Beyond the Popcorn Ceiling: A Guide for Savvy Buyers

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Ok house hunters, what’s your strategy? Do you respond to an updated and staged home? Or are you able to look beyond? If you can have vision and be a little creative, you might come out on top and have the house of your dreams.

Many areas of the country are experiencing a surge of buying activity, with buyers competing against other buyers, presenting multiple offers to sellers and driving prices up 5%, 10% or even more above the list price. Despite this, there are some properties that are languishing on the market. Some have been on the market for more than a year (!) Yes, even in Seattle.

Buyers tired of competing with other buyers may be eyeing these homes as possible alternatives. But if scores of other buyers have bypassed these homes, should you stay away too?

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A multitude of home improvement shows have made the idea of purchasing something ugly and retrofitting to your unique tastes seem appealing – even easy! But before trying to determine if these languishing homes are really diamonds in the rough, it is important to review why homes in general don’t sell. Unless these problems are solved, if it is tough for someone else to sell, this could be your fate as well should you choose to purchase unless you plan to change the deterrent.

The home is overpriced. This is the easiest obstacle to overcome. Even the least desirable property will sell if it is priced right. The key is to widen the buyer pool as much as possible by lowering the price to what a buyer will pay. Before purchasing a property, it is important for the buyer’s agent to do a Comparative Market Analysis so the buyer will have an estimate of market value before purchasing. The last thing you want to do is overpay when buying.

Difficult floorplan. Is the master bedroom on the same floor as some of the other bedrooms? Is there only one bathroom for the whole house? Are the rooms small and poorly-lit? Floorplan challenges such as these may be easy to overcome with a remodel. It is important to do your due diligence first and determine a remodel is possible – and within your budget. Also, features such as a lot of stairs will keep certain buyer pools from considering the property (such as seniors or perhaps parents of young children) and may not be easily remedied by a remodel.

Exterior challenges. Are there power lines nearby? Is the home located beneath the flight path to the airport? Is the home located on or nearby a very busy street? Challenges such as these are not likely to be diminished between the time you purchase the property and need to resell. Therefore, if the home is located near something that others might find disturbing or a nuisance, this should be reflected in the price of the property to attract the largest buyer pool – both now and when it comes time to sell.

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Dated design. If the home is in a good location and everything else looks favorable, but the only thing holding you back is your revulsion to goldenrod shag carpet and aqua wallpaper, then you may be in luck! Changing paint and carpet are two of the simplest updates you can do to a home. If the rest of the “bones” look good (room layout, roof, etc), and the updates are strictly cosmetic, then you may have indeed found a diamond in the rough!

If you are not afraid to get your hands dirty and expend a little elbow grease or deal with a little inconvenience to get the home of your dreams, you may be richly rewarded! Contact me to find out how I can help you find those pretty diamonds.

Kathleen HouseComment