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12 Tips for Selling a House in an Undesirable Location

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

You need to sell your home, but it’s admittedly not in the best location. Despite your custom french doors, chef’s kitchen, or other coveted features, you can’t change the fact that your property backs onto a busy highway or that you’re close to a landfill.

However, with the right strategy, even a house next to a high-voltage power line or smack dab in an airport flight path can attract a buyer and fetch a fair price. Found out how real estate experts suggest tackling the tricky task of selling a home in an undesirable location. 

Phones used to disclose that house is in an undesirable location.
Source: (Kina / Unsplash)

1. Be upfront about problems

According to Jake Garay, a top-selling real estate agent serving New York’s Hudson Valley, a seller should be completely forthcoming about a home’s problematic location. He says nothing’s worse than potential buyers discovering this when they pull up to a property for the first time. Blindside someone like that, and they may not even bother going inside the house.

2. Hire a top agent who’s sold homes in your location

A subpar location shouldn’t be paired with amateur marketing, poor home presentation, or an inaccurate price — these factors compounded could make it especially difficult to find a buyer for your home. Rather than take a chance, hire a fantastic real estate agent with experience selling homes in your exact area. That specific experience could bring in invaluable insights in how to overcome the mental hurdles that block buyers from considering homes in your neighborhood.

Online agent-matching platforms such as HomeLight have made it easy and fast to find a top real estate agent. When you go through HomeLight to meet your real estate agent, you’ll be able to see the number of transactions an agent has completed in your neck of the woods. To get even more granular, you can do a search for your location using the “Transactions Near You” feature.

3. Alternatively, sell your house for cash

As we’ll cover further in the points below, selling a house in an undesirable location can take extra time and be a frustrating experience. If you’re in a rush or would prefer a low-hassle sale, you could always sell your house to a real estate investor who sees potential in your home despite its location.

Sell Your House for Cash Despite Its Location

HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform provides cash offers for homes in almost any condition or neighborhood.

Investors usually don’t mind a home that isn’t perfect and typically pay for homes with all-cash. You can request a cash offer today through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Tell us a bit about the condition of your house and how soon you plan to sell, and we’ll provide you with a cash offer in less than 48 hours. If you choose to accept, you could sell your home in as little as 10 days.

If you have a highway in your backyard or are in a more commercialized area, you can spin that as a positive. For example, being close to a major commuter route cuts down on travel time to get to and from work — that’s a plus for a lot of people.
  • Jake Garay
    Jake Garay Real Estate Agent
    Jake Garay
    Jake Garay Real Estate Agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
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    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 8
    • Transactions 88
    • Average Price Point $365k
    • Single Family Homes 61

4. Put a positive spin on a potential negative

A turnoff for one buyer may be a perk for another. Buyers concerned about traffic and noise, for instance, may pass on a house situated across the street from a school.

But for families, a school-adjacent location might translate into easy drop-off and pick-up and more relaxed mornings. So make sure to play up the possible benefits of your home’s location in your listing and during showings.

“If you have a highway in your backyard or are in a more commercialized area, you can spin that as a positive,” explains Garay. “For example, being close to a major commuter route cuts down on travel time to get to and from work — that’s a plus for a lot of people.”

According to HomeLight’s latest agent insights survey, 25% of millennials cite being close to their employer as a priority when shopping for a home for the days they do venture into the office.

The survey also found that 59.6% of respondents said a home office tops their clients’ wish lists. So if you have one, hype it up. For some buyers, a home office — or a room to convert into one — could trump location concerns.

5. Set a realistic price

You may own the prettiest home on your block. But if it’s surrounded by dilapidated eye sores or next to a massive, ongoing construction site, it likely won’t fetch top dollar.

“An undesirable location is going to deter a lot of buyers,” says Garay. “If you’re on a busy road, you’re not going to get the same amount for your home as a comp on a quiet dead-end street in the same neighborhood. But if you can prove that your home is a good value by offering a better price than a similar home, buyers are going to be interested.”

Exactly how much an undesirable location will reduce the value of your home depends on the type of situation you’re dealing with.

A house with road noise, for example, can sell for 10%-20% less than one on a tranquil street a few blocks away.

Less obvious drawbacks, like being in an area peppered with short-term rentals, can also cut into your home’s worth. HomeLight data shows that the value of homes surrounded by short-term rentals can dip by 10%-15%.

If your location poses health risks, expect an even bigger hit. A study by Duke University revealed that homeowners near fracking sites in Pennsylvania lost 24% of their property’s value.

