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  • Writer's pictureJamie Koehler

Overcoming the 'Bad' Unique

Every time I list a home, I ask myself "What is truly unique about this home that will be appealing to buyers?" This is what I call the 'good' unique. Then I ask myself "What is unique about this home that may be off-putting to buyers?" This is what I call the 'bad' unique. If you live in the Baltimore area, you know our housing stock is quirky and many homes have both 'good' and 'bad' unique attributes.

‘Bad’ unique doesn’t mean that particular aspect of the home can’t be overcome. It’s just the elephant in the room that must be addressed. Some sellers and agents try to ignore the elephant in the room, hoping it will go unnoticed. It won’t. My job is to find the elephant in the room, address it, and convince buyers why an elephant would make an excellent pet, so to speak.

Left to their own devices, buyers will always find the elephant in the room. And, many times, buyers will convince themselves why this elephant in the room, this ‘bad’ unique quality, is one for the ‘con’ list and that it can’t be overcome. If you let that happen, your home will be passed over by buyer after buyer, and your property will sit on the market. And the longer it sits, the more new prospective buyers will shy away from it, thinking there must be something wrong with it.

I identify the elephant in the room at the onset and deal with it head-on. I’m not telling you I’m going to shine a light on it and tell buyers I agree that it’s a problem. Instead, I address it and explain what it ‘could be’. By doing this, I’m planting a seed in the buyers’ minds of why that quality is not a deterrent and may even be an attribute. Let me share an example.

In the summer of 2021, the real estate market in Baltimore, like many other places in the United States, was humming, thanks in large part to the record-low mortgage interest rates that drove homeowners to sell their homes and upgrade to bigger and better ones, and renters to join the buyer pool. It was during this time that I convinced my brother and his wife to sell their home in the 21206 zip code of Baltimore County. They had previously told me that they didn’t want to sell until they could get ‘top dollar’ for their home (which to them meant commanding over $300K for the house they had purchased five years prior for $240K) and could find a home in their desired (more expensive) school district. The summer of 2021 presented the perfect opportunity for them, and I let them know it. I knew if marketed properly, I could sell their house for at least $300K and with the proceeds and low mortgage interest rate, they could afford a home in their desired community of Lutherville-Timonium or Cockeysville.

When I sat down to craft the description of their house for the listing, the ‘good’ unique was obvious – my brother Mitch had built an impressive outdoor kitchen on their rear deck. It included a sink with running water, flat-top grill, and built-in Traeger grill. He also built a firepit area and installed a privacy fence around the entire backyard. To top it off, he and his wife hung string lights overhead. The backyard was spectacular; a real show-stopper. And with the listing going live in late March, I could really express the usefulness of this space in the coming summer months.

Now for the elephant in the room. The ‘bad’ unique. Mitch’s house was a 1927 single-family and it had six true bedrooms. Six. Buyers love space. But when you get above four bedrooms, buyers start to wonder what they are going to do with those extra rooms. Few people have families so large that they require six bedrooms anymore. And few people want their extended family coming to stay for a long period of time. Who has six bedroom sets? And are they going to just sit there collecting dust? I had to address the elephant in the room head-on. I had to let buyers know this was a rare opportunity to finally have that walk-in closet, man cave, home gym, quiet office, etc that they always dreamed of. I spent several hours crafting the description to highlight the ‘good’ unique and handle the ‘bad’ unique. Here’s the exact description I finally published.

“Historic charm and modern convenience tastefully intersect at this truly one-of-a-kind Victorian-style farmhouse. This statuesque home, with its wrap-around front porch, proudly sits on a pie-shaped corner lot and is guaranteed to impress! Unmatched character prevails in the arched doorways, columns, and painted patterned ceilings on the main level. At the heart of this home is a kitchen designed for entertaining. Preparations are made easy thanks to the abundant storage space in the butler’s pantry, ample granite countertop space, and stainless steel appliances. As your guests gather around the center island, they’ll marvel at how the kitchen’s modern amenities beautifully blend with the 1920s aspects of this residence. Serve the main course in the formal dining room and relax with a nightcap in the living room. Spacious main-level suite with its own private bathroom, along with main-level laundry facilities, provides options for use as the primary bedroom, in-law suite, guest suite, or roommate’s room. Another full bathroom and FIVE additional bedrooms occupy the upper two levels. Not sure how to utilize so much extra space? How about that walk-in closet/dressing room, home gym, home office, man cave, reading room/library, craft room, music room, art studio, or guest room you’ve been dreaming of? The sky’s the limit! The basement level boasts a finished space ideal for a home theater AND an unfinished workshop area perfect for DIY projects, with direct access to the backyard. Speaking of the backyard, it's private, enclosed, and the piece de resistance of this remarkable Overlea home! This unique retreat features an expansive rear deck and OUTDOOR KITCHEN complete with running water, flat top grill, and Traeger grill. Imagine dining under the stars this summer…then taking a few short steps to the lower yard to cozy up at the fire pit, roast marshmallows, make s'mores, and sip a glass of wine. You won't hesitate to invite others to join you; there’s parking for up to 6 cars in your private driveway. This home checks boxes you didn’t know you had. There’s none other like it. What are you waiting for? Schedule a showing today!”

We listed the house for $310K. We had 25 showings and a successful open house. We received five offers and Mitch and his wife Kayleigh sold the house for $325K.

In Baltimore City and Baltimore County every house is going to have at least one ‘good’ unique feature and one ‘bad’ unique feature. I’ll work with you to identify those features, highlight the ‘good’ ones and address the elephants in the room. We will lean into those aspects that may be deterrents and find ways to control the narrative and offer suggestions on why those features could be attributes. By planting this seed, we will overcome those hurdles, generate more interest, and ultimately sell your home faster, and for a higher price.

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