Channeling Miss Marple As I Watch The Neighbor’s House Not Sell

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Over the weekend I got nosy.

I morphed from my free-spirited pleasantly indifferent self into an observant Miss Marple, watching our neighbors try to make their home look SNAZZY for an open house.

They put their house on the market a few months ago, but are only now beginning to realize that their house lacks what today’s buyers expect.  Other houses on the street have sold in days or weeks, while their house sits unwanted.

# # #

I like our neighbors.

However they’ve done NO EXTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS in the 5, maybe 6, years they’ve lived here.

In and of itself I could care less what my neighbors do as long as they’re tidy + quiet + say “hi” once in a while, but on a street where almost everyone has…

  • replaced the original builder-grade drafty front doors with something bright & shiny and …
  • upgraded the 15-year-old original builder-grade landscaping with something modern & to scale and …
  • substituted the original cedar-colored deck with something less state park-ish…

… well, on a street like this one our neighbor’s house is UNDERWHELMING because it lacks curb appeal.

# # #

I’m not alone in thinking this.

As it so happened on Sunday between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. I found myself outside crawling around in our front yard planting beds DOING IMPORTANT GARDENING THINGS while the open house went on next door.

I inadvertently overheard the open house visitor comments as they left.

“Nice place, but kind of blah on the outside,” said one woman talking to her realtor as they left.

“Oh, let’s not even bother to go in,” said a wife to her husband after they walked up to the front door, looked around, and then decided against going inside.

“Too much work out here,” said a woman to her friend after they’d looked at the inside of the house and were heading back to their car to leave.

# # #

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.53.32 AMI’m sad about all of this.

Apparently our neighbors do not understand that you can’t live on a street with building lots still available and then rest on your laurels.

Your property has to attempt to keep up with the new houses being built, because potential buyers see those new properties, and suddenly your house looks WORNOUT AND TIRED.

Which means that it doesn’t sell anywhere near your asking price and that doesn’t help anyone on the street.

Now does it?

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

54 thoughts on “Channeling Miss Marple As I Watch The Neighbor’s House Not Sell”

    1. Akilah, I haven’t since they moved in. It’s a traditional-style house with LOTS of windows, a style that usually sells in a heartbeat around here. So who knows, eh?

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    1. Chez Shea, that it does. I really like these people, but they seem to be oblivious to how their tidy, but dull, exterior looks to other people. Just a little effort would go a long way…

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        1. It’s an odd situation because usually people on this street go all out to make the outside of their properties look fabulous when they go to sell their house. It’s clean and neat over there, but that’s not enough.

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  1. It’s a buyer’s market, for sure. Lots of housing stock around. There are three houses on our little street alone for sale, and there will probably be at least one more before the end of the summer.

    Perhaps their realtor isn’t very good, or perhaps they don’t want to/can’t put the money into fixing up those things (for whatever reason). Or maybe they are just “testing the market” and really aren’t in a hurry to sell.

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    1. nance, I wonder about the realtor, too. She’s a new name around here. Maybe she doesn’t know how to get the buyers to up their game. Or like you said, these neighbors might be “testing the market” just to see. We’ll see.

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  2. After selling 7 houses, I totally agree that curbside appeal is the most important thing to draw people in to even look at your house. Thankfully, we’ve always been lucky and sold our homes quickly. I was always complaining that we did all that work for other people! We never seemed to stay long enough to enjoy our labor. Best of luck to your neighbors. Maybe a buyer will like the inside so much, that they will be willing to do the work on the outside….and of course offer a much lower price.

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    1. Beth, you’d know how to sell real estate better than most! Without seeing the inside of the property I can’t tell you for sure that it’s the outside that is slowing down potential sales. But listening to people who were leaving the house, I’d say it was. Z-D said the same thing that you did about someone might buy the place for a lesser price, then put some effort into making it spunkier on the outside.

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  3. Yup. Mom and Dad did a lot when they moved in and really, for years. But of course they let it go over the last 10 years or so. It frustrates me that I tried to get a landscaper in here for several years and it’s just so impossible to find someone not busy with the resorts. And the inside is desperate for updating, too. But it is what it is. We’ll see what happens over the course of the summer. We have our first showing today!