A door of a house that is in an undesirable location.
Source: (Bruno Martins / Unsplash)

6. Hold lots of open houses

When your property is in an iffy location, the more open houses you can hold, the better. Seeing your home’s best traits in person can sway hesitant buyers to overlook location issues. And the more people you can show them off your home’s strongest features, the more likely you’ll get an offer.

“It’s very important to have as many open houses as you can if you’re in an undesirable location,” explains Garay. “You’re trying to increase foot traffic and get as many eyeballs on your listing and home as possible.”

Promote your open houses via Facebook and Instagram, newspaper ads, and signs in your neighborhood.

7. Go above and beyond with curb appeal

Help buyers see beyond your home’s location with exceptional curb appeal. Spruce up your home’s exterior and address whatever it needs.

Add new landscaping with garden beds bursting with colorful flowers or hire a contractor to install a freshly paved walkway. Clean dirt and cobwebs from your entrance and power wash your driveway and concrete steps. If needed, apply a coat of paint on the exterior or maybe just the front door.

Then, go a step further to improve the look of your block when possible. If your neighbors’ properties also need some TLC, offer to help them mow the lawn or pick up trash.

Got kids? Hire them to be your neighborhood gardening and clean-up crew. Or organize a weekend block party where everyone pitches in — you provide the donuts and coffee or host a post clean-up barbeque.

8. Don’t skimp on staging

You can’t wave a wand and transport your house to a better spot. But with thoughtful staging, you can work some magic on your home’s interior and help buyers forget about its less-than-ideal location. Dazzle them with touches like fresh, neutral paint; an inviting living room with updated furnishings; clutter-free bedrooms; and a sparkling kitchen.

“The home staging process can make a huge difference for a home in an undesirable location, even if you don’t go out and buy brand new furniture,” says Garay. “Go through the house with a Realtor® who can help you stage it with your current décor to present it at its best.”

9. Highlight positive changes happening in your neighborhood

The addition of new restaurants, shops, or parks can give buyers a reason to get excited about the future of your neighborhood. This is especially true if your neighborhood borders a coveted area where housing inventory is low or too pricey for most buyers. Be sure to share any developments happening in your area with potential buyers. Maybe construction on a new mall is slated to begin next year. Or a couple of trendy eateries are about to open around the corner.

House keys belonging to a homeowner who lives in an undesirable location.
Source: (Nicolae Valera / Unsplash)

10. Appeal to buyers willing to make compromises

Garay recommends focusing on marketing your property to first-time buyers. “They’re  typically much less picky than other buyers because they’re happy to get into a home and to start building equity in a place they can call their own as opposed to renting,” he says.

His advice meshes with recent data from NAR. At 88%, the largest group of first-time homebuyers were younger Millennials (22-29-years-old). With a median income of $80,000, they also have less money to spend on a house than older buyers. Since this translates into fewer options to choose from, they’re more likely to focus on getting maximum value for their dollar instead of a home in a perfect location.

“First-time homebuyer purchases are often price-driven,” shares Garay. “So if your house is in a less desirable location, but maybe it’s bigger and a better price than similar homes in a quiet neighborhood, that can be appealing.”

11. Find workarounds for problems

Many location problems can’t be fixed. You won’t stop trains from rumbling down that track behind your home, for instance, or put an end to crime in your neighborhood. But you can take steps to reduce some location problems.

To muffle noise, for example, you can invest in soundproof windows. (If that’s not in your budget, Garay suggests keeping your windows closed during open houses.) To prevent your home from being an easy target for crime — and to give prospective buyers peace of mind — install a state-of-the-art security system or privacy fence.

12. Plan for a longer selling timeline

You’re probably wondering how much extra time it takes to sell a home with a challenging location. That depends on a number of factors, such as the nature of the location problem and the quality of the house itself. Based on his experience, Garay says it can take at least twice as long as it would to sell a home in a good spot.

“Right now, a normal house might be on the market for 30 days,” he says. “A house in an undesirable location could very well be on the market for 60 days.” He adds that you might have to build in even more time if you’re dealing with a serious location hurdle, like being close to an airport.

A room in a house in an undesirable location.
Source: (Nathanael Lim / Unsplash)

Sell your home despite an undesirable location

Selling a home in a challenging location may take more time and effort than a typical sale. But it’s definitely doable. Keep these pointers in mind as you come up with a plan that best meets your situation:

  • Be upfront about your home’s location issues but proudly share its assets.
  • Set a realistic price. Work with a top real estate agent who can help you maximize value without overpricing.
  • Pay extra attention to primping your home, inside and out.
  • Prepare for a longer selling timeline.
  • If you aren’t getting any buyer interest and have become frustrated with the traditional listing process, consider requesting a cash offer from a platform such as Simple Sale.

Header Image Source: (Elijah Austin / Unsplash)