Selling the un-sellable house
This post is brought to you by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. All opinions are my own.
I’ve heard the cliche so many times it’s starting to get annoying: “The most important thing about selling a house is location, location, location!”
It wouldn’t be a cliché if it wasn’t true.
Try selling a house in a small town in Kansas. A town so small, it is 25 minutes from the closest grocery store and anything convenient. The town doesn’t even have stoplights!
Now try selling that same house, in that same tiny town, but in need of a ton of work and updates.
Welcome to my mother’s nightmare! Have you been there, too?
Let me tell you a little bit about my mom’s journey with this house: This house was an amazing blessing for her when she bought it in 1993. Two years after buying the house, my youngest sister was born — making it five children in a four-bedroom home! After my parents divorced, it was a single mother of five children in the home.
She worked tirelessly to pay for the home, the school, the food and medical costs of her children. My mom worked around doctor appointments, school plays and church functions. Somehow, she surrounded herself with friends that helped with house issues. As amazing and hardworking as my mom is, mechanics is not her strength!
Honestly, she took care of it the best she could. She pinched pennies and invested in the important repairs. But the house today — 22 years later — is quite a “fixer upper.” And it’s in a “one-horse town.” The biggest issue, according to my mom, is that the unfinished basement still gets water in it during heavy rains. It doesn’t flood, but it becomes damp and wet. And she’s hired people to try and fix this issue before.
I chatted Redfin Agent Sabrina Booth for some home selling advice for my mom. Here are some great tips and insights from our conversation:
What is one thing someone can do to help their house sell in a not-so-amazing location?
“I feel that every home has its virtues, and there are often things that will compensate to make up the difference if a home doesn’t have an ideal location. This is often reflected in price, a buyer may save money by buying a home that is not in a location where everyone wants to be and thus the prices are driven up by the competition. When a seller can share what they like about the location, something that made it attractive to them, then a buyer may see it in a more positive light. For instance, a seller may share that they love the location because the neighbors are amazing: everyone is friendly and looks out for each other, babysits their kids, block parties in the summer. Sharing their personal experience about the location and why they like it can overcome a buyer’s concern or hesitancy. Maybe pointing out other benefits like an easy commute or a nearby park or attraction can also help a buyer see the upside of a location. Cost of ownership can be a big factor; i.e. it costs less to live under the power lines or near the airport than it does to live on a quiet cul de sac in a gated community.
What are the most important repairs you should never ignore?
“Definitely the things that people see when they first approach the home and walk inside: peeling exterior paint, damaged or rotten wood on the front porch and fascia boards, a beat up front door, cracked windows and landscaping. These are things that a buyer notices right away and set the tone for the buyer’s impression of the home. It’s important to lend an impression that the home has been well maintained and cared for and won’t cost the buyer a lot of money for maintenance and repairs right off the bat.”
If a house isn’t selling, how long would you take it off the market before trying again?
“I recommend at least 90 days to reset the cumulative days on market in the MLS, and to check the current market data before relisting to make sure that the conditions support the price.”