The saying is cliché, but real estate is about location, location, location. Here are some location specifics that don’t always appear on the surface but can make a property more difficult to market and potentially cause a sale to fall through.
Before you accept and start marketing the listing, research to make sure a property’s condition or location is not too much to handle. Here are some areas to investigate:
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1) Community changes
Find out whether there are upcoming changes in the immediate area that might influence the property’s marketability (positively or negatively). These include
- Zoning – Is there a nearby redevelopment or other special zone? You need to know if this property will be included or affected.
If a property’s lot is under or over the standard lot size for the zoned area that might be a sign of changes to come. If the permitted lot size has increased or decreased, it may mean that the locality has approved future plans, like new subdivision, public works project, or development that may affect property values or a buyer’s ability to improve a property.
- Pending development and construction – New schools, shopping centers, or the proximity of a new train track are all potential factors that change a listing’s marketability.
To investigate, check the local economic development partnership’s website and area business news publications.
2) Deed restrictions
Deed documents show the rights of the owner. Deed restrictions can limit those rights and dictate anything from who can live in a property to how it can be used or renovated.
If selling a property in a changing area where there’s new construction, or where a future owner may want to renovate, contact the homeowners association or area local government offices to check the deed for any restrictions that have been place on the property and might affect its value. You should check for deed restrictions early, because eventually someone on the buyer’s side will and that could potentially mean all of your hard marketing work will have gone to waste if no buyer wants the property.
3) Public record problems
Clerical errors and assessor oversights can lead to a property being incorrectly zoned or recorded. Be sure to check both the deed and the title recordings. Agents can view deeds online in many municipalities to check records and compare them with the property facts. In others, enlisting the help of a title company at the beginning of a listing period or a trip to the local city hall or record-keeping office can reveal any inconsistencies.
4) Environmental hazards
Environmental challenges include
- asbestos – removal and treatment can add weeks or months to the selling process or make it harder to find a potential buyers willing to deal with the hassle.
- leaky underground storage tanks – like asbestos, these require special contractors and additional time to resolve. And, if a property is located in neighborhoods where this issue is common, values can suffer due to the scare of potential health hazards for potential buyers.
- Wetlands – If you suspect that a property might sit on wetlands, either make visit the local building department or get a report from the state or a private environmental consultant.
While you are researching potential impediments, also look for all the great selling points. That fantastic layout, gorgeous view, decorating updates and motivated sellers may well make scaling those hurdles both gratifying and financially rewarding. Your research will help uncover what you and your sellers are up against.