Selling house with steep driveway

mountmerkelMay 25, 2012

Hello,

My husband and I are trying to sell our first house and I'm approaching panic mode. It seems like there are a lot of knowledgeable people on this forum, and I was hoping for some advice.

We're selling FSBO and have been on the market three weeks. We've had 15 showings with several second showings and third showings. We got an offer on Day 4 (fell through due to financing) and an offer on Day 9 (were under contract at 96% of the asking price, but the buyer backed out due to personal reasons involving his planned move). Every piece of feedback we've gotten from realtors is that the house shows beautifully, their client loves the house, but the steep driveway is a problem. Our listing is on http://www.carolinahome.com/findahome.aspx

MLS #2082834.

I'm not sure what to do. It seems that the driveway is going to be a real obstacle in selling the house. I don't know if we should wait it out for the person to come along that loves the house so much they don't mind the driveway (that's what happened to us when we bought it), lower the price (by how much to compensate for a steep driveway?) or try something else. I've thought about offering one year of free lawn care so buyers won't have to mow the steep hill, which would cost about $2,000. Any suggestions would be appreciated, we really want to sell this house!

Here is a picture that shows the steep driveway better:

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dabunch

Do you get snow in your area? How often?
How much?

Homes with winter weather and steep driveways are harder to sell. When the right buyer comes along, the driveway won't be a problem. I sold my house with a steep driveway in the NE. I heard the steep driveway complaints, too. Hang in there.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:18AM
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jakabedy

Do you have a turnaround spot at the top? Meaning do you have a paved spot where folks can back out of the garage and turn around, so they can drive down the driveway face-first? It looks like you might, based on the bit of truck I see in the photo. But if not, I would see if it would be possible (with setbacks, covenants, etc.) to put one in. The snow concern is a valid one, but if you're not in snow country, I think the biggest concern would be backing down that driveway.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:33AM
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adellabedella_usa

You have had 15 showings and two offers in three weeks time, I think you are priced properly. You may just need the right buyer to walk through.

If you droppped your price, I think you would need to go down to $159K to get noticed. Like I said above, I think you are priced where you should be.

I know it is stressful, but I'd just sit and wait for a little while. I wouldn't offer anything extra.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Northlut

I agree with adellabedella. If you've had 15 showings and two offers, I'm not convinced you really have a problem. Almost every house has something that people will complain about. It's obviously not preventing people from returning for second visits or making offers...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:21AM
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amtrucker22

I agree with Northlut and adellabedella... There is no real problem if you get that many showings and already have had 2 offers. I am in the process of selling my house and understand impatience but I think you are doing well!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 3:59PM
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mountmerkel

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I will try to just sit tight for awhile and hope the right person comes along. We are in the Charlotte NC area, so snow is not a major problem. I like the idea of putting in a turnaround area at the top -- that might be a possibility. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 4:03PM
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maddielee

Did you build? Or did YOU buy that house with the steep driveway?

If you bought it, chances are someone else will.

ML

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Fori is not pleased

Surely that's what people expect from a house on a hill! The view doesn't come free!

Perhaps the Landscaping forum could advise you on ways to make the drive appear less steep with some sort of planting. They can be pretty rough, though, so wear a thick skin if you ask them. :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 9:45PM
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jane__ny

We sold our house in NY with a ski slope of a driveway. The day we moved, it snowed and the movers couldn't come down the driveway - had to hand carry 10 rooms of furniture. Our driveway went downhill, right into the house. We lived there 30+ years and learned to live with it. Couldn't get it plowed because it was too steep, so we paid for it to be hand shovelled.

It did present some problems while selling. We instructed all agents to drive down it and not walk (dangerous in heels).

We sold the house. Young couple who didn't seem bothered by it - never said anything.

We would go through tons of salt each winter

You just have to wait for the right buyer.

Jane

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 12:07AM
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lazy_gardens

Sell the great view!

Definitely needs a turn-around, because backing down that drive into traffic would scare most people. It can be just gravel edged with stone big enough to make a tight turn, doesn't have to be elaborate, but it has to be there. Kill the grass, lay down landscape fabric and start spreading gravel.

If you extended the flower beds to the edge of the drive they will not see that steep strip of lawn running up the hill. It will not emphasize the steepness.

Do it quickly, just cover the grass with a couple layers of cardboard and then mulch and plan a few things to blend into the existing plantings. Make the landscaping on the slope more emphatically horizontal by planting a
few horizontal "drifts" of inexpensive annual plants.

