It took two years for my husband and me to come to the decision to sell our home in St. Petersburg, FL. We went back and forth on the idea for a few reasons. A big one? One of our sons had a lot of friends in our neighborhood, and we didn’t want to uproot him.
Even so, the market was hot in our area, and we knew we could make a decent amount of money if we sold our home.
In November, we were ready to sell. We wanted to pay off some debt, build up a savings account, and buy a new car.
Our real estate agent advised us to list right after the holidays. In the meantime, we made a few cosmetic upgrades, added fresh paint, and installed new fixtures.
We listed our home on Jan. 7, and our agent scheduled an open house for the following weekend. During the open house—just five days after listing—we received an offer.
We accepted the offer, but it fell through. No time for dismay! We scheduled showings the following week, and our agent scheduled another open house. Then, 11 days after listing our house, we received another offer, which was right at our asking price.
Everything looked great on paper, and we eagerly accepted the offer. At first, we were thrilled. Our plan worked! And then we took a look at the timeline for closing and freaked out just a bit. If all went well, we’d hand over the keys to our home in 28 to 30 days.
Here’s what I learned from selling a home in rapid fashion.
We needed a new place to stay
For our next move, my husband and I decided we were going to rent a house instead of buying a place right away. There were two main rationales at work.
One, we wanted to pay off more debt and raise our credit scores to obtain the best mortgage rate possible.
Two, we weren’t 100% sure where we wanted to set down roots in St. Petersburg. The city is really spread out, and one of our kids is headed to high school in a year. It made sense for us to wait before we bought again. In hindsight, the wait makes even more sense.
That said, the market here was hot earlier this year—for both home sales and rentals. The majority of the homes in St. Petersburg are older and small, and just about everything is expensive.
This meant few options that suited our needs and were within our budget. The market was moving quick in January so our family of four had to act fast when we found a place we liked.
Watch: Don’t Put These Things on Display When You’re Trying to Sell Your Home
Inspection and appraisal in a tight timeline
During the inspection and appraisal steps of the home-selling process, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract if either report comes back with red flags.
Our timeline was tight: The buyer’s appraisal was due just eight days before closing. We didn’t want to sign a lease, move, and then have our buyer back out of the deal. So, to be prudent, we decided to wait until both the inspection and appraisal were done.
Paying rent plus a mortgage if the buyer backed out simply wasn’t in the cards. However, waiting to sign a lease until just over a week before the closing date was also a risk. The odds of finding a viable rental and moving in that tight time frame didn’t seem possible—but it’s the path we chose.
I attempted to calm my inner voice, and we plowed forward to find a new place to live. We started looking for a rental well before the appraisal date.
We’d listed our house at a reasonable price, so any discrepancies with the appraisal were a long shot. Though our house needed a little work, the inspection wasn’t likely to yield anything substantial.
All of the pieces came together, but we were prepared to undergo undue levels of stress as we waited for the final steps of the sale process. Especially since we were also planning a move.
Packing under pressure is a whole new level of torture
We both work full time and have two kids—a 3-year-old and a 13-year-old.
My husband and I began to pack the nonessentials once the offer came in. We still needed to purge unnecessary items and pack the rest, which is a trying task when four people have lived in one place for seven years. It’s amazing what you can accumulate.
We spent every spare minute packing up, tossing out, or giving away things. It was its own nightmare in an already stressful situation. Even though we knew it was a temporary inconvenience, the process was overwhelming. Packing is tough, but when the clock is ticking, it’s even tougher.
And just like that, it was over
The one big positive about a short timeline between offer and close? All of the chaos lasted only a short period of time.
Although my husband and I reached peak stress levels, the madness truly lasted for just over a month. By the third week in February, we were settled in our new rental home, and all was said and done with the sale of our first home.
Would I do it again? Yes! If the timing and the money were right, I most certainly would. Except for possibly the packing part.