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    1. Zaz, you’re really making progress on selling that house if you have a showing today! Good job. I know what you mean about finding someone to show up to do any sort of home improvement. Painters are a trick to find around here. I imagine whoever buys your parents house will see the potential in it more than the current decor. *fingers crossed*

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  4. LOl I love Miss Marple! I can just picture you doing your gardening and watching the neighbors. We just did a complete makeover of our house after living here for 20 years and doing nothing. New roof, siding on the walls, some paint on the porch. It was VERY expensive but we’re not planning on moving and now instead of saying “look for the ugly green house” when we describe it, we can say “look for the house that looks fresh and new!” I know it has improved the value of our house.

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    1. Janet, your makeover sounds wonderful. After 20 years you deserve it! I don’t know these neighbors well enough to know if they’re clueless about how real estate works OR if they don’t have the money to make things pretty OR if they don’t care what they make off the sale of the house. Kind of a mystery all around.

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  5. We had one of these in our neighborhood. As two houses just doors away sold in 2 weeks, this one stayed on the market for a year. It needed an interior redo (after 20 years) and a new roof. The owner, a woman who was divorcing her husband who developed cancer and died during that year, told the realtor to price it so that the new people would do the repairs. She dropped the price considerably (annoying many of the neighbors as it goes into comps) but still took a year. It was sad because she had so much going on. Hopefully your neighbors will wise up. Usually other realtors give feedback.

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    1. Kate, that’s a sad story. What a mess. It seems to me that it’s the realtor’s job to make sure that the house is priced reasonably, but maybe people don’t take the realtor’s advice? It remains to be seen if our neighbors are serious about selling. If they are, then either they’ve got to up the outside or down the asking price. [Or, I suppose, be blessed with good luck and find a clueless buyer who doesn’t know any better about what they’re buying.]

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  6. I had to laugh when I read this, because my neighbors, the only ones whose names I know, tried to sell their house two falls ago. They even moved out for the winter, no doubt expecting thousands to come to showings. We rarely saw anyone looking.
    I looked, online. Their house is half the size of ours. Their lot is a quarter the size of ours. They have too few outlets. I can tell because in half the photos, there are visible cords and extension and those boxy things that give you more outlets. They have all early 80’s plumbing fixtures. The cabinetry is virtually makeshift in the kitchen. Each room a different flooring. They have aluminum windows on the back of the house. They cut down their oak tree. It’s the only spare lot in a neighborhood of wooded lots. They have no fence. I would venture to say the exterior of the house looks much the same, and as well-kept as it did in 1960, but it could use a good powerwash. Were it 1960, some young couple would buy it, maybe have one child in it, fix it up and sell it. But these days, for what they’re asking, that young couple can build a shiny new house three times its size.
    The one selling point of their home is a corner lot and an additional three-car garage has been built on, so if a mechanic…maybe.
    The price makes one think, ‘Oh it’s not too fabulous out here, but it must be really nice inside.’ NOPE.
    They asked more than the value of our home, which is substantially more than we paid. Their home cannot possibly be valued for even half of what they’re asking. They are obviously delirious. I cannot even imagine the conversations with a realtor.

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    1. joey, that’s an amazing story. How in the world did they think they’d get their asking price? Are these people delusional? I realize that people buy a house thinking it’s an investment, but you have to put some effort/money/style into the house for the investment to pay off. And you’ve got to know your market value and price your house accordingly. Be realistic. I bet their realtor was beyond irritated with them. *shakes head in amazement*

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      1. That’s why I said I can’t imagine. In my experience, the realtor will give a list price for ‘as is’ and ‘if you do these things’ so they must have been difficult to work with.
        I think their ideal situation is that they’ll turn a huge profit and retire in the country, but really, if they just want to move to the country, price it to sell, price it to rehab and go, ya know?

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        1. joey I agree. When we’ve sold properties, we knew we were ready to move on. We didn’t dither around pretending we were going to get rich off the sale. We sold, then packed up and went to the next place. Forward motion, you know?

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          1. I do. I once did all the things on the realtor’s list. With two kids, two babies, no husband. I was overwhelmed. But the listing agent, he was very helpful, he said that thinking about what had to be done was actually much harder than doing it, and he was right. I got through, and I got out, quickly! 😀

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            1. Good for you! That’s amazing. What a stressful way to move, though. I’m so happy to be settled now, but I remember all our moves, and the memories aren’t all that fond.

