What Makes the Biggest Impact on Buyers?

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

What Makes the Biggest Impact on Buyers?

Right on the Mark Renovation in Old Town Manassas

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to view a home in Old Town Manassas, off a little traveled, very short, one way side street.  My buyer has been looking for a home that is walkable to shops and has a main level master bedroom for her downsizing.  The big three story single famly home in the suburbs of Bristow is just overwhelming with her kids grown and gone.

It isn't often that we actually get a chance to tour the homes that she finds.  Most times, the homes are under contract within hours of hitting the MLS...if they last that long.  Either that, or they are out of the budget.  After all, Old Town Manassas is a sought after location. 

At first blush, we thought we had found "the one."  It was just the right size, impeccably updated and had loads of curb appeal.  For goodness sake, all I need to show you is this kitchen with the soft close, antique white cabinetry, granite counters and stainless steel appliances to get a feel for the place.

There was a detail overlooked.  The back yard.  Behind the one car garage was a pile of crap that you wouldn't have seen if you stopped at the garage.  You can almost not see it in the overgrown brush on the left of this photo, but there is a table with a pile of stuff on it.  The items are all indiscernable from time and weather.

Some of that pile of junk may have belonged to the property next door, which appeared to be condemned.  This picture from the back end looks a lot better than it appeared at the front.  But the windows were boarded up and the chain link fence brought in high and tight next to the property to keep intruders out.

And the fact that there may be intruders was evident on the front porch of the renovation we were visiting.  No detail should be overlooked when looking at a home with a buyer.  A discarded can of beer and take out container of food on the covered front porch was a likely clue that someone had been using the porch as a shelter at night.  A covered front porch at a vacant home, during the rainiest summer our area has known, is quite a nice shelter for someone without a home.

This perfectly pleasing, renovated home in Old Town Manassas just so happened to be on the other side of the tracks.  Not kidding.  It was just across the railroad tracks from the side of Old Town where our home search normally takes us.  There was only one other home on the short street that held to the standard of this renvoation.  The rest were either old and haggard at best, or unkempt and waiting to be condemned.


So what made the biggest impact on my buyer?  Was it the impeccable renovation with the finest finishes, or the junk and questionable activity occurring in the area?  My buyer had come to the conclusion, before I even arrived, that the junk and questionable activity of the area were setting off alarms in her head that have her continuing the house hunt.  

A decade or two from now, this little street will be a sought after location as investors gobble up these homes begging to be torn down and rebuilt.  What I know as an agent, representing a buyer that looked at the second renovation on this street, is that it was too early in the evolution of this area for my buyer to feel comfortable.  Particularly at the jacked up price the investor wants for this renovation.  Perhaps a little less flash inside to compensate for the things the investor can't do anything about, like the neighboring properties, so they can list at a more likely price for this particular location.  It is going to be a little while before this side of the tracks catches up to the other side of the tracks.  Location, location, location is still the most important thing when it comes to determining value.

Comments (8)

Alan Gross
PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company, Equal Housing Lender - Bethesda, MD
Loan Consultant

Was the table and the trash heap on the renovated property? If it was it's pretty stubid to fix the house and leave the yard behind the garage a mess.

Aug 03, 2018 11:29 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Alan Gross --It was hard to tell where the property line was.  It was close enough that if I were the renovator-owner, I would have volunteered to make off with the junk of the adjoining yard.  With the house being condemned and the stuff unrecognizable, I am sure no one would care.

Aug 03, 2018 11:33 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

This sounds like a house that will sit on the market for a long time, and then eventually the investor who most likely took out a hard-money loan with a balloon will begin to panic and either go into foreclosure or he / she will sell at a loss.

Aug 03, 2018 12:43 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents --They probably didn't leave themselves much of a margin to make the location less of an issue with all the high end finishes.

Aug 05, 2018 09:54 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Chris Ann- what a waste...a beautifully updated kitchen and then that backyard! What a disappointment. 

Aug 03, 2018 07:10 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Kathy Streib --I hope it doesn't sit too long.  It is a lovely home, but surrounded by less than stellar properties.

Aug 05, 2018 09:55 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Chris Ann I had a broker in Boston, MA he would do flips and he would make sure that he had permission from the neighbors to pain their house on the front and the side to make the neighborhood more appealing... and he sold the homes for top dollar... so why can not these guys get the same idea??Endre

Aug 03, 2018 11:35 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Endre Barath, Jr. --He may have painted the house across the street.  It looked nice for being so outdated.  As for the condemned one, what can you do but haul out that trash.  It would be a start.

Aug 05, 2018 09:56 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

That is a sad situation for that house, Chris Ann.  Neighborhoods are often lost one house at a time, when folks allow their property to decline, and it spreads through the community.  However, neighbrohoods can also rebound one house at a time.  But, it is very iffy, and it takes time.

Aug 04, 2018 02:36 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Myrl Jeffcoat --I went through the neighborhood where I grew up and saw some revitalization going on there.  But only on the block where we lived.  The rest of the neighborhood apparently continued to slide and never tried to correct that slide. That slide was one of the reasons we moved mom out.  The area just started to look trashy and in turn, attracted some nar do wells.

Aug 05, 2018 09:59 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Chris Ann, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Aug 04, 2018 02:37 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Thanks for the feature in your group.

Aug 05, 2018 09:59 AM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Chris Ann,

Great post and I would have to say ...

Curb appeal, great colors inside and out and clean looking ;o)

Aug 04, 2018 10:45 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Robert Vegas Bob Swetz --I kept thinking of that danged BPO question, "Do neighboring properties enhance or detract from subject's value?"  

Aug 05, 2018 10:00 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Chris Ann --- sometimes it's what can't be seen that makes the biggest impact.   

Aug 04, 2018 08:07 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

LIke whoever left their dinner and adult beverage on the porch Michael Jacobs .

Aug 05, 2018 10:00 AM