How to Market Difficult Properties – Five Challenges, Five Solutions

Ok, you have been in real estate long enough to have endured a few listings that you would
rather NOT have landed. Let’s call them ugly ducklings, shall we? Now, how do you market them? Here’s how you can invite people to recognize their potential and help the homebuyer see them as a swan! In the same way we make lemonade when life deals lemons, you can find something good about any property – no matter how flat it may seem at first glance.

It’s not just tiny homes or homes “out-of-step” with the neighborhood that need special care. In fact, I’ve helped market multi-million dollar listings with bedrooms that left me astounded.

“THAT is the master bedroom? The bedroom in my first apartment was nicer!” My solution? I don’t mention the master bedroom. Instead, I highlight the triple-sized whirlpool with adjustable jet streams in the master bathroom with the marble steps and the heated towel racks. Accentuate the positive and simply ignore the negative.

In smaller, less dramatic homes, you may need to create positives by altering your potential buyer’s perspective. You may not have the luxury of ignoring difficult features. And, it’s not a matter of sticking the term “handyman’s dream” or “fixer-upper” on it and calling the marketing plan complete. Nor, is it convincing the seller to list it below market value, so you have a chance of turning it over quickly.

Remember, every home has something charming about it. It’s your job to find that “something” and frame it attractively for display through your marketing approach. Here are a few tips to do just that:

Kitchen Too Small?

If the house has a closet-sized kitchen, don’t try to appeal to the family market. Instead, go for a marketing sweep to pull in professional singles. Make the kitchen a drawing point, not a draw-back. Consider…

“You often have business meetings that run late, you eat out most nights. What you want is more space to live, you need space to relax and unwind. This home’s efficiency-sized kitchen gains you living space while retaining the convenience of cooking at home when you don’t want to go out or order in.”

No storage space?

Find a blank wall in the living area of the home and comment that this unbroken expanse of wall is the perfect backdrop for modern, customized sectional storage units (think about the ultra-cool – and ultra expensive – units available through places like Levenger). Invite buyers to design their own personal storage space.

Or, discuss how the architecture of an older or historical home creates a certain ambiance and how beautiful (and consistent with the period) an antique armoire would be as a closet in a bedroom – the same type the original owner may have used. There’s no need to mention that this particular bedroom has no closet at all.

Too-small bedroom?

Is one of the bedrooms too small for anything larger than a cramped twin-sized bed? Call it a luxury-sized walk-in closet, adjacent to the main bathroom.

Sell it as the perfect office nook or personal multimedia room. Just encourage them to think of a large, comfortable leather chair and ottoman facing a bank of shelves which house a large plasma monitor with theatre surround sound satellite speakers – all personalized and made luxurious because it’s custom tailored for ONE. (How extravagant!)

Call it a hobby room/craft room – and lure in potential buyers with the prospect of never having to pick up their supplies mid-project to return the area to a “respectable level of order” because company is expected. Encourage them to keep their materials spread out and available for whenever the mood strikes them to return – and enjoy the luxury of merely closing the door in between hobby sessions.

Tiny house and only an average size lawn?
Play up the difference!

“You would rather be outside planting a garden than inside. This property reflects your personal preferences and values. The cozy house is small enough to be economical to heat and cool, yet large enough to be comfortable. The ample yard invites the gardener in you to landscape, plant and enjoy the great outdoors. The home is in excellent condition so you can skip the handyman role most homeowners endure, and enjoy more ‘cultivating’ pursuits.

Entertain your guests outdoors and invite your friends to enjoy your garden in full bloom –
up-close and personal!”

Single story small house in a neighborhood of larger, two-story homes?

Appeal to boomer and senior buyers who don’t want stairs to climb, or a large house to clean and maintain. Market this as the perfect opportunity to continue to enjoy the type of neighborhood they want, at a reasonable cost, and with all the amenities – and none of the drawbacks.

NOTE: When listing a property like this, your seller may want to invest in a pretty ramped walkway (as an alternative to steps) that improves access and appeal to this market-share.

For every home there is a perfect buyer. Likewise, for every buyer there is a perfect home. It’s your job (and your professional passion) to properly introduce the two – and let nature take its course.