As a practicing REALTOR® since 1999, I’ve seen and sold my share of challenged property. Most homes can be sold fairly quickly if the timing and price point is right. Stinky basements, old appliances, old water stains, and over grown yards are the norm. And those are challenges that are easily met with a little elbow grease and time.
I recently sold another home in Mableton, specifically in the Anne Placeneighborhood off of Nickajack Road. This is a neighborhood built during the 1980’s with just under 100 homes with various styles such as Cape Cods, Victorians, Traditional, Colonial, Ranches with 2 car side loaded garages on most homes. On average about 3% of the home sell in the subdivision a year versus Mableton as a whole which roughly has 18% turnover in the homes that come onto the market. Simply put, sales in the neighborhood are pretty few and far between.
The interesting thing about this home is that it's in my neck of the woods. Literally in walking distance to where I live. I was excited to take on the challenge of getting this home in my neighborhood SOLD and not let it continue to sit on the market. To describe it to you it was, what we real estate agents would say a "Mid Century Home" with tons of personality and potential,” a jewel in the rough”,” a soon to be powder puff of a home”, but basically just something built in the 80's that needed a lot of work. It hadn't be updated other than a new roof and that was at least 4-5 years old. We are talking brass fixtures, old carpet, laminated flooring, a dated kitchen and baths. The home featured purple and brown walls with bright as the sun yellow Louisiana-Pacific siding with jewel green trim, accented with a deck with matching green treads and risers on the stairs. And to top it all off it had a sloping topography overgrown with 40 foot Georgia pines and a power easement. The home had been a rental for about 10 years, with owners that were not too picky about their tenants to chose. Over the years, cars had been parked on the grass, leaked oil, the weeds were as high as small children and seasons’ old pine needles decorated the yard and driveway with their distinct caramel color. The bushes, uncut for years had grown completely out of control, hiding the once beautiful brick front facade. Plainly said, the home needed attention.
The home (un)fortunately foreclosed and sat on the market ignored by the masses for almost two years. Admittedly the bank having taken over the property was a good thing because it helped to alleviate the eye sore issue it presented for so long by its’ tenants over the years. They managed to keep the yard cut which was helpful. But the home would take much more in order to sell. This home, this neighborhood, the community at large, needed this home to picked up and taken care of by new owners. Something needed to be done but no one was doing anything.
As a REALTOR®, I understand what an eye sore a foreclosure can create in a neighborhood. It affects the esthetics of a neighborhood, the neighbors worry about what's going on, not to mention it hurts property values. I wasn't the listing agent; I didn't have the inside track on the changing hands of this home. It went from, agency to agency for a while. Not one of those agents had the ability to get the home SOLD. All the previous agencies were from outside of Mableton, outside of Cobb County even, so the fact that they couldn't get the home sold, wasn't all that surprising. With homes as challenging as this, you have to know its’ neighborhood, its nuances, the reason for its values, where the buyers are coming from, who they are and what they are looking for, to properly market a home with a strong price that will attract buyers.
Since I wasn’t the listing agent, I decided to focus on finding a buyer for this home, someone who would add value to this neighborhood that I shared with 96 other households. I found that buyer. It was an investor who after I sent a 4-page report to about the area, its' people, and the values, decided to invest his dollars into the neighborhood. He bought that property! Yes, victory! I got that property SOLD! All would be right with the world and that eyesore of a property would be gone.
Challenges, after challenges….
Then the hard part started... He purchased the property in the middle of a selling season but it was going to take almost 4 months to get the home ready for sale. After countless delays, material shortages, and orders taking forever to be delivered by vendors, the home was ready for market, late in the fall.
