Contacting contractor to buy our house? (Long)

(This is posted to both misc.consumers.house and alt.home.repair, but not X-posted. )
Last summer, a neighbor sold his house to a contractor. The house went down in November, and a new larger home is going up in its place. The shell is completed (they finished siding yesterday), and there's been HVAC, electrical, and plumbing contractors in and out for the past week. It should be ready for sale within 6 weeks or so. During the old house knock-down, DH spoke to the President of the contracting company about whether they'd be interested in doing the same for our property, as we're moving in June. The Prez said they could be interested, but wouldn't do anything until the one down the street is finished. Since it's nearing completion, DH and I would like to write a letter to the contractor, include a photocopy of our plot plans so he has an idea of lot size, and let them know that we're still interested in a sale. I'm looking for information on the best way to write the letter... what to say (or not) that would get the contractor interested.
Some general info:
The house down the street sold for $310K. (It was rather small, no additions... which is unusual for this neighborhood. Also needed some work.) Houses in this neighborhood have been selling at $350-400K (and inching higher) for the past two years, and on the other side of town, prices are much steeper... in the $600K+ range. (Those houses are more McMansion-y, while my neighborhood is 3-4 bedroom Capes). We'd be happy with $320K (and our lot is much bigger than down the street). We're in a town about 15 miles west of Boston.
Contractor told DH in November that they're planning on listing the new house down the street at $550-600K. I can't wait to see how quickly it sells, and the final price.
We'd like to avoid the whole "showing the house" thing with a realtor. We've got 4 big dogs, and two of them don't like the two others, so they have to be separated. We've also got one car. If a realtor came by with a prospective buyer, we'd have to take two dogs out in the car, and I dunno... walk the other two? (Leaving any dogs here alone with strangers isn't an option.) And add three kids into the mix, as well. It would just be easier to sell privately than deal with the house-showing mess.
If we sold directly to the contractor, we wouldn't need to bother with a realtor, and the associated fees. All we would need is a lawyer. Also, since he's knocking the house down, there's no worries that new owners might sue later for "problems."
We bought our house as a "fixer-upper." We've done a lot of work to it, but there's still more to be done before we'd be ready to sell it through a realtor. If we went with a realtor, our asking price would probably be more like $350K+ (but that profit would be negated by the realtor's fees and the time/money spent on repairs). If we sold to the contractor, we wouldn't have to bother with the rest of the repairs, since the house would be demolished.
We want to be out by June. If we use a realtor, there's no guarantee that the house would sell quickly enough, which would throw a wrench into our moving plans. We're moving to Alaska, and want enough time over the summer for the cross-country drive and house-hunting there.
So, the letter writing? I plan to emphasize that our lot is bigger (as is our house, compared to the one knocked down), and that we're willing to move quickly. I'd like to mention the "realtor problems" WRT our dogs, as well as repairs still needed. But I'm not sure if the dog thing would sound too personal and not professional enough (I'm shooting for "business-like" writing, not "chatty.") And if I discuss areas to repair, I'm worried that (should the contractor decline and we're forced to go with a realtor) there's now written disclosure of problems.
Any suggestions?
Cina
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Essencially, the contractor paid 310k for the land only. Whatever condition your house is in, or what you've done to it is meaningless to them.
IF the contractor thinks you're egar to sell you're giving him the upper hand. He probably looks for homes listed as fixer-upper or handyman special so I'd just go ahead and put it on the market for what you think the house is worth as a HOME and specifically tell the listing agent it needs work and to list it as such.
That way the contractor comes to you, and if that doesn't pan out you can sell it as-is conventionally.
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HA HA Budys Here wrote:

Good point. I had been thinking of the value of the house + lot, and if I go with the contractor route, I should consider what the land itself is worth, as well as knock-down costs. The "eagerness" issue is something I'll have to work on... how to appear interested, but not too interested.

If things don't work out with the contractor, this is probably what we'll do. I was just hoping to avoid the hassles of house showing, the fees, and the uncertainty of a slow sale/buyers backing out (or other awful scenarios I see posted about on Usenet).
Thanks for your help.
Cina
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Cina wrote:

when you say they tore the old house down)....in my area the large lots on some of these places are in old parts of town... very small houses and a couple of acres... now all the people with money who can afford a nice place want this area and they are buying those smaller/older homes to get the land and demolish it and put up a nice big two story mini mansion on the larger lots... call up a local realestate agent and see if you can get any idea of what your place will be worth(remember its the land they are after).... dont tell them about what the contractor told you or such...... see if they can even get a higher price.......
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jim wrote:

This happens a lot in a few towns in my area, as well. Just a few miles closer toward Boston, and there's houses selling for $800K+ only to be knocked down. I've heard a few house-selling stories from friends, and it always astounds me.

Good idea! I know which agent was involved with the neighboring house; perhaps I'll give her a call and see what she says. I wonder, though... if we go through an agent for something like this, would they charge their usual fees?
Thanks for your suggestions.
Cina
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this interesting note:

Talk with the contractor. Don't mention the dogs or anything about the house itself since the contractor is buying the lot, not the structures on it.
Figure what you might reasonably get from selling the house through a realtor. Knock 10 to 15 percent off that to figure what your share of the proceeds might be if you sold through a realtor. For example, if you sold the house for $350,000.00 you could realistically expect to see only about $315,000.00 (possibly less) since selling through a realtor can eat up about ten percent (or more) of the proceeds of the sale.
See if the contractor is interested in your property at $325,000.00. That builds in negotiation room. In your position of needing to sell soon, if you have an interested, serious buyer, it is worth something to you to sell sooner rather than later, so being willing to drop down to the $310,000.00 to $300,000.00 range would go a long way to getting the deal done.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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John Willis wrote:

Good advice, thank you. I don't have much else to add... you've explained it fairly well.
Cina
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If you sell to the contractor you will be selling it wholesale. Why not fix it up yourself (with the help of contractors) and pocket the extra money. At the least I would up the house up for sale in the newspaper and see what happens. I know lots of people who priced their house to sell and sold it in one or two weekends. Not much fuss considering you will be making thousands extra over selling it this contractor.
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houseslave wrote:

Honestly, we're sick of this house. We've been (slowly) working on it for about 8 years, and have sunk an obscene amount of time and money into it. We're completely tapped out in the money department, and the whole working-on-the-house-every-weekend thing is grinding us down mentally and emotionally. We can't afford to hire contractors.
As for the extra money to be made... as long as we get something in the $310-320K range, we'd be happy. We're far more interested in moving out now than staying a few more months fixing the house, even if it means more money to stay. (I hate this area... too crowded for me, too much traffic, malls everywhere. If I don't move back to a rural environment soon, I'll go insane.)
If the contractor decides he's not interested, we may go the FSBO route. If it comes to that, I'm sure I'll be back here asking for more advice.
Thanks!
Cina
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