Ronald Reagan’s pristine, 50-acre mountain retreat is for sale. It’s the place where the former President used to spend hours riding his horses and chopping wood. The sales price, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, is about $6 million.
The property supposedly has fabulous mountain views, which are desirable for resort property. And, buyers often pay a premium for a celebrity-owned house. Although I haven’t seen the house, some limitations have been reported. The main house is a small 1,300 square feet, and it sits on top of the mountain, a 7-mile drive that climbs 2,400 feet. Also, until recently, Nancy Reagan wanted the property to be marketed privately. The ranch has been on the property for about six months.
It’s unfortunate that the former President and first lady are having house sale troubles. On the other hand, it just goes to show that no matter how rich or famous you are, if you neglect to take into account your property’s limitations when setting the listing price, you may have trouble selling your home.
Every home has strengths and weaknesses. The job of the real estate agent is to play to the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses – and explain to the homeowners what they need to do to sell their home.
For example, if your condominium building is the only one in the neighborhood without a garage, you’re going to have to compensate buyers who may perceive your condominium to be less valuable than a condominium that has an attached garaged with two guaranteed spaces and guest parking. In today’s society, the safety and convenience of a garage is tremendously important. So be prepared to either lower the price, or offer to pay for a year’s worth of parking at the closest garage.
The way your home is decorated or painted can be considered a strength or limitation. Buyers usually prefer to purchase a home that’s in move-in condition, and often will pay a premium for a home that doesn’t need any work. Conversely, if your home hasn’t been touched in 30 years, or if you have a highly personalized decor, be prepared to discount the price for the work that the future buyer will likely want to do to neutralize the home or bring it up to date.
Other limitations include living next to, or down the street from, the local municipal dump, an industrial park, a grocery store, high power tension wires, a polluted water way, and a busy street or intersection. Or, you might have a three-bedroom house in a neighborhood where four and five bedrooms are standard. Or, you might have one and a half baths where two or three are standard. For each of these problems, you or your real estate agent will have to come up with a solution or compensation.
To help balance out your home’s limitations, a good agent will try to focus on its strengths, including a sunny, south-facing house, big garden, good location, large room sizes, an extra room or bathroom, an expandable attic or basement, beautiful wood-burning fireplace, or an eat-in kitchen.
Remember, if your house was so horrible, you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place. So when it comes time to sell, try to remember what attracted you to the house and property in the first place. Those feelings will help the agent structure a marketing plan and listing price that will work.
That’s what Nancy Reagan is trying to do. She recently allowed the Wall Street Journal to write about their ranch, recalling how wonderful and freeing it felt to be there, and how much the President loved it. Perhaps if she had allowed the article to be written when the property was first listed, and had priced her home in line with the market demand, she might have sold the ranch soon after she listed it.