Now you can imagine what was happening to the market at that time; it was shifting. Fall can be a challenging time to put a home on the market. Kids had already started back to school; the market was slowing down and preparing for the winter slump in sales. Summer buyers had made their final selections and were closing on their homes. The market fell off the summer ride of sales about 58% from just the previous quarter. We were down, but not out. We put a marketing package together, focused on the benefits of the property, our value proposition, and invited the neighborhood to our "Neighbors Only" Open House event to gather 'Intel' so-to-speak on what they thought of the home. That day 32 neighbors saw the home in a matter of 3 hours. We took the feedback and made adjustments to what the home offered and its price. It brought us a lot more traffic in the coming days and weeks, we have a few nibbles but still no bites. The market had started to really close in on us. We wondered if we missed the market, possibly priced too high at that time. Something was out of sync, but what?
We kept the marketing going, with custom property flyers, open houses, Real Estate Agent Only events, a ton of online marketing including social media, virtual tours Youtube videos, 3 customized property websites, daily online ads on a myriad of websites, 3 photos shoots, 2 video shoots, 24-hour hotline numbers, calls into area, mailers, heavy signage every weekend to draw traffic to the home, and call-to-action cues on every email about the property. Inside the property we had full color marketing pieces displayed throughout detailing the changes and additions to the property. We had dozens of people seeing the home each and every month and even tracked over 10,000 hits on all of the sites combined but still no takers. At this point we were scratching our heads for solutions to the problem of selling this home. We knew the market slowed down to just a small stream of buyers from the large pool that were around during the summer. We knew that serious buyers were looking but they were far and few between. Something had to change.
It finally clicked…
A couple months later we were into the New Year. We re-launched the home, changed the direction of the marketing to focus on a personal touch program, with calling people we knew, sending handwritten letters with photos of the home and door knocking and flyer delivery to apartment complexes that were nearby. That along with the upcoming spring market and a price adjustment - worked like magic. Immediately we started seeing foot traffic like you wouldn't believe. We received 3 offers on the home and after selecting the best offer closed in 30 days. We found a buyer in the local market within 15 miles of the neighborhood.
Here what was done to the property:
After it was purchased by the renovator, the home received a facelift. New hardie board siding on three sides, rebuilt deck, new hardwood floors, new carpet, new paint, inside and out, new granite in the kitchen and master bath, new lighting throughout the home, a new HVAC system, new duct work in the basement, new front door, new basement door and hardware, new garage doors, new insulation, new window blinds throughout the home, pine trees removed, massive yard clean up, and much, much more. This home looked, smelled and felt almost new.
Was it the marketing, timing or just plain hard work?
Over the course of a few months, a challenged home such as this went through a massive renovation, hosted 7 open houses, 2 agent events, 147 people in total walked through its front door, 23 re-visits from buyers, 1200 mailers, 4300 emails, 3 photos shoots, 2 video shoots, was considered for HGTV, had 500 calls to agents and neighbors, ads placed on 300+ websites, went through a ream of paper in outdoor flyers, no less than 10 directional signs leading to the house every weekend, received 3 offers and closed within 30 days with the winning offer at 98.2% of the asking price. With all of that work, it came down to timing, condition, motivation, market position and pricing.
Needless to say that it took a lot of work to get this home SOLD. For my neighbors and my community, I'd do it all over again without thinking twice. After years of this home sitting vacant, I felt proud of doing my part to help my community bounce back and thrive even with just this one home. No longer do my neighbors have to experience such an eyesore, a price value crusher, a basic let down that became of this home. It is now SOLD to buyers who love it, love the neighborhood and will take the upmost care of the home.
Don’t stop when the chips are down
A good real estate agent won't stop when challenged; they keep pushing ahead, pulling out all the stops for their clients and community at large. Mableton and South Cobb residents deserve to have thriving neighborhoods with strong values and people who care to do their best no matter how hard or how long it takes. I was glad to be able to do my part. No one else would have done or could have done more. – I guarantee it.
Jackye Mumphrey – The Mableton Real Estate Maven
Licensed Broker and Listing Specialist
Learn more about Jackye Mumphrey and about the Mableton Real Estate market at www.GotMableton.com