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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How To Get Multiple Offers: Anatomy Of A Successful Sale

When we published a list yesterday of all the sellers in Marin who sold their houses above the asking prices last month, it raised a lot of questions. Well, one question, mainly: How did they manage that?

Easy. They did everything right. Of course, you can too. Here's a blueprint to follow, a case study of how the owners of one Mill Valley house flawlessly played their hand and got $1.835 million for a house they listed at $1.795 million:

1. LOCATION, OF COURSE. The 1,021 sq ft bungalow (built in 1946) that the owners bought in 2005 at 74 Nelson (for $850,000) may have been situated on one of the more modest blocks in Mill Valley's family-trendy Sycamore Park neighborhood, but it had one exceptional plus: the lot is adjacent to a popular vest-pocket neighborhood park. It's also an easy walk to Park El
ementary School, Mill Valley Middle School and Tamalpais High School.

2. GET THE RIGHT ARCHITECT. Barbara Chambers, one of Marin's most versatile architects, designed a new, slightly bigger two-story house (1,200 sq ft) that somehow managed to incorporate an open first-floor floorplan, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a second-floor family room into that relatively small amount of space. The result was a house sited ingeniously on the lot, facing the street but with a "front" entry on the side of the building.

The exterior, in fact, greatly resembles Chambers' own, larger house a few blocks away, with a two-car garage topped by window boxes facing the street. (See photo, right)

3. KNOW YOUR MARKET. The new floorplan, with three second-floor bedrooms that opened off a central family room, was ideal for a young family. So was the gate in the backyard fence that leads directly to the park and playground behind the property. The Sunday open house a few days after 74 Nelson went on the market attracted a steady stream of young couples, prospective buyers in SUVs outfitted with infant seats.

3. THE PRICE IS RIGHT. The sellers priced 74 Nelson, in mint condition, at $1.795 million, significantly lower than the recent sale prices of two other slightly larger, and lived in, houses a few blocks away—81 Sycamore (sold for $2.185 million in November 2007) and 95 Sycamore (sold for $2.3 million, also in November 2007). Within days of the Sunday open house, they entertained multiple offers. In the end, the house sold for $40,000 above asking, after a mere 31 days on the market at a time when 74 days on the market is the average in Marin.

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