No matter how ugly, obsolete, or smelly a house may be, a buyer is out there somewhere. My job, if I choose to accept the listing, is to find that buyer!
I was reading Patricia Kennedy's post this morning, Too Bad They Couldn't Stage The Neighbor's Yard, and I thought about all the listings I've sold IN SPITE OF something that seemed like a huge obstacle. The one I mentioned in my comment to her post was a lovely home with a next-door neighbor who had four junk cars lined up in the front yard. The buyer didn't seem to be bothered by this, and I soon discovered why - their yard didn't look much better, within months of occupying the home. Something I find undesirable about a property may be the very thing that appeals to the "right" buyer!
Some agents walk away from listing a home that seems to have "fatal flaws" - but I consider it a challenge. Anybody can sell a clean, neutral, uncluttered, staged and priced-right home that is in good repair. I can sell any home - even homes that are ugly, obsolete and smelly! The trick is to identify likely buyers for the flawed property, and target your marketing to them. Here are some examples:
"If you have allergies, I have a home for you! Original owner says no pets or smokers ever lived in this Crofton colonial." (Red, red, red - in every room!)
Folks, I have a red room in my house - my one big daring attempt to add color in an otherwise neutral home. However, I once had a listing that was red throughout. I mean red! Red walls and/or red carpet everywhere - completely violating the warning that "neutral sells". Would you be surprised to know it sold the first week?
The buyer was looking for a home they could verify as pet-free since day 1, because of their child's severe allergy to pets. Painting the walls and changing the carpet was a small price to pay for their child's health! My MLS remarks described the only thing I could think of that might make this home desirable.
"This home is no cookie-cutter. If you're tired of all the look-alike subdivision homes, you might like this. It may even remind you of home." (No curb appeal and functionally obsolete inside.)
This Annapolis home had ZERO curb appeal, without a single shrub or bush. While the house was clean, neutral, and in good repair, it was functionally obsolete. The bedrooms and one bath were on different levels, the clothes washer and dryer were in different rooms, and the biggest room in the house was the kitchen. There was a big screened porch which would get a lot of use in the summer, since there was no air conditioning - almost unheard of in this area.
According to three agents who wrote offers on this property in the first week (in a buyer's market), the MLS remarks triggered thoughts of a buyer they had previously worked with, and all three offers netted my client within $500 of each other. The "winning" buyer was thrilled with the home, and said it did remind her of the house where she grew up.
"Your animals will LOVE the fenced two acres that comes with this pet-friendly Gambrills home. Plenty of room for the humans in your family, too, with 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, a nanny suite, and more." (Take a deep breath before you go inside because the pet odor will knock you over!)
I thought I would pass out at the listing appointment because the pet odor was so overwhelming. But it was a huge lot and home, and the seller had been one of my agents when I was a Coldwell Banker manager. She knew she had a problem property, and she was counting on me to sell it.
I decided to focus my marketing towards pet-owners for this Gambrills home, thinking they might be less offended by the odor than others. Sure enough, in a market similar to this, a buyer who wanted the pet-friendly yard and house came along and paid top-dollar. When I stopped by to deliver a Christmas poinsettia the following year, it turned out they had more animals than the seller did... and the odor was still awful.
There are many reasons for walking away from a listing, and all of these homes tempted me to do just that. Fortunately, I didn't, because there IS a buyer for every home.
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