Know what I have been thinking a lot about lately? The “Average House” that is on the market. I get a lot of statistics thrown at me that I have to analyze, but there is nothing more depressing to me than the “Average house.”
See, there are a TON of houses on the market right now and not many buyers. The last number I heard was that there are 13 buyers for every house available. Do you know what that really means? The other 12 houses per buyer aren’t going to sell. What are those houses like?
They are the ones that don’t stand out in any way shape or form. There is nothing special about them. Average location. Average condition. Average price. Not that there is really anything wrong with any of that, it is just that there are sooooo many of them on the market right now. I hate to be the bad guy, but they probably aren’t going to sell. Sure, there is a sign rusting away out front, and an MLS listing that is getting as much attention as I probably would on a dating website, but really, it might as well not even be for sale.
I’ve been in plenty of these houses with my buyers. They normally just walk in, walk out, then tell me the house was okay with the enthusiasm they might have when picking out toilet paper at the grocery store. Heck, I bought one of those houses….kind of. Sure, I picked a good location, but everything else about my house was…..well, like everything else in every other houses in my price range. There was really nothing great to say about it other than the fact that it was in a nice neighborhood. The floor plan is one that is scattered over pretty much any neighborhood in town, the lot is nothing to write home about, and it wasn’t in move in condition. In fact, it was what I call “Move-Out” condition, meaning the seller’s had moved out and left the nail holes, the indentions in the carpet where their furniture had been, their kid’s finger prints on the walls, etc. Now, I have done a lot of updating, so I think my house would now stand out due to location and condition if I had to sell today……but without the work I have done, all I could do to sell it today would be to price it lower than other houses currently on the market.
I think the sellers who have it worst are those who are in newer neighborhoods where a buyer can even pick from multiple versions of the same house. I’ve shown several houses back to back that were the exact same house, but with different finishes…..”Oh, this one has berber carpeting and the last one had plush.” “Oh, this one has beige vinyl and the one around the corner has blue.”
I got a phone call from somebody last week about selling their house. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there to see that it was in move in condition, would show well, and had new laminate flooring throughout. In the price point the house is in, that is an attractive perk to any buyer. It helps too that they are willing to price it competitively. I have no doubt that when it hits the market, one of the first buyers to see it will want it because it is better than the “Average House.”
So, what are you to do if you find yourself in a house that doesn’t have anything any different that any other house available? First, don’t feel bad. In the hot market of yesterday, people routinely settled for their second or third choice house and felt lucky to get it. Now those peeps are trying to sell in a market where most buyers get their first pick. Here are your options…..there are only two (trust me, there is no third option here!) You either make it attractive to a buyer by pricing it lower that the competition or make it better than the competition. If you are in a neighborhood where vinyl is common, put down tile, if carpet is common, go hardwood or laminate. Increase the size of the deck or patio. Fence the yard. Add stainless appliances. Leave a nice washer and dryer. It is all about one upping the other seller and stealing the next buyer away from them.