The Oxymoronic, Disparate and Juxtaposed Home -- What's a buyer and seller to do?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Olsen Ziegler Realty

Okay, that was exactly a cohesive or exact description of the way to compare what in blazes exists inside the frame-wrapped facade of a home versus the outside, but this week I showed quite a few homes, and quite a few properties made my head hurt and ended up leaving me perplexed.

I guess one could look at it as a permutation of what a buyer could expect when viewing a property:

  • Fabulous inside and neglected outside
  • Neglected inside and fabulous outside
  • Fabulous inside and outside
  • Neglected inside and out

The purpose of this post is not bullets 3 and 4, but the juxtaposition of the first two.

I saw a fabulously renovated home on the inside and the outside was closer to abandonment than even trying to remotely stretch it as deferred maintenance.

I saw another home with architectural delight, exterior curb appear oozing and floating everywhere, creating excitement, expectation and anticipation, only to get hit by a mack truck after two steps inside.

Granted, these are not your most common scenarios, the equilibrium that is more prevalent with the majority of homes are easier to sift through.

It made me ponder (but not too long, looking at a lot of homes can easily wear one down, but on the way home I couldn't stop wondering:

  • Is the seller in financial distress to allow such an extreme divide between in and out?
  • Perhaps the seller prescribes to the philosophy that: 90% of the time, people live in the inside and simply hit the garage remote closed and don't see/go outside until the next day and the outside really doesn't matter and that the strength of the inside condition will outweigh the detached garage which appears to be imploding, gutters falling off, grass 8" high, weeds galore, junk laying around all over the place, and pervasive disarry. 
  • Perhaps the seller thinks those new Uba Tuba granite countertops will cause the buyer not to notice that the MASSIVE amount of work on the outside really doesn't matter.
  • Perhaps the flipside is true.  That HGTV Curb Appeal was the last show watched and the seller figured, no one watches "Designed to Sell" anymore.
  • Perhaps the seller hasn't been properly advised and truly doesn't see this paradox?

It's disheartening to see, as the seller is oftentimes 50-75% of the way to having a totally fabulous home and the Return on Investment (ROI) for monies already spent has been greatly diluted by the lack of at least trying to narrow the gap of disharmony a bit.  When it's the outside, there are so many people (firefighters, laborers, landscaping assistants) that are either unemployed or underemployed, let alone the ability of the owner to perhaps throw a big pizza parties for good friends/family and do at least a cosmetic makeover for a long weekend, etc., to bridge the gap and not only help the home look more balanced, but help protect the seller's financial bottom line.

I know there is serious financial distress out there.  But when you see exotic/rare cars in the driveway, 90 inch plasma TVs that fill a room, let alone a massive amount of newer electronics, etc., it's not about lack of funds in some cases. 

Also, these thoughts are not necessarily relevant for markets with a large % of distressed inventory, where it's not going to make a dent.  I'm talking about our local, Greater Cleveland market where doing some of these things can make the difference between failure and success and when successful, the difference between netting more money at the closing table, versus fattening the wallet of the buyer.

After all, increasing your market value is about making your home appeal to the greatest number of buyers.

There is an old saying: You can pay me now, or you can pay me later, but either way, you are going to pay me.  When it comes to real estate in Greater Cleveland: a dollar invested in condtion upgrades is a better investment than a dollar reduced from the asking price due to the high levels of inventory and knowing what is selling and why, as well as what is not selling and why not.  Want a buyer, think like a buyer.

It's a crazy market out there.


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George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Chris I stop by a lot of Open Houses, and I have gone to a few that I just sit there wondering what the homeowner was thinking.  And "juxtaposition" is a pretty good word to try describe them.

Aug 29, 2010 02:45 PM #1
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Chris, those homes do sound odd!!  I have never quite experienced something like that.  I did see a home that was purchased as a foreclosure for $125K..."remodeled" and then listed for $199K.  From the looked good. In person, however, you could tell the people who remodeled it did not know what they were doing.  I showed it and I agreed with my was worth about $125K.

Aug 29, 2010 03:57 PM #2
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hey George -- Real estate is anything but dull.

Hey Sonja -- Yea, proofs in the pudding, no substitute for a hands-on visit.  Sure glad I was that investor!

Aug 30, 2010 04:24 PM #3
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Chris Olsen

Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate
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