How to sell an underdog property

Every postcode has properties that are “renovator’s delights” (missing floors), “close to public transport” (trains roar past bedrooms every three minutes) and “prime for gentrification” (overlooking failed car yards).So what do you do when such vendors call and want you to sell their ugly ducklings to the world? Do you run for the hills if confronted with a real estate runt of the litter?

Not according to Melbourne agent Tim Heavyside of Fletchers Canterbury who believes “there is always a buyer for every property”.Edi-TH

“I have sold some wacky properties in my time and dealt with all types of vendors and the most important aspect is to always maintain your integrity and honesty,” he says.

“We have all heard the saying ‘what is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ – it is true.”

Andrew Bell, the chief executive of Ray White Surfers Paradise Group, agrees.

“First and foremost, there is a buyer for everything (so) I would look at what could be done, and the cost, to improve aspects that can be corrected, for example, a terrible colour, parts of structure needing repair etc,” he says. “Discussion can then be held with the owner to see whether the investment in making good those damages is warranted or is affordable.

“There are obviously some aspects you simply can’t change.

“However, this is all about trying to create as much interest as possible in the property and looking to see how you could promote the property positively.Q&A-Andrew-Bell-photo-edit

Bell, who became an agent in 1972, says “experienced” people can struggle to sell underdog properites because of their own limiting beliefs about their potential.

In this way, being a new agent is an advantage.

“Brand new people to the industry, who don’t have years of mental conditioning, are just simply enthusiastic to have a listing and will often sell properties experienced people can’t because of a better attitude.”

What can a proactive agent do to sell an underdog?

Bell recommends “doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis” to establish the flipsides of potential drawbacks. This helps establish a counterbalancing story for property features that may be perceived as negatives.

“I would engage the seller in that discussion as they perhaps have some positive considerations about the property that we as agents aren’t aware of,” he says.

“The process of a SWOT analysis would also help the seller understand a balanced picture of their properties pros and cons.”

Bell says often “some humour triggers more interest” if marketing less-than-perfect properties.

Heavyside agrees, reporting that creative marketing has helped him promote and sell underdogs.

“I have used it to generate creative phrases such as ‘suitable for Bob the Builder’ or ‘Renovate or Detonate’ to make it clear exactly what we are selling,” Heavyside says.

But what about a bad location?

Facing a property with a classically undesirable location, try to think of the listing as a prime opportunity for a buyer to enter the market.

“In terms of main roads, backing onto industrial estates, train lines etc, I often say to vendors that this property offered for sale provided you with an excellent opportunity to buy into this area at a price point and it will do the same this time for your purchaser, provided we price it competitively to the market place,” Heavyside says.

“In terms of selling on main roads, 40 per cent of all homes are on main roads. You need a belief structure that you can sell anywhere and provide clients the right information so they can make an informed decision on price.

“Main roads are generally more convenient to access amenities. I use these facts when selling on main roads all the time. We have had some terrific results.

Gino De Iesi of McGrath in Melbourne would possibly explore an “off market” listing, approaching his existing database before advertising via traditional channels.

“I would explore an open and transparent communication with the vendor based on fact-based feedback from any buyers that come through the property about any drawbacks (and) if at all possible use a stylist to present the property in the best light,” De Iesi says.

What are the big “NO-NOS” for any agent presented with an underdog property?

“I don’t believe an agent should take on a property that they have a negative feeling about as you can’t possibly present the property positively to the market place with that sort of feeling and therefore you are not doing justice to the seller,” Bell says.

Agents should not focus on any drawbacks “unless raised by respective buyers,” De Iesi says. edit-GDL

They should never make unrealistic promises or pretend the property is a silk purse when it is a sow’s ear.

“Definitely do not promise something that cannot be delivered with regards to the property features and always be realistic with price expectations both with buyers and vendors,” he says.


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