Selling a Historic Home

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of viewing a historic home that was going up for sale. It was in need of a lot of work, as many 150 year old homes are, but the home owner was asking way too much for the home. The kitchen had carpet for flooring and was in terrible shape. The plaster walls were cracked and coming apart, ceilings had water damage, and the bathrooms were a 100 year old disaster.

As I walked through the rooms, my rehabber eyes caught many things wrong with the home. The home owner and I sat down to discuss my thoughts on a list price, and if there was anything that could be done to make the home look better. My motto is complete honesty, and I asked how honest they wanted me to be. Of course, the answer is always, complete honesty, even when sometimes, that might not be the case.

I told the owner that if they really wanted to sell the home, that their price must reflect the repairs and updating that will have to be completed by the future owner. I could easily see 100,000 going into the home, as the kitchen and two bathrooms would be total guts. The house needed a lot of work. The response I received was mixed as the seller was having a hard time stomaching my suggested list price. They had the home on the market a year before, during the boom, and now I was telling them a price $300,000 less than what they had originally listed the home for with a previous Realtor.

They had two options:

  1. Sell at a lower price which reflects the condition of the home.
  2. Put some money into the home, fix it up, and then sell for a higher price.

Luckily, they had 100% equity in the home and had the option of pulling some money out to fix the place up. The home is now on the market, with another Realtor. (you can’t win them all) I plan on going by the home to see just how much they fixed it up, as it will be interesting to see if the home sells quicker, or languishes on the market at the higher price.

My main point is that when listing a historic home, you really have to look at the homes condition when coming up with a price. While the home might have a prime location, buyers will discount the list price according to what repairs will need to be completed upon purchase.

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