Finding fault instead of looking for opportunities
As we stumble over opportunities on our quest to find our dream house, I always ask people either at an open house or buyers that I am working with when viewing a home, “What do you like about it and what don’t you like about it”. Most people find it very easy to find fault and to verbalize what is wrong with a place. It’s harder to say nice things. Those need prompts like:
- Do you like the layout?
- Do you think the kitchen is big enough?
- Why are we here?
- Why did you want to see this one?
The 80% Rule
I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years and I’ve learned from them. I’ve learned that it is a rare thing for a home to be 100% of what they are looking for. There is always going to be a thing or two that they would have done differently (even if you build or buy pre-construction). And I used to say that looking for a home is a process of elimination with a final compromise. Actually I still do say that. When you get 80% or 85% there, then if you are serious about buying you should make an offer.
Many homebuyers have in their minds a long list of deal breakers. There are some things that some people absolutely will not put up with in any property they purchase:
- Living next to a gas station, factory, cemetery, tattoo parlour…
- Living on a busy street, on a corner lot, backing onto a high-rise…
But there are a lot of deal breakers that are actually deal getters (opportunities) in disguise. I’ve noticed that houses that are all fixed up and move-in ready, sell fast and at a premium. At the same time, homes that are just as good but flawed in some glittering way linger on the market and sell for less. We are all guilty of the shiny object syndrome. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. We want to be proud of our purchase. We want to show it off. But we are missing opportunities in our rush to eliminate the not perfect. We bypass a lot of homes with fixable flaws.
Here are some elimination triggers that you may consider eliminating.
Opportunities might be knocking
Kitchens and bathrooms
There is an old adage that says kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. I think it’s true. I also think that a lot of home buyers eliminate otherwise perfectly good homes because the kitchens and/or bathrooms are out of date.
“A new kitchen can cost $90,000”!
Really? I think you can get a perfectly great kitchen for a third of that. A bathroom reno is less than $10,000.
Walls and floors
There is another old adage that says that flat surfaces sell homes. I think that’s true too. I’m talking about walls, floors and countertops. So you are touring a home with 1960s aluminum siding, or 1970 lime green shag carpet. These are deal breakers for most people — perhaps a deal maker for you.
Wet basements, cracked foundations and the big ticket items
Ok so the first two were cosmetic. Any home that is more than 15 years out of date is seriously out of date. Styles change. Tastes change. Materials change. Those are cosmetic fixes. But what is the house has real issues. You don’t want to buy someone else problem, right?
The foundation repair contractors, (the crack filling specialists) guarantee their fix up jobs for life or 50 years, (what ever comes first). And we are not talking about tens of thousands of dollars. We are talking about one thousand dollars, maybe two tops.
I’ve noticed that as the price of houses rapidly increased over recent years the price of the components did not keep up. Sure it’s expensive to replace a roof or a furnace, but relative to the price of buying a new home, it’s a bargain.
Don’t be so quick to eliminate
I’m not saying in this post that you should run out and buy a bad house. I’m saying that you should not be so quick on the NO button, you should not be quite so quick to eliminate the not perfect. Buying a flawed house in one way or another give you as a buyer a lot of power. There is opportunity lurking in bad listings.
Earlier this year, I helped a client buy a great place at what I think is a good deal. The listing agent had taken lousy photographs that certainly did not show off the place for what it was — a bright airy home. I say we got a deal because I don’t think anyone else saw it. The bad photos made it easy to eliminator and that opened the road for us to drive by and snatch it up.
Listings on the edge
It is very competitive out there. I’m sure you’ve been to open houses that are a scrum of buyers and agents. Everyone is bunched up in the middle of looking for the perfect house whereas there is lots of room on the edges. A rule I live by that has always worked for me is: “If everyone else is doing it, do something else”.
At least consider it.