One of an agent’s biggest jobs is spotting and interpreting the signs that point to the right transaction or deal. When it comes to reading people, things can be easy because eventually they’ll tell you what you need to know.
Unfortunately listings don’t… but what if they did? What if they’d tell you what you were dealing with on the rider outside of the home? I’d imagine they would (or do) read a little like this…
1. By Appointment Only (And Good Luck With That)
Those ‘By Appointment Only’ riders don’t seem to be too terrible at a glance, and they’re not in most cases – especially when they give the sellers the chance to scrape up the oatmeal their toddler just plastered on the wall, clean up their bedrooms and vacate the premises so the buyer and the property can have some alone time.
But then there are those sellers who need 4 days’ notice, can only show their home on Wednesdays between 1 and 1:20 and Thursday after 10:15 pm, required 3 reminder calls and, because they refuse to put a lockbox on the house, want the buyer’s broker to knock three times and give a whippoorwill call before entering. This is the group whose listed homes should bear this fantasy sign rider.
2. Flexible Zoning: Lawn Parking Allowed
Flexibly zoned neighborhoods are fantastic for those who want to build another unit or have a little urban farm. The challenge with flexible zoning is that your neighbors’ “dream” uses are also allowed – and they might not exactly line up with your client’s idea of an idyllic, semi-rural setting.
Some of the other sorts of folks attracted to flexible zoning find it suits them because they need space for their 20 ‘vintage’ automobiles – space to stores them for the 10 years until they retire and have time to fix them up. That might become a challenge with the makeshift chop shop spot is the neighbors’ front yard.
3. Wildly Overpriced
4. Looooooooooong Sale
Part of buyers’ outrage at the concept of a short sale is the paradoxical, misleading nature of the transactional name. Nothing about a short sale is short, except the amount of proceeds the seller will have to payoff their mortgage. I wonder if buyers would be a little less outraged if we flipped the script and went in the direction of extreme truth in advertising? Maybe some bold listing agent will one day change all their short sale riders to be upfront about the “loooooooong” length of the escrow that is part of the trade off for low, short sale pricing.
5. Unnatural Lighting Galore
Ever watch a house hunting reality show on TV? Seems like every buyer’s dream is a home with more windows than walls, the better to let in beams of natural light. Unfortunately, in some eras, windows were costly and thought to make a home harder to cool and heat. Additionally, homes with additions or much reconfiguring done over the years can end up with bathrooms and kitchens that lack windows and even ventilation.
In homes like these, where fluorescents rule the day, the more accurate way to describe the situation might be ‘Unnatural Lighting Galore.’
6. Down and Going Neighborhood
“Up-and-coming neighborhood.” Is that label a blessing or a curse? That’s situation-specific, as it does hold the promise of a value-priced home that will be worth more in the future, based on the hope that the area is already on track to overcome its stigma. But the truth is, sometimes areas don’t really come “up” for a decade or two after people start calling it ‘up and coming.’ Other times, up and coming neighborhood is really just a pretext for charging more than the comparables – much more, in some cases.
But what about those neighborhoods that used to be nice, but have taken a hit by the recession, or the construction of a big mega-mart smack in the heart of the area? Sure would be nice (albeit unlikely) if sellers would flag this for buyers, with one of these riders.
7. Basement Flooding → Underground Pool!
Just last week I showed a home which had been the subject of multiple pre-listing inspections. The reports mentioned standing water in the crawl space, and I was on a mission to see precisely what the inspectors meant. I searched high and low and couldn’t find a door to the basement, but finally managed to use my fingernails to pry up a floorboard hatch in the entryway coat closet. And lo and behold, I found myself face to face with a few feet of standing water – in California, mind you. Weeks after the last rain.
To be a great agent for a long time, you’ve got to be an optimist. But there is a line beyond which looking on the bright side can border on flirting with delusion. As I was discussing the property and our viewing with my clients, there was nothing else to do to but to have fun with the situation, so I mentioned the underground pool – laughs were had, all around. Here’s to truth-telling and staying on the right side of the optimism/delusion line, my friends!