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  7. The seller’s market around my house is booming. Houses are selling before the sign can be firmly planted in the ground. It’s made me wonder if it is time for a change for myself. Then I look around and see the degree of pressure washing I would need to do to get it show-worthy and think, hmm, perhaps I should bake some cookies for the new neighbors instead.

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    1. Allie P., except for these neighbors who I wrote about, the houses around here usually sell within days/weeks of listing. [I hear rumors of houses in the older part of town selling in hours.] I think you’re wise to bake the cookies. Moving is a never-ending headache + so expensive. If you’re happy where you are, why go elsewhere?

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    1. Stephanie, that’s a great idea. I have no idea if our neighbors’ realtor does that, but if she did I suspect that the potential buyers are telling her that the outside of the house is boring. 😉

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  8. Sounds like you live on a street with beautiful well-kept houses. When I look at house, it is always the garden that I look at first. My husband always looks at the inside of the house, especially the kitchen, to see if it is functional – which I find curious because I am the one that is always in the kitchen. I think buyers expect houses to be move-in ready, I guess we can thank HGTV for raising everyone’s expectations. I have been slowly perfecting our home as money and time allows, my next big project is painting the exterior, but none of us can decide on a color scheme. Ooo and you have reminded me, I need to think about replacing the front door. Doors are so darn expensive.
    So what plants were you hiding behind when you were doing your Miss Marple imitation?

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    1. SD Gates, you bring up a good point about buyers’ expectations. I hadn’t thought of that but I’m sure that HGTV plays into why we keep our properties up around here.

      I sympathize with your exterior painting + door situation. Both are BIG DEALS that we went through within the last few years. Picking paint colors was dicey, but once we got over the price tag, picking a new front door was fun.

      I was nestled in a front yard planting bed between the coneflowers and the Russian sage, kind of hidden, as I was weeding and trimming back daffodils when I overheard the above snippets of conversation. I immediately felt like a sleuth, even though I hadn’t planned on being one.

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  9. I need to do some work inside my house–besides the master and the bathrooms, the rest needs updating and painting. The kitchen needs to be done. But the outside is nice. 🙂 Patt made sure of that!

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    1. Margaret, from your photos your house looks lovely to me, but I can see how you might want to freshen the paint. For yourself. But the kitchen? Maybe the gorgeousness of the exterior will distract the potential buyers from any “problems” on the interior.

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  10. Ugh! Buying and selling real estate is not my favorite thing. I wish your neighbors luck, Ally. With the nearby competition I’m afraid they’ll have a tough time of it.

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    1. Carol, I don’t like the idea of moving, let alone the actual moving! I like these neighbors so I wouldn’t mind if they stayed, but if they want to leave something’s gotta give. 0.o

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  11. It is frustrating when a house on the block sells for too little or sits too long on the market. As another comment says, the TV home shows have really changed expectations.
    If the homeowners won’t listen to advice/look around to see what else it on the market, it’s a problem – for everyone.

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    1. Yep. You said it, philmouse. This is the first time anything like this has happened around here. I don’t know why the neighbors are doing what they’re doing, but I can guarantee you it ain’t working. And they’re such nice people…

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    1. beeorganizedwithpamela, you’re right. A home stager, a bit of effort and their currently blah property would be stunning. I really am beginning to wonder if they’re just testing the waters, not really serious about selling.

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  12. We have been looking at many houses and properties since and before we moved to Colorado. I worked my hind end off to get our house in Texas ready for viewing and to keep it that way. Realtors there give you a list of what you need to do to make it the most appealing. However, here I cannot believe some of the pictures I have seen. People actually have clutter every place and dirty dishes on the counters. Realtors tell us that they tell the people they will never sell the house with it in that condition but the owners who are asking too much anyway, don’t bother. Maybe it is because most houses here are considered mountain cabins. We were told to remove all personal items and pictures and to de-clutter with only one item per table top. We had two contracts within a week. We had a black belt realtor!

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    1. Patricia, I remember when we moved here and I was looking at houses. Homes in most parts of the city were spotless, but in some of the more “desirable” affluent neighborhoods the houses were a mess. The sellers were so sure that their houses would sell because of the address that they didn’t make any changes to accommodate a fast sale. Your realtor sounds wonderful and knows how to get things done. Good for you. Would that they all were like that.

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      1. One can either be defensive or sell their house. It isn’t easy to let go of your ego because you are so proud of your decorating and it’s a process to realize that it’s no longer about your tastes. It’s not going to be your house any longer.

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