Is a older home a bad thing for resale?

madeynaOctober 16, 2008

We have had four different realtors out here to give us comparables on our 1915 home and they have all acted like the age of our home is a huge deterent to getting it sold. They all said the loved the home and that it is very comfortable . But they all though we needed to add a shop for resale. In the last year we have added a addition ,two bathrooms and a new kitchen as well as arc. shingle roof , hardie board siding and all new flooring and a new foundation. I think we are in danger of getting upside down in the place esp. since we cann,t change the age of the home and they read that as a huge negative.

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They told you to add a 'shop' for resale? What, turn the place into a storefront of some kind? That's the most peculiar thing I've ever heard, not to mention that zoning laws would probably prohibit doing it in any case! What is 'hardie' siding? You've apparently put a huge amount of money into fixing things up (a new foundation? Or just some shoring up?) - do you think it's possibly taken your house's value way up out of the local ones to something that won't sell at your price(??) there? It's possible to spend more money on something than the place and area is worth, and therefore not get your rehab money out of it at all, or perhaps you have not raised the curb appeal value outside along with everything you did inside, and so it still looks old? Age alone is NOT a bad thing.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 6:49AM
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The 4 realtors that you have spoken to appear to be clueless, in my opinion. I'm an old house owner and in my experience, there are realtors who specialize and know older homes and can market them properly. Those are the realtors you need to find. The upgrades that you have listed sound great. I'd keep looking for a good realtor and ignore that business about putting a shop in your home. Check with your neighbors as to who they've used - a good referral is a great resource. What they are telling you reflects a lack of knowledge about old homes.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:50AM
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There are lots of people who would not buy an old house - too much trouble with upkeep, old-fashioned, etc. They are probably in the majority.

But then there are certain people (like me) who love old homes and would not consider a new one. I wish my house was even older! I think you would find many potential buyers who are interested in an old house that doesn't need tons of rehab. Many old houses have been converted into apartments or have had original elements ripped out in the name of "modernization". We bought our 1930s colonial two days after it went on the market - it was modest, but everything was original and in good shape. I think we got a good price as the seller's realtor undervalued older houses. In my town, the old houses usually sell pretty quickly.

As to the "shop" suggestion. That makes no sense unless you are on a very busy road or in a commercial area. Is your house surrounded by other single family homes?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:53AM
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We are on a dead end road with a 2 acre min. on land size. The the newer homes going up in our area are all huge. So I am thinking the realters think the shop will off set the size differance . They cann,t find comparables our size up here since everything that has sold or been build in the last couple of years have been much much larger than ours. I guess I am just surprised that being older is a negative.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:05PM
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A dead end road sounds like a VERY bad place to put a shop!

I love older home especially with original elements. Keep looking for a realter that knows how to market them. IE. point out lots of detailed woodwork, updated kitchen and all wiring, plumbing, foundation, roof issues taken care of. The wiring, plumbing, structural and roof issues are big things for even old house lovers. So if you can find a real estate agent that can point out that your house has the old house charm without the old house headachs it should sell quite well to the right person.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 2:09PM
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just curious-

when you said "shop" did you mean a workshop or a store? The latter does not make sense.

In my opinion, well maintained "old homes" are easier to sell than homes from the 80s-90s, since they have stood the test of time, generally are better built, generally have "charm." etc. Perhaps they compete less with homes built in the past decade, sine many people want "new" homes.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 3:58PM
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I've got to go with Patser - you need an agent with a clue.

ok, yeah - I live in a neck of the woods where they're moving idiots in to million dollar new construction as fast as they can sign the paperwork...

and the old homes? are still worth more.

even if one of the new developments cropped up in the front yard...the top end realtors in the area still have waiting lists of people who want to get the hell out of their stupid little cracker boxes with their cold, over-decorated kitchens, and in to something that feels like home.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 4:57PM
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Lots of good ideas above, but I wanted to focus in on your lack of comps. I had exactly the same problem recently (old house; updated subsystems; no back yard -- only a side yard, on a lot that was small compared to my neighbors), so good comps were hard to come by.

We started high, price-wise and gradually came to the right place. (To put high in perspective, it was 15% higher than the final sell price.) Lots of traffic, but no bites until the price came down. All this took about 4 months.

On the other hand, I "beat" my appraisal (the one I paid for when I was contemplating fsbo) by 13%. I only blame the appraiser a bit, though, as he really did have crappy comps to work with.

If I could give you any advice, it would be to start high, as it sounds like you have a fine house. Drop the price steadily until you find the place the market responds. Oh, and let the next owner build a workshop if they want one.

