An incorrect address was given in a story in yesterday's Washington Post for a house offered for sale by owner Mira Luy. The correct address is 404 G St. SE.
A Fairfax County couple, unable to sell a $115,000 home through conventional channels, is rafflying it off at $100 a chance.
A Capitol Hill realtor, similarly frustrated, is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who puts here in touch with a successful buyer for her own $117,500 row house.
A Montgomery County family is living in a house they bought 15 months ago while their old house in the District remains unsold with an asking price of $249,000. To ease the back-bending burden of two monthly mortgage payments, they're about to make a large bank loan and use that money to finance the sale themselves.
These cases, while extreme in a sense, are not unusual at a time when growing numbers of would-be sellers are learning that they only way to move their houses is to help would-be buyers meet the rising cost of monthly mortgage payments.
"We have about 60 listings right now," said Arlis Simmons, the manager of the Shannon and Luchs Co. office in McLean, "and I would estimate that about one-third of those are without favorable, assumable financing or where an owner can accommodate a large portion of the financing.And those are the houses that are much more difficult to sell."
In "normal times," Simmons said, when interest rates are below 12 percent, "financing isn't that big a factor. People qualify without trouble. In those circumstances, it would be unusual to have even 5 percent of owners participating in financing."
A realtor with another agency shared Simmons' views. "It surely helps us to sell if you can do a wraparound or some other form of creative financing -- anything other than conventional terms," said Brian Logan of Long and Foster's Capitol Hill office. "People come in and say, 'Here's what I can afford to pay a month. What can I get?' It all comes down to how much per month."
The fundamental reason for "for sale" signs collecting dust at front doors before "sold" signs replace them is the continuing high price of mortgage money -- when it is available. Mortgage rates in the metropolitan area as of last week averaged 16 3/4 percent, with a high of 18 percent and a low of 15 percent, according to Peeke and Associates Inc., which monitors the local mortgage market. Furthermore, many savings and loan institutions in the area have simply stopped making loans.
"When you come down to brass tacks," said Anne Schwartz of Town and Country Realtors, "financing is number one."
John and Carilyn Redman learned the truth of that maxim during the four months their attrative Cape Cod-style house in the Kings Park West section of Fairfax County stood idle. And that's what led them to the idea of a raffle.
Redman, a patent agent in the Commerce Department, accepted a new job with the Army at Fort Monmouth, N.J., last February. The couple put the five-bedroom, brick house up for sale at $114,995. "We originally offered to hold back $30,000 at 13 percent," Redman said. "But that was the best we could do."
It wasn't enough. Early in May, a prospective buyer offered to put down a deposit of $1,500 and to rent for four months before closing. "He had written in four or five ways for getting out of the contract," Redman said. "We asked for an $8,000 deposit and the guy refused."
A few days later, a colleague stopped by Redman's desk and asked if he'd heard about a homeowner in Illinois who had successfully raffled off his house."I thought for a moment and suddenly the lights flashed on in my head. I said 'bingo!'"
Redman, 37, make a lot of quick phone calls. He learned that as an individual he could not hold a raffle. He needed a nonprofit organization. They led him to the Annandale Boys Club.
"The Boys Club had held raffles in the past," he said, "mostly for color TVs and that sort of thing." Redman proposed to club president Ev Germain that the organization sell a maximum of 2,000 chances at $100 apiece. If all $200,000 worth were to be sold, the Redmans would receive $115,000, the Boy Club would make $85,000, and some lucky person would win a house for $100. Germain bought the idea.
The tickets went on sale at the club a little over a week ago. Paul Kelly, who is conducting the raffle, said he has sold about 600 so far and is currently selling about 40 a day. He said he has to return calls from another 400 people.
The drawing will be held Labor Day. If an insufficient number of tickets are sold, however, the club will return the checks, Redman said, "and we'll have to find another way to sell our home."
Mira Luy is trying another way. A former congressional aide who has been selling real estate for the last three years, Luy has had her own row house at 400 G St. NW on the market for two months without any takers. Now she's passing out leaflets offering a reward.
"I wasn't having any success with my ads in the paper," Luy said. "In all fairness, I realize that you can't say much in a four-line ad. So, I wrote a leaflet explaining the house and offering a $1,000 referral fee for a qualified buyer at settlement."
Luy said that she has passed out 500 leaflets so far and drew three contracts -- none of which went through because of mortgage qualification problems. So, she wrote a new batch of leaflets, offering to put $3,600 in an escrow account for a qualifed buyer to use toward the purchase.
Her latest leaflets offer a "buydown" to 14 1/2 percent. She said this meant that for two or three years she would pay a lending institution the difference between the rate at which it lends mortgage money to whoever buys her house and the 14 1/2 percent figure, which is below the lowest rate available in the metropolitan area. And the $1,000 reward offer still stands. a
Perhaps a more serious housing horror story is that of the family that bought a new house in Montgomery County in December 1979 -- before selling their old home in Northwest Washington. "We did it because we just knew that we'd have no trouble welling," said the husband, who asked that his name not be used. Noting that a similar, large, older colonial house across the street in the desirable neighborhood had recently sold for $285,000, they put theirs on the market for $289,000.
Now, 15 months and four real estate agents later, the asking price is $249,000 and still no buyer. "Financing is the problem," the sadder and wiser husband said. "People will buy only when the owner can take back a second trust or there's a large, assumable mortgage. Since that's not our situation, we're going to take out a large, personal loan and do the financing ourselves. It's going to take us years to climb out of the hole we're in."
Washington artist Vint Lawrence finds himself in a similar position. Last Labor Day, shortly after he and his wife were divorced, Lawrence put his comfortable, six-bedroom house with a custom-designed studio and a meticulously tended garden in the Cleveland Park section of the city up for sale at $345,000. Two other houses of similar layout and vintage on the same tree-shaded street had sold in that price range in the preceding year, so Lawrence reasoned he'd have no problems.
The house has still not sold, even though he's lowered the price to $3l5,000, and Lawrence is considering moving back in or renting.
"There is one woman who wants to rent for a while," he said. "She'd like to put down a deposit and live in the house, holding off settlement until money is easier. I'm willing to do that, but she's having trouble getting rid of her own house first."