Scared of investing in ugly homes? Unsellable Houses reminds us that even the seemingly hopeless properties can be turned into buyer magnets.
Table of Contents
- What Is HGTV’s Unsellable Houses About?
- Important Lessons For Investors From the Show
- Other Tips From the Unsellable Houses Hosts
- Factors That Make a Property Unsellable
- How to Price Your Property Accurately
- Mashvisor Can Help You Find Your Next Successful Flip
If you’re into fix and flip investing, choosing the right investment property is crucial to your success. However, finding the most marketable properties can be challenging, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Some properties in the market that may fit your budget are deemed unsellable. While most investors would not dare touch such distressed properties, others see opportunities amid the adversities and are willing to take the risk.
Seasoned investors know that there is a huge possibility of earning good returns from unpopular properties—but it would not be an easy process, and there is a lot of work involved. It is something that inexperienced real estate investors find intimidating.
Fortunately, HGTV’s Unsellable Houses shows us that even those seemingly impossible-to-sell homes can still earn a profit. The show helps both struggling homeowners sell their houses, as well as investors who are new to fix and flip investing.
What Is HGTV’s Unsellable Houses About?
Unsellable Houses is a show on HGTV that stars expert real estate consultants and twin sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis. Both sisters are known top-selling real estate professionals in the Pacific Northwest. Leslie is an expert in negotiating and budgeting, while Lyndsay is an expert in home renovation, design, and staging.
The show demonstrates how the Unsellable Houses cast helped desperate homeowners sell their homes even if they’ve been listed for so long. In the show, they were challenged to sell ten unwanted homes in the Seattle area that failed to meet the usual market standards. However, both Leslie and Lyndsay are confident that they can sell any property, no matter how long it’s been on the market.
They invest their own money to make the necessary renovations, with the end goal of making a sale with a good return on investment. While the show is created to help homeowners sell their unmarketable properties, it can also benefit real estate investors. After all, Unsellable Houses teaches valuable lessons that can be handy for investors who are into fix-and-flip projects.
Where Is Unsellable Houses Filmed?
The Unsellable Houses location is in Snohomish County, Washington. The filming has taken place in several neighborhoods, including Everett, Bothell, Marysville, Snohomish, Lake Stevens, and Lynnwood. Each episode shows how the sisters work on a particular project and make the appropriate renovations to the property to make it more marketable. The Unsellable Houses Season 3 recently premiered on HGTV, and some of the episodes were filmed in Mill Creek and Edmonds.
Important Lessons for Investors From the Show
The unsellable homes the sisters featured in their program have been listed for sale for as long as 120 days. The number of days on the market is kind of alarming, considering that Washington is typically a hot market. When a property has been listed on the market this long, it means there are problems that you need to tend to.
If you’re planning to fix up houses for sale, you can benefit from the following lessons about selling undesirable properties that we have learned from the show:
1. Be Willing to Spend For Improvements
While most homeowners just want to sell their properties as is, it is not precisely the best way to go if you want to attract buyers quickly and be able to sell your home for a profit. Real estate investors planning to fix and flip houses should know that it’s essential to set a good portion of your budget for improvements.
You want to make sure that the investment property becomes desirable by marketplace standards. The best way to do so is to make the appropriate renovations, which you need to spend money on.
2. Don’t Replace Good-Quality Cabinets or Countertops
If you want to get top-dollar for a home, the Unsellable Houses hosts do not recommend replacing good-quality kitchen cabinets or countertops even if they’re outdated.
Some sellers think that replacing kitchen cabinets and countertops with dark tones is a good idea since the modern style leans toward lighter tones. However, the cost of replacing the said fixtures is not often acceptable and can eat up a large portion of your budget.
Since the cost cannot be justified in the long run, it’s best to keep them even if they don’t come with the modern colors and tones, as long as they are still functional and in top condition. On the other hand, if you’re going to reconfigure the entire kitchen area to an open floor plan, you can replace the old cabinets and countertops with the current style.
3. Adding French Doors Can Make a Big Difference
In one episode where the Unsellable Houses twins redesigned a small home, they proved that even homes with small spaces could just be as glamorous as properties with bigger spaces. They added new French doors from the dining area leading to the patio, helping improve the indoor and outdoor flow. Such a simple trick made the dining area feels like it extends outdoors.
Depending on the location of the patio, you can also add French doors to connect the living room outdoors. By adding an outdoor table and chairs, you can create an impression that homeowners can entertain visitors, no matter how small the house may seem.
4. Buy Materials From Alternative Sites
Materials can be very costly. But if you’re doing a renovation, these are the essentials you need to spend money on. A good piece of advice from the Unsellable Houses stars is that you can buy materials from alternative sites and save hundreds of dollars.
For instance, you can go to sites like OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace where people sell materials that they weren’t able to use. Also, there are different alternative stores online where you find great deals on materials. In such a way, you can do a renovation without paying exorbitant prices for some of the materials that you need.
5. Use Glass to Groom Your Shower
If a home includes a typical corner shower with bulky walls that take up a significant amount of space, you can glam it up and modernize it using glass. A simple change can make the bathroom look bigger and brighter.
In an episode from Unsellable Houses Season 2, the sisters show how a solid wall can be an eyesore. On the other hand, glass walls with a glass door can make the bathroom look and feel more open.
6. Make the Room Look Taller by Painting a Wood Ceiling
Dark ceilings can make a small space look and feel even smaller. A simple change such as painting the wood ceiling into a lighter hue can make the room look bigger. A lighter color can also brighten the entire space, making it more welcoming. It is a good trick you can use especially if you’re on a tight budget.
