Once upon a time there was an old house. This old house had been left alone for some time.
While it was not abandoned, its owners were unable to give it all the care that was required. Grass grew too long, brambles grew too thick. Windows that once gleamed in the sunlight took on a hazy emptiness.
Inside, the once vibrant farm kitchen was tired, aged, and in need of a revival. Attempts to modernize from the top down were halted leaving bedrooms upstairs ready with anticipation of fresh paint and new carpets that didn't materialize.
Though old, though empty, though a little rough around the edges, the house yearned to once again be a home. The beautiful woodwork - a sign of the craftsmanship of a bygone era - awaits a good cleaning and eager feet upon the staircase, young fingers gripping the banister. The front porch needs a pair of rockers and a glider...and someone to sip iced tea under its shady roof.
The listing agent was excited - surely others would jump at the chance to grab this home and rejuvenate it. It was priced well below the comparables. It was in a good school district. It had "good bones." All it needed was someone with vision to see the potential.
Several agents came to show it and left oh, so quickly.
One winter showing yielded feedback of "The house needs way too much work for my buyers." When asked if they saw how nice the upstairs was -mostly finished!- and how big the kitchen was, the agent merely shook his head and said "It wouldn't work." The next day the listing agent went out to take new pictures of the property and noted there were no tire tracks in the snowy driveway but hers; there were no other footprints in the snow leading to the home. The agent didn't even bother to take them inside. (But indicated that they did, and his attitude was such that the home was "worthless" and a "tear-down.")
You can't always judge how much work a home needs merely by the outside appearance. Remember that old adage, about books and covers and all.
Two more agents showed the house. One came out of the house with her clients after spending less than 3 minutes inside, muttering under her breath "That house is creepy, I could never live there!" This agent also came completely unprepared to even explain the property boundaries or features of the property to her clients. She wasn't there to sell anything, she was wasting everyone's time.
The second agent, however, took time with his clients. They went over the details of the home - hidden behind the superficial - they saw how solidly the house sat on the foundation. They noted the fine woodwork, the wood floors, the large rooms. They were guided by their agent to see the potential. Their agent sent them comparable properties that had been renovated, so they could see the future value. Their agent sent them comparable properties so they could see how competively this home was priced, compared to others in similar condition with similar features.
We as agents aren't here to project our feelings onto a property based on our tastes, our standards, our superficial judgements. Our job is to help buyers find the right property - that's right for them, and to advise them with comparable properties on whether it's priced appropriately or not.
Some properties simply will not work; that is true. Some properties do require a lot more work than buyers want to put into it. That is true as well. But sometimes - it takes more than a cursory glance and a snap judgement based on the age of the siding or the depth of the grass in the yard.
It is also our job to educate our buyers on what their expectations should be in a particular price range. You can't go looking at bargain basement prices expecting a like-new home.
You as an agent need to look at the whole picture of what is being offered - property, location, condition and how well it will work for your buyers. Dismissing a home that is essentially solid as a "teardown" merely because of old siding, overgrown grass, and a few broken windows is absurd.
It is not about what you as an individual feel. Nobody really cares if you would live there or not - you're not the buyer. And chances are, you are not a builder, or a home inspector, or an engineer. So you need to be careful about what you convey to your buyers.
This job requires an open mind, flexibility, and vision.
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