Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How a Weird Home Finds a Buyer
Arizona agent’s first listing was a dome home, which provided a rare and remarkable marketing opportunity.
January - February
It’s not every day that you get a listing for a “dome home.” It’s even stranger when that listing launches your career.
As a new agent in 2006, I imagined my first home sale would be a one-story rambler, which was typical for Sedona, Ariz., the area where I worked at the time. But this 2,400-square-foot octagonal property, with four bedrooms and two baths, landed in my lap in an estate sale after the homeowner died. The house, a geodesic dome home, was architecturally distinct: It had a third-level pentagon-shaped cupola with 360-degree views of the Red Rock Canyons and a floor that was suspended downward and attached to a narrow spiral staircase. The living room had a large wooden hexagonal decorative piece adjacent to several triangular picture windows. Another oddity: A pet door leading to an exterior fenced dog run was accessible through a kitchen cabinet.
Many agents might worry about how to make a home with such peculiar features marketable, but I saw its potential right away. This artistically designed property would suit people with creative instincts, and that’s who I targeted. At an agent open house, I offered a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to those who made it all the way to the top of the cupola, which encouraged visitors to see the entire three-level house. Most visitors expressed amazement at the house before they even saw all the rooms. The event helped create the buzz I needed to overcome the most challenging aspect of the sale.
Because dome homes aren’t terribly common—there were only five others in my area, none of which had been up for sale in the previous year—it’s hard to determine fair market value against comps. That, in turn, makes banks shy about lending to a buyer for this type of purchase. I would need to find other avenues for setting the list price and hope to find a cash buyer.
I called in an appraiser, who suggested basing the list price on the value of the hilltop land, which included expansive views of the surrounding canyons. So, I set the list price at $420,000, and 10 days after the open house, my clients got a $380,000 offer from a cash buyer. They accepted, though closing took a lengthy seven months because of court issues and family disputes around the estate. The sale raised my profile as a local agent who was well-versed in assisting with hard-to-sell homes. It brought me two more sellers shortly thereafter—one who also owned a dome home and another who was selling an unusually designed property built by a regionally acclaimed architect.
To sell atypical homes, I’ve learned it’s key to create events that go beyond the traditional open house to get people out to see your unusual product. It doesn’t matter whether open house visitors are serious buyers. When you’re showing something that’s truly an outlier in your market, word of mouth will do its job. —Rich Kimble, Discount Realty Works Chippewa Valley LLC, Eau Claire, Wis.
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