What makes a home unsellable? Is it location? Bad construction? Maybe it survived that recent flood in the area? For whatever reason, some homes are just not as loved as others. And still, at some point, you'll be faced with having to sell the unsellable. With that daunting prospect ahead, here are some tips to help you conquer your fear and maybe even become the regional house whisperer! Let's review...
It's all about the options
You may assume that you have fewer options with an undesirable listing, but actually, you may have more. Think about it... if your listing was like every other listing, you'd be locked with the same tools everyone else has. But working with an outlier product on the fringe, you actually have more outlier options and fringe prospects to market to. Let's explore...
Price: Okay, first the easy one. As you know, there are three main components to selling a house: location, condition, and price. In the case of an undesirable home, price may be your best weapon. Convincing the seller to drop the price even slightly can bring in more potential buyers and hopefully lead to an offer. Pricing a home at just 3%-5% under market value can make a home much more attractive, especially for investors or first-time buyers. The truth is, even the most nightmarish home will sell if the price is right. Of course, a rapid sale may not be your goal. If you've got time on your hands, here are some other ways to attract the best buyer for you and/or your client...
Improvements: If the home itself looks like a train wreck, do all you can to give it a facelift. While that goes without saying, one thing you could really help yourself with is permission to take the time and money to do so (and fast). Most agents will understandably get stuck between "want" (little work with maximized ROI) and "need" (a bit of work to get maximized ROI). While you're waiting for that fish to bite the empty hook, you could have been baiting the hook. So... consider what you want and what your heart tells you-you need to do... then commit to that wholeheartedly. Rip off that band-aid. Get any fire damage looked at. Redo those floors (maybe even the foundation), fumigate and deodorize. Don't wait three months mulling over it... just do it (or not)... the key here is don't waste your time mulling it over if you're going to arrive at that conclusion anyway.
Focus: It seems obvious, but many agents get hung up on the sore spot. You've honed your craft to identify such things as quickly as possible, but don't let this skill weaken your game. Like poker, you're sometimes dealt a so-so hand... but how you respond will affect your next move. Focus on the positives. Show off the amenities in the area, the great view from the dining room or the easy connection to the city. Help potential buyers to visualize what could be instead of what is. You could even have the neighbors come in and talk up how much they love the neighborhood, how it’s a close-knit community, how you’ll get used to the noise, etc. Certainly, you don't want to hide aspects of the home... but some things may not matter as much to your buyer, so don't focus in on them.
Marketing: When trying to sell an undesirable home, it pays to get a little creative with your marketing. You might repackage it as a rental investment, where the buyer immediately fills the place with a renter and one-year lease. Alternatively, you could market it as a flipper or fixer-upper. Remember that some buyers are looking for the perfect HGTV home, others are looking for a bargain and others still are seeking a challenge. There are some buyers out there who love the idea of a project -- it’s your job now to find those ones. At the same time, make sure all of your marketing materials are on-point, with sharp images taken from the best angles. It will increase your chances of getting people in the door.
Dig deeper, get creative
Up to now, we've looked at the property, but as many reasons as there are to build a home, there are just as many reasons to buy a home. Even if you're the multi-family, single-floor residential specialist in the area, your buyers likely do not all fit the same stringent mold. Some may be looking for their fourth home (or their first). Others may want the extra rooms for guests while others need every inch of space for their growing family. They may even be purchasing the home for an elder member of their family who is actively seeking a simple cottage near their family. This is all to emphasize that the buyers you've been targeting are quite diverse (and this diversity is going to help you move hard-to-sell properties).
You've been trained from early in your career to go after the bigger prospect markets (right now, this is likely Millennials and Baby-Boomers - which represent the lion's share of the buyer market demographic). So, it's no surprise if your fringe listing is a fringe outlier - embrace it! You might just save yourself a lot of time and headache if you let go of your default market approach and actually target the fringe market first (not as a secondary consideration). Every property is different, so we can't say what that approach might be, but here are just a few tips for fringe use marketing...
- Explore the area: If the home is rural, check the surrounding tracts of land and see if you can build/sell the story of a hobby farm waiting to happen
- Research the zoning: The property might provide multi-use functionality for a small business - in this economy, that alone could be the highlight
- Check the grapevine: If the property is really on the outs, look into city projects on the books for the area - this might be tomorrow's investor gem
Finally, take it in stride
The dirty work of this type of sale can be a real drag. Maintaining a good attitude can help you keep your sanity and, who knows, you may even point to it later as a sign of your marketing mastery! Try switching your mindset from “This is a disaster home - I’ll never sell it,” to “This isn’t like my other listings, but all I have to do is move it and make my client happy.” Something positive may even come of it. Perhaps this disaster home is in an otherwise desirable area, allowing you to break into a new market. Play it well and it could mean future clients. There’s no doubt you’ll feel like a superstar once you’ve sold the place.
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