Looking Past The First Impression
First Impressions last the longest for most of us. Was it "love at first sight" when you met your spouse? Many have experienced that ultimate of first impressions and spend their life thankful for the encounter. What happens when you aren't impressed at first, but something grows on you? The lingering impression, or the discovery of what is behind/beneath the first impression?
Many people make real estate buying decisions based on their first impression of a property. It is amazing how many people won't even get out of the car at a property based on what they see from the road. Sometimes that decision is warranted, but occasionally there is more to offer in a property than what meets the initial eye. We discussed a cluttered property with potential Buyers recently. They commented that all you see when you drive up is garbage strewn about, cars, car parts, and general debris. This problem is not a physical deficiency in the property, can be quickly remedied and the cost mitigated in the sales price. The conversation then moved to the condition of the improvements, most in need of repair. It is important to separate real work on improvements from the simple work of debris removal.
Sellers should always be aware of the power of first impressions, but there are times when they just can't improve their situation for reasons of finances, health, time, etc. Such Seller circumstances usually result in a price hit to the benefit of the Buyer. Therein lies the art for the Buyer. How do you spot the proverbial "diamond in the rough"? Is the stench so strong as to close your eyes to a good buy? Look to the solution. Can you remove the carpet, coat the subfloor with Kilz and have a new smelling house? While others are turning up their nose and running for the door, grab your checkbook and write an appropriate offer.
Be sure the "bones" are good, or that you adjust your offer accordingly. By this we mean the structure and systems of the home. If the roof has blown off and you are seeing bare wood, you've a serious matter. Note that you'll need a new roof and keep looking at the house. A couple of broken windows, no worries. Things to be concerned about include mold, structural failure, life safety matters, and things that can't be easily corrected, i.e.- unstable foundation, . As you consider the home, make sure that it makes sense for you not just from a floorplan and amenity standpoint, but the money and time that you will have to invest to mitigate the negative circumstances. Make sure that you offset the hassle factor with the return that will you realize for your vision, investment, and effort. The rewards can be stunning if you can get yourself past the first impression.
Our Advice: Solving the problem is where much of the money in real estate is made. Most Buyers react to the initial negative visual or visceral impressions. If it looks or smells bad consider that you likely won't have much competition to buy that property. That allows you to make an appropriate offer. Houses are physical structures that can be repaired or modified to your taste in a fairly short period of time. Homes are what you create after you buy the house, mitigate its shortfalls, and put your energy in to it. Don't look at a sad house, look at the joy you can create with a home that has problem owners.
Before you love or hate a house, get to know it. You might find your first impression doesn't last, and you can be delightfully surprised ... or not. A house is first an investment, then a home. Make wise decisions as you approach your purchase and you'll be pleased with the results.
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