You don’t necessarily need to replace the entire ceiling—all you need is good quality paint to make an excellent improvement. Painting is an old trick you can use, not just for ceilings but also for doors, trims, cabinets, and walls. Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest fixes you can do yourself.
7. Work With an Expert
When it comes to budgeting, the Unsellable Houses expert, Leslie Davis, reminds us that working with a professional is crucial, especially if you are unsure of what to do. Usually, sellers prepare their own to-do lists on what renovations are needed to be done.
However, some of the improvements are not really necessary and will be a waste of time and money. That’s why it’s crucial for home sellers and fix and flip investors to speak to an expert in the area before doing a major project.
When doing a renovation, focus only on the essentials and try to look past small things such as a little misaligned door.
Are you ready to invest in distressed houses? Use Mashvisor’s Property Marketplace to look for good deals for your next flip.
Other Tips From the Unsellable Houses Hosts
Here are other tips from both Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb of Unsellable Houses from their interview with the Los Angeles Times:
- Do not rush a listing: According to Lyndsay Lamb, you only get one chance to make an excellent first impression with your potential buyers. Do not throw in a property in the market if it is not yet ready. Make sure to make the necessary improvements and stage it properly before listing it. It can help sell your properties in two weeks, more or less.
- Days on market is necessary: In a hot market where homes sell quickly, properties that have been listed longer than the average are less likely to sell at the asking price. If your property has been sitting on the market for quite a while, buyers will think something is wrong. So they will either make a meager offer or not even bother to inquire about your property.
- Take professional photos: With the current swipe-left, swipe-right culture, how you present your property is crucial if you want to make a sale. Because finding a property to buy can now be done online, you need to make sure that your photos are good enough that they will get the prospective buyer’s attention.
- Treat your home sale as a pure business transaction: When you redesign a property that you’re going to sell, you should not prioritize your personal preference. Some sellers would want to experiment with daring elements and cool yet risky colors. However, you must keep your potential buyers in mind when improving a property. Do not paint your house orange just because it’s your favorite color.
Factors That Make a Property Unsellable
According to professional real estate agents, while almost any property could sell at the right price, there are certain factors that could make a home nearly impossible to sell. If you’re planning to invest in fix-and-flips, it’s critical to avoid the following things as much as possible.
Here are some of the things that make a home unsellable:
1. Bad location
Location can make or break an investment. However, choosing a suitable location should not only be limited to a progressive city. More importantly, you should check the neighborhood and other establishments that are close to the property. Homes that are located quite close to dangerous locations like an airport, a gas station, or anything deemed hazardous should be avoided.
2. Poor architecture
Another thing that can make a home difficult to sell is if it has poor architecture that cannot be easily fixed. Some old houses are designed with complicated floor plans that would be very costly to modify. If you are not sure how to identify such a potential problem, it’s essential to hire a professional inspector to assess the property first before anything else.
3. Tragic death on the property
Most buyers are interested to know the history of the property and why the owners are selling it. It may sound like a common scene from horror movies, but if someone died in the house tragically, it’s a major turnoff for buyers. Before investing in any property, try to find out about its previous owners and their history as much as possible.
4. Unrealistic pricing
If a property is listed on the market for quite some time, it’s probably because the selling price is too high. Most unsellable houses are not priced correctly. When pricing a property, doing proper neighborhood comps and analytics is vital for a successful sale.
Related: 7 Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent
How to Price Your Property Accurately
There are a few things that you should take into account when pricing a property. Your goal should be to get the maximum value out of your sale and earn a reasonable rate of return. However, you should also ensure that your property is priced correctly so that it can sell fast when it hits the market.
Here are some tips for pricing your home:
- Hire an appraiser: You can hire a professional appraiser to assess your home. Make sure to prepare the breakdown of the property cost, including your financing and renovation expenses.
- Review comparable listings: Take a look at similar houses that have been listed in the same area for the past three to six months. When looking at comparables, try not to compare inventory that is not located within the same neighborhood. Compare properties with similar square footage within +/-10% variance.
- Check similar properties that have been sold: When checking the sold comps, review the original prices when listed versus the actual sold prices. Check for similar properties that are sold at market value.
- Look for expired or withdrawn listings: Expired listings are properties with expired listing terms that remain unsold. Withdrawn listings are those that are not yet expired, but the owners decided not to market them anymore. Check for pricing patterns and determine if they are priced too high.
- Use a real estate analytics platform: Reviewing and analyzing the comparables can be very tricky and time-consuming. If you don’t want to do it on your own, you can use a real estate investment platform. For instance, Mashvisor can provide a detailed analysis of neighborhood comps to see how similar properties in the same area are priced.
Mashvisor Can Help You Find Your Next Successful Flip
For a successful fix-and-flip, make sure to apply what you’ve learned from the Unsellable Houses program when fixing a home. You also need to set a proper budget that includes the renovation cost so you will be financially prepared.
One of the most common mistakes of unsuccessful fix and flip investors is failing to create a budget and sticking to it. Before buying a property, get it assessed by a professional inspector first to know what you are buying. Once you’re ready to find the right property for flipping, Mashvisor is the perfect place for you.
Mashvisor is a one-stop database that can help investors find lucrative income properties. Whether you plan to buy a house for fix and flip or rental, the platform’s unique search algorithms ensure that you’ll find the right investment home. You can narrow down your search based on your preference, such as location, budget, and property type. There are also find distressed homes and split-level houses for sale.
You can use our investment property search tool to look for the best investment property. With our in-depth real estate analysis, you’ll get an overview of how much income you’ll earn from a particular property if you decide to make it a traditional or vacation rental. If you plan to fix a house for sale, our comprehensive data, in-depth analysis, and loan calculator can also help you decide how much to price the property when you list it for sale.
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