I hesitate to recommend anything labor intensive, but if you installed a tiny amount of terracing on that slope, maybe just near the drive, it would make it less threatening. A series of low retaining walls running horizontally instead of the round rocks making lines down the hill would shorten the look of the drive.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 10:23AM
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mountmerkel

Wow Jane, that's a serious driveway! I can't believe you found someone willing to hand shovel it! The one time it snowed since we've lived here, my husband nearly killed himself shoveling the drive. Usually folks around here wait it out since the snow melts quickly, but that time it stuck for a few days and we (the ones with the steep drive) could park our cars in the garage all week while all our neighbors parked on the street! It's good to know that even in snowy areas, people will buy the steep driveway if they love the house enough.

Lazygardens, I wish we had talked to you a year ago! Unfortunately I don't think we have time to do much now, but the turnaround is definitely on the table.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 11:01AM
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LuAnn_in_PA

Driveways like that are the norm here... and are never a deterrent to a sale.

We are in the foothills of mountains, and 30 minutes from a major ski area.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 3:38PM
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nini804

We sold our house about 20 months ago. It was on a steep hill, with a steep driveway. The backyard had another steep hill that we landscaped and installed a retaining wall about 8 years ago. The front hill was landscaped with English ivy, so minimal mowing...the only grass was in the flat areas of the yard. We built that house as newlyweds before we had kids, and they were 10 and 7 when we moved.

All that said...I was SO worried that the steep hill would put off buyers with children...but no one mentioned it. The main thing that kept coming up was our small backyard (due to all the hardscaping and such...not a lot of grass.) It was the ONLY negative feedback we ever got and I truly thought no one would ever buy it. I was a wreck! :) Turns out...the sweet family who bought it had two toddlers! My realtor said that if a property is in a desirable area and is priced right...it WILL sell. It seems like your driveway hasn't been a big issue for attracting showings and even offers...I wouldn't lower your price. Good luck...your buyer will come! Pretty house!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 11:39AM
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nini804

We sold our house about 20 months ago. It was on a steep hill, with a steep driveway. The backyard had another steep hill that we landscaped and installed a retaining wall about 8 years ago. The front hill was landscaped with English ivy, so minimal mowing...the only grass was in the flat areas of the yard. We built that house as newlyweds before we had kids, and they were 10 and 7 when we moved.

All that said...I was SO worried that the steep hill would put off buyers with children...but no one mentioned it. The main thing that kept coming up was our small backyard (due to all the hardscaping and such...not a lot of grass.) It was the ONLY negative feedback we ever got and I truly thought no one would ever buy it. I was a wreck! :) Turns out...the sweet family who bought it had two toddlers! My realtor said that if a property is in a desirable area and is priced right...it WILL sell. It seems like your driveway hasn't been a big issue for attracting showings and even offers...I wouldn't lower your price. Good luck...your buyer will come! Pretty house!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:27PM
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rijbadgett

what a nice house by the way. don't worry someone will buy it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 9:03PM
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brickeyee

Sounds like you have it priced correctly and buyers have not been deterred since you received offers.

Did any offers fall through on appraisal being low with the driveway called as an issue?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:21AM
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ncrealestateguy

At least the driveway is uphill and not down!Buyers really do not like a home that sits in a bowl.
I agree with the rest... you are ok where you are. Make sure those first 15 lookers know that the home is back on the market.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:42PM
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mountmerkel

We have another offer... a little low, but we are negotiating. They haven't mentioned the driveway once, which is a relief. I'm sure they noticed it, but I'm sick of hearing about it!

We haven't had an appraisal done (I know we should have gotten one prior to listing, but it slipped through the cracks), and it hadn't occurred to me that the appraiser might factor in the driveway. Do they really get that specific? This is our first time through the process, so I had no idea. I guess we'll find out...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:06PM
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ultraviolet

I actually had to do a double take of the picture - it looked almost exactly like our neighbors house with our house peeking up from the hill when we lived in Shelby.

Glad to hear about the offer. Even if this one doesn't work out, I'm sure you'll find another buyer. I've seen far steeper driveways and in your part of NC, I'd find it a non-issue.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 2:15PM
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littleprincess

"We haven't had an appraisal done (I know we should have gotten one prior to listing, but it slipped through the cracks), and it hadn't occurred to me that the appraiser might factor in the driveway. Do they really get that specific? This is our first time through the process, so I had no idea. I guess we'll find out..."

Yes. We just got our appraisal back and it mentions that the kitchen was not updated, new painting, etc. And it has inspection notes on it! (water heater leaking -- which it wasn't for our inspection. And an electrical outlet that is pulled out of the wall)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:44AM
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