How to sell your ‘ugly’ house when no one is biting
In today’s market, renovated move-in ready properties sell at a premium.
But what if you can’t or won’t fix up your house? A property that is dated, unrenovated or unloved, can linger on the market for months, pushing the price down.
Fixer-uppers may have been appealing a decade ago, but today they leave buyers cold, said McKenzie Ryan, an agent with Compass in New York City.
“Ten years ago, most people wanted to add some value and put their own fingerprint on it,” she said. “Now it has been such a shift, particularly with millennial buyers — they want a finished product. They don’t want to put in the sweat equity.”
For homeowners without the money or time for a renovation, new options can help sell a property with no out-of-pocket costs.
Pre-sale renovations with no upfront cost
Some real estate agencies, like Compass, Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams, are offering renovation services with no upfront costs to their clients. The firms then recoup the cost of the renovation from the price of the home after it sells.
Ryan was hired to sell a two-bedroom, two-bath condo on Manhattan’s Upper West Side after the owners were unable to sell it with another agent at a list price of $1.3 million.
The feedback the sellers received was that prospective buyers would be more interested in the home if it were updated.
So, together with the owners, Ryan is fixing it up. Her company’s service, Compass Concierge, fronts the cost of the home improvements. The condo will be painted, the floors will be sanded and stained, kitchen cabinets will be painted and receive new hardware, and a bathroom will get a new vanity, flooring and a light fixture. Once all the renovations are complete, the condo will go back on the market for $1.395 million — a price that will more than make up for the cost of renovations.
“When I’ve done this with properties, my listings have sold quicker and at a higher price compared to similar properties in the building,” Ryan said.
Sell quickly with no showings
Many investors — called instant buyers or ibuyers — advertise quick cash offers for “ugly houses,” often at below-market prices. They flip the properties for a profit, saving sellers the hassle of showings and costly renovations. Even real estate firms, like Zillow and Redfin, have ibuyer divisions that will make a cash offer on a home— often sight unseen — based on the specific location and attributes of the property.
Sundae, a real estate company based in southern California, buys homes with a quick cash offer, and then renovates and flips them. After a representative does an in-person evaluation of a home that is then analyzed by a construction cost expert and a valuation expert, Sundae makes the seller a cash offer.
Homeowners can sell as-is, with no fees, repairs, cleanups or showings and also get up to a $10,000 cash advance from the sale upfront to help with the move, if needed. Some closings have happened in as little as 10 days.
“When people come to us we evaluate three things: Do you have the money for renovations? Do you have the time? Do you have the know-how?” said Josh Stech, CEO at Sundae. “If the home needs a little bit too much work, selling to Sundae may be a good option.”
And Stech said, people sometimes need a hand to hold, since a quick sale is often brought on by an unplanned life event.
“Often people are in duress,” Stech said. “They are going through a transaction that is unfamiliar and high stakes and typically there is a relocation, divorce or death involved.”
Selling the home with no showings — especially for people with serious pet issues, a history of hoarding or estate sales in which family members may not be nearby — can be the most appealing part for some sellers.
For many people, he said, it matters what happens to the house even as they walk away.
“They want a family to live there,” said Stech. “They want to see that the house has the kids and dog running around the backyard like they remember from 30 years ago. They just can’t do the work to get it there.”
By Anna Bahney