Playing Up a Left-Shark Neighborhood

While location is important, it’s only part of the equation – it’s not the whole package. Homes in distressed neighborhoods or crowded areas can be tricky to sell, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

August 10, 2015

If you saw this year’s Super Bowl, you know what happens when you try to have two dancers in shark costumes take to the stage in an attempt to perform a choreographed routine. The results can be a bit haphazard!

Just like their dancing counterparts, what I like to call “left-shark” neighborhoods are a bit out of step and not in sync, and can be a bit wild to tame. Sometimes though, neighborhoods that are off the beaten track have hidden qualities and can shine in their own right.

The best strategy when dealing with a home in a left-shark location is to try to focus on the positive aspects of the home and the neighborhood. It may not be in a sought-after area, but every neighborhood has its good points. By doing some sleuthing, you’ll be able to discover what those are, and use them to sell the home. Knowing how to sell property that might be a bit more “hammer-headed” takes skill, but it can be done with a bit more effort and shrewd strategy.

If you’ve been tasked with the job of selling a home that’s in a less-than-ideal location, don’t consider it a lost cause. Sometimes, a left-shark neighborhood will turn out to be an ideal match for someone — and in some cases, it may even steal the show!

Understand the Neighborhood More Clearly

Emphasize the good things about the neighborhood. Take the time to think up some ways to put a positive spin on aspects of the location. For example, you can highlight the fact that the proximity means an easier commute or lower price per square foot than other nearby locations. Also try to understand what makes one community more desirable than another. Perhaps it has many of the same ingredients as other neighborhoods; it may just be that people are less aware of all of the benefits and resources this lesser-known neighborhood offers. Just because a neighborhood isn’t cool or hip doesn’t mean it’s not desirable to someone. Take time to find the hidden gems and point them out to potential buyers.

Of course, while it’s important to be positive, it’s also important to be honest about some of the less-marketable aspects of the location. When it comes down to it, transparency is the best policy — and it’s important to provide buyers with objective, factual information about the negative neighborhood characteristics from reliable sources. Better yet, direct buyers to resources that will help them research neighborhoods on their own.

Play Up the Best Features in the Home

Draw special attention to some of the great aspects of the home. What will make it more appealing to potential buyers? Draw attention to the new flooring, updated appliances, or the spacious interior. If there are few redeeming qualities about the home itself, try helping buyers to see the potential in the house. The backyard may be bare, but with some work, they could have a great patio that’s perfect for entertaining. Some flowers or herbs could brighten up the space, and there’s no reason they can’t redo the kitchen to their exact tastes. Draw attention to the fact that the money they’re saving in a less-popular location could be used to spruce up the house to ensure that it’s in line with their specifications.

Emphasize Security

If the neighborhood is in an area known for higher crime, consider playing up security features in the home. If there is outdoor lighting, mention that the lights help deter potential intruders. An alarm system, deadbolt locks, and motion-detecting lights can help to tremendously increase the level of safety in a home, no matter where the home is located, and may help the potential buyers to feel more at ease if crime in the area is a potential concern. Just be careful not to turn the home into a fortress — installing bars on the windows could make house hunters uneasy.

Schedule Viewings at Optimal Times

Avoid times that you know will detract from the home’s value. If the home is located near a school, don’t book showings during the 3:00 after-school rush. If there’s road construction blocking the street during the weekdays, hold off until the weekends. Consider driving by the property at different times of the day, to see which times are optimal for showings.

Be Realistic With Pricing

Despite what many home owners think, the fair market value isn’t what they paid for the home. Convincing a client to settle for less than they were hoping for is never fun, but it’s important to remind them that it can help the home to sell much faster. Any home can sell; for how much is the issue. In the past, I’ve used a tactic I like to call “compare and contrast.” Show them a similar, recently sold home in a more popular neighborhood to compare and contrast the differences. Nothing speaks louder than facts.

Consider Targeting Investors

Investors are always on the lookout for properties, often in less-than-prime locations. For them, taking a speculative guess on whether the neighborhood will improve goes with the territory, and they may be less likely to balk at some of the area’s low points. By emphasizing the accessible location or calling attention to the price, you can target potential investors along with home owners who are looking for a good deal. You may also want to research new developments that are planned for the area, as this sort of information is helpful to anyone buying an investment property.

While “left-shark” areas are frequently brushed aside in favor of hotter markets, there’s often tremendous value in overlooked areas. The key is to be honest, realistic, and positive. Look for the good, and try to think of ways to make the home appeal to the type of buyer that you’re targeting.

Above all, don’t get discouraged. Remember: Homes sell in all kinds of areas, all the time, and there’s a buyer out there for this home too. Often, all a left shark needs is the freedom to be itself — so don’t feel pressured to make the home into something that it’s not. Instead, give it some space and allow its best features to shine.

Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Brenton leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.