We signed the paperwork to list our house last night. I think we're asking a fair price, considering the type. It's a little starter home, cute, new enough (6 yrs) to still be attractive to potential buyers, I think. I'm still purging unwanted stuff, packing not frequently used items into boxes to put in the attic (de-cluttering), cleaning, etc.
On Monday, my agent will take interior photos and put up the yard sign. I'll probably cry then (again). It still doesn't feel real yet. We did find a house in our neighborhood that we like a lot. Still trying to decide whether it's The One, but I can certainly see myself living there (that's a good start).
The tricky thing is that I live in a fairly affluent town, but we're not very affluent ourselves (nor are we poor). When we first returned to Louisiana, this was a pretty affordable area to live because it is a bit of a commute for the people who work in New Orleans (a 24 mile toll-bridge, plus interstate traffic into the city).
Hurricane Katrina changed all that. We were fortunate that our area was not severely impacted (in general, our area had wind damage, but only the homes within a few blocks of lake flooded). So much of the New Orleans and the immediately surrounding areas were devastated. While there are people who are committed to rebuilding there, a great number decided to move to our area. Suddenly being far away from the city became a plus.
Property values initially skyrocketed. They've leveled off now, though. As I said in yesterday's post, we priced ourselves out of a lot of properties by waiting (and by being conservative). However, I feel like we're getting to the point that the value of the starter homes will peak so this would be a good time to sell. No one is building mid-level neighborhoods, though. Everything is upscale, which is nice...unless you're in the market for a mid-level home. The houses in our neighborhood are mid-level and are 6-17 years old. Other mid-levels homes in the area are much, much older.
Insurance is another huge issue. Because of Hurricane Katrina, many insurance companies have stopped doing business in the state of Louisiana. My carrier, Allstate, will write new policies for existing customers, but they're one of the few. They may be the only one by now, for all I know. Insurance costs have gone up - I've gotten used to that. The state flood insurance plan isn't terribly expensive in our area. The kicker is that if we sell our existing home which Allstate provides with hazard (fire, accident) & wind/hail coverage, they'll issue a new policy for hazard, but NOT for wind/hail. We'll have to go through the state insurance plan for that. :-(
There's also a rule on the books that an insurance company cannot drop a policy without good reason if the customer has had insurance for more than three years. Well, if we buy a new home, then we start all over with a new policy, which Allstate can feasibly drop (oops, they call it "non-renew" - like that makes a difference) our hazard coverage within 3 years - which means we'd have to go with the $tate run in$urance plan.
It's a gamble. My agent seems to feel that Allstate is committed to staying in Louisiana, and because we have multiple policies (auto, life, home) and a clean claims history that they'd be unlikely to drop/non-renew us. Of course, he doesn't know that for sure. It'll likely take several years for the insurance industry to stabilize and attract new providers.
So here's how it stands. Our house will soon be on the market. I think we'll make an offer for the one we like best. It will be a predicated offer, contingent on the sale of our home. Then we wait.... we wait to see if the seller will accept our offer (or negotiate), then we wait to see if someone will make a decent offer on our home.
Let the emotional rollercoaster begin!