Real Estate and Life in Colorado and Beyond

Real Estate Success, First-Generation American Style

My clients Erik and Elizabeth are now renting the home they owned and occupied for the past five years.  Last week they sold the property, a 5BR ranch just south of Strasburg.  A Post-Closing Occupancy Agreement allows them to stay rent-free through September.

The home is not just “ranch style,” as I said in the MLS listing.  It is a 35-acre ranch zoned for cattle and growing crops.  They raised oats there and boarded horses for family and friends.  They’ve also been raising their two children, Alex and Max, age 14 and 10.

Their sell price was $900,000.  They purchased the property from a new-home developer in 2017.  Purchase price back then was $491,033, made with a $110,00 down payment.  They walked away from the sale last week with a check in excess of $460,000.

It took 114 days from listing the property to closing.  That’s pretty slow—kind of an eternity in today’s market, and it was not without drama.

Three weeks before we listed, a ranch property one-half mile to the south sold for $948,000.  That home was a different animal, however, with significantly more square footage but an unfinished basement.

Our home had a beautifully finished basement thanks to expert remodel work by Erik. (He is a multi-talented drywall contractor.)  They bought the home as a 3BR and expanded it to five conforming bedrooms.  They also added a barn, tool shed, and chicken coop.

If the house down the street could pull $948,000, I figured we could get $900,000.  Erik was a bit more optimistic and insisted on trying for $919,000.  That’s where we listed.

Even back then—it seems like a year ago—the market was starting to slow. We got listed on May 12.  Showings were scarce; just three happened in May.  I staged an Open House on May 14 and one party showed up.

Then a breakthrough, on Memorial Day weekend. A neighbor spotted my sign and looked up the listing on Zillow.  He called me to ask for a walk through.  I was very ill that day and unable to get out there.  But Elizabeth met up with the buyers, and the visit went well.

We were under contract within a week.  They’d offered 865, we countered at 910, and we settled at 900.  That’s exactly what I’d considered fair market value a few weeks earlier.  Now I felt we were fortunate to see that price in writing.

But there was one catch.   The offer that we accepted was contingent on another sale.  The buyers needed to sell their 4BR home in Aurora.

It was a nice, sellable-looking home.  But it wasn’t listed yet.  In fact, the owners wanted two weeks to get it ready.  We stipulated a listing deadline of June 18, and they’d have until August 1 to sell their house and buy ours.

So June 18 rolled around, and local home sales seemed to have ground to a halt.  The Federal Reserve had just hiked the overnight rate by 75 basis points, matching what they’d already done since March.  The market was in shock.

On the last Sunday in June, hoping to grease the skids, I personally staged an Open House at the contingent sale property in Aurora.  Two generally uninterested parties showed up.  With summer heating up, things were starting to look grim.

Then another breakthrough.  On July 1, I was on vacation in Wisconsin.  I got a text from the agent representing the Aurora sellers (our buyers).  They were under contract!   We all celebrated the 4th with joy and relief.

But by the end of the week, that contract was terminated.   The buyers cited no real reason.  Something about structural concerns, but there were no real issues.

Three weeks remained for our buyers to sell their Aurora home and purchase our listing.  Of course that would be impossible. But it could still come together with some deadline extensions.

Then came the next breakthrough.  On July 31, the day before our buyers’ deadline to sell, I got a text.  The buyers were about to go under contract, again.  The agent asked whether my clients, the sellers, would agree to extend the deadlines to something like September 1.

The catch?  The purchase was still contingent on selling the Aurora home. And the Aurora sale was contingent on yet another sale, of a condo in Littleton.   If we agreed to extend, we’d have a contract with a contingency that relied on another contingency.

We hashed it out, and after a bit of arm twisting by me, Erik and Elizabeth said yes.  All three deals closed last week, in Littleton, Aurora, and Strasburg.

Erik and Elizabeth and both first-generation Americans, both born to Mexican parents in Los Angeles.  Erik quit school, before middle school, and went to Zacatecas, in central Mexico, to work on the family farm. He returned to the U.S. and started doing drywall at age 16.  He is now 40 and has run his own business for 20 years.

Elizabeth is 34, with a high school diploma and dental assistant certificate. I had the privilege of serving her mom a buyer’s agent in 2017.  Manuela had then worked at a Walmart for 17 years, and still does. She qualified for a loan and bought a home near Horseshoe Park in Aurora, where she now lives with her husband. That property has gained at least $150,000 in value.

The next home for Erik and Elizabeth will be a new build.  After our sale closing last Friday, they bought a 35-acre parcel near Strasburg, a bit farther out on the eastern plains.

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