The Buying and Selling homes forum will probably have more good advice for you, if you post there.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 5:34PM
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Thanks everyone . We love our older home and it really is built solid and has details you just don,t see it to many of the newer homes, there is just nothing cheap and flimsy about it. By shop I ment workshop or garage.I have a shed and small barn for the horses and tons of parking space but no carport or garage. I got depressed hearing your home is beatiful you did a great job but the age is going to hurt you on resale. I didn,t know how I was supposed to take that .I cann,t do anything about the age and if my husband hadn,t gotten transfered we would happily be here to celibrate our homes 100 birthday in a couple of years.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 5:40PM
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Older homes have a smaller market than the new junk.

They are also likely to still be standing when the newer homes have fallen down.

It is likely to take longer to sell an older place, but upgrades to electric and plumbing will go a long way to eliminating higher maintenance costs.

Find some RE agents that have a clue.

It sounds like the ones yo have talked to are overly concerned with the labor (= time) of finding a buyer for anything that is not 'brand spanking new.'

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:34PM
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Don't hesitate to interview agents until you find one that handles older homes. Make sure your agent creates a good photo spread for the internet listing. Old house buyers often have a look in mind, make sure the internet listing shows your look.

I wouldn't build anything to make an agent happy. If it's a serious issue with the buyer you can negotiate with the buyer. You've already renovated the things that would be serious concerns to an old house buyer.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 4:36AM
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I would add that the pro-environment movement also helps with the purchase/sale of older homes. Why build something new when the existing structure is just as good, often times better made, than what you would replace it with? When we were looking for homes, it was nice to know that the older home we purchased was made with traditional techniques, was solidly built, and we were not contributing to the consumer/disposable mindset.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 1:00PM
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I hate it when agents say the home is "so unique" that they can't find comps for it. It's happened to us four out of the five times we've sold. Each time the agents said the house would be difficult to sell.
Two of the four sold with in two weeks of going on the market, a third sold the day it went on the market.
Much depends on having the right people come thru to look at the property. You have to use the right words and not mislead. Use pics that capture the imagination AND you've got to get the agent to see the wonder of the house so they can sell it.
Off handed I'd say the four that you've talked to are the wrong ones to represent you.
Above all else a clean well presented house will sell even in a tough market.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 5:08PM
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I agree you need to shop for new realtors. Look for ones who specialize in old houses. You need a realtor who appreciates the charm so he or she can sell the charm!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 7:26PM
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Our old house, c1894, sold in 10 days. No open houses, just priced correctly. We also heard that it was hard to get comps for our house.
I agree with others here that you should try to find a local realtor who understands older homes.
While I understand that a lot of buyers might be looking for a shop or garage, why would you do this just for a sale? Are they guaranteeing profit from the amount you would spend adding this structure?

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 2:41AM
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When my father decided to sell his 1880 Victorian, he went with a agent who specialized in older homes. As background, his small city in New Hampshire has been experiencing a growth boom, with about 400 new homes a year for the past few years. The agent had a list of clients who wanted an older home near the center of town. About 20 people looked at the house in the first three weeks. It ended up in a mini-bidding war between two couples who really wanted the house.

Even though the kitchen was from the 1950's and the furnace decided to die two weeks after the house went on the market, it was sold three weeks after the first person walked through, and at $5,000 over the listing price. The sale was this past February.

I second the advice of finding someone who can see the positives in the house and not just the negatives.

I'm house hunting now, and I want an older home. I'm tired of viewing new homes where the floor shakes if you run up the stairs, the kitchen is cherry, granite and stainless steel, crown molding is an added special feature that costs a ton and all the houses look exactly like the house across the street. I want an little house on an average lot, not a huge house squished on to a small lot.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 8:27PM
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A late follow up:

You have a shed and a small stable. That's enough. The next owner can add a garage. They may prefer the stable anyway, or need something over-sized for the horse trailer! You can take some off your price because it doesn't have a 'shop'. That should be easy to get comps on.

If there is a local historical society, ask them about a real estate agent.
Your house is built with old growth lumber - unavailable today. It is much better quality that those boxes around you. (written by an architect who helps keep old houses alive)

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 6:03PM
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The realtor my seller used told them to paint all the walls white. The vintage stove was trashed. The orginal bathroom was gutted and replaced with cheap fixtures. They also recommended pulling out the vintage kitchen sink and painting all of the vintage kitchen cabinets (thank heaven that was too expensive for the seller). Sigh.

I bought this house in spite of what they did. Get yourself a reator that knows & appreciates old houses and will look for buyers that are looking for an old house. Or better yet, find a real estate attorney that will work for a flat fee and sell the house yourself. It is a surprisingly easy process and the money that can be saved is astounding.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Resale depends more on the condition, the location and the market than on the age of the house. My house was built in 1891. I've owned it for 27 years and it is now worth about 9 times what I paid for it with no added rooms.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 8:55PM
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