent buyers waited for their home to sell, weeks dragged into seven frustrating months. The Thompsons were forced to back out of the contract on their new townhouse.

Though she found it inconvenient and time-consuming always keeping the house spotless and making appointments to show the property, Mrs. Thompson had expected that. But she was unprepared for the constant expense of advertising and marketing.

"You don't feel like being nickeled and dimed to death while you're going through the process," she said. "It would have been nice to get it over with just so we could get on with things."

In the midst of a dead winter market, the Thompsons gave the contingent buyers their 48-hour notice to buy the home. The buyers backed out.

"We had had enough," Mrs. Thompson said. "We thought the best thing to do would be to take the home off the market, spruce things up and put it back on the market with a real estate company in the spring. We were going to let someone else have the headache and expense."

This spring, the Thompsons listed their home with O'Conor, Piper & Flynn and felt encouraged by the marketing plan that their agents showed them.

"They can be more bold in their advertising methods," Mrs. Thompson said. "People help them send mailings and deliver fliers and they can be much more aggressive."

The Thompsons listed their home on a Thursday in March. On Friday, before a new "For Sale" sign had gone up, the agents called with an appointment to show the home the next morning. By dinnertime Saturday, the Thompsons had a contract, also for $215,000.

They felt satisfied with the price -- $4,000 below their asking price -- even though they had to pay a commission and made less profit than they would have originally.

"We felt it was reasonable to pay that expense out of the $215,000 because we wouldn't have to go through the difficulty of selling our house," Mrs. Thompson said. "Even though it is expensive, if I were selling again tomorrow, I would do it through a real estate agent. I see it as a painless way of doing this."

"So much goes on with paperwork and negotiations, that doing this through a third party saves wear and tear on the nerves," she says. "You have to realize you're not an expert in it, even though we couldn't have had more advice. If some people sell on their own, it's probably just because they're lucky."

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