A thorough review of both your property and the surrounding neighbourhood is an essential first step towards preparing for going to market and eventually getting a property sale. But what if there are some undesirable features likely to put off potential buyers? Between you and your real estate agent, it’s wise to come up with some strategies to deal with these objections. Here are a few fairly common issues, and how to handle them.
1. Selling a house near power lines
Buyers have long been put off buying houses near power lines. Not only for the aesthetic disadvantage of a view interrupted by unsightly industrial elements, but also because plenty of buyers are concerned about the health effects from electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation. Although scientists generally conclude health risks from low levels of EMF exposure are extremely low, because we are increasingly exposed to more and higher frequencies of EMF, it’s understandable that more and more potential buyers will express concern about buying a house close to power lines or pylons. But there are a number of ways to get ahead of this problem so your real estate agent can reassure viewers they will be as protected as they can be if they purchase the property.
- Landscaping. Trees and bushes between your property and the power lines effectively reduce the radiation effects, because EMF weakens each time it passes through a solid object. It could be well worth investing in professional landscaping services which not only assure buyers your property is protected from unwanted radiation, but also improves the look of your outside spaces. Jazzed-up gardens and lawns are always a big plus for potential buyers, who are trying to picture themselves living in your property. They can also do a great job of detracting from unsightly power apparatus. If possible, angle your outdoor living spaces away from the power lines or make a feature of an area with its back to them… out of sight, out of mind.
- EMF shield paint. A black paint which is very effective at blocking EMF from multiple sources, EMF shield paint can be used as an undercoat or primer and another regular paint colour can be painted on top. Again, it may be a fairly cost-effective way to spruce up your property and reassure concerned potential buyers all in one hit.
- Wire mesh windows. Glass windows are a particularly weak spot in terms of EMF transfer but applying a wire mesh frame to the exterior makes an effective barrier. In warmer weather, wire mesh also serves double duty as a fly screen for mosquitoes, flies and insects. Just be aware that wire mesh can block natural light which is off-putting for buyers, so if you think your rooms can’t bear becoming any shadier, choose a slightly larger mesh to screen the windows with, so more light is allowed into the room.
- Other EMF-protecting devices. Do some research on EMF-lowering or screening devices which may be used as precautionary measures, such as power point shields, and consider providing these as chattels to be sold along with the property. Be sure to consult a registered electrician before attempting to fit any electrical devices yourself and ensure your real estate agent understands how the devices work to reduce the EMF radiation entering the home so they can pass this information on to viewers.
Electrical radiation and its effect on health is a developing field of research. Addressing rather than ignoring the elephant in your backyard in the form of nearby power lines may widen your pool of potential buyers, particularly if you demonstrate you’ve taken some steps to lower any risk to the health of the inhabitants of the home from its proximity to the power lines.
2. Selling a house near a busy road
Busy streets can be off-putting for buyers, but for others they can represent convenience and peace of mind, so keep an open mind about the pros and cons of selling a house on a busy road. Maximising the curb appeal of the property is going to be really important when your home is on a busy street. Some buyers will love the idea of showing off a home with much-admired frontage to passersby on a well-trafficked street, and many will be completely distracted from the busy street issue in their curb-side admiration of the property. Investing in landscaping and tidying up the green spaces, as well as a good paint job and ensuring any maintenance is done are all great ways to make a good impression from the street. Stick to simple and easy-care garden design and make the most of any street-front patio or verandah space with outdoor lounge or dining furniture. Also remember that a bold, well-made fence shielding inhabitants from the curious gazes of passersby can be a great selling point for your home too, especially for those who love the advantages of the location but still want to maintain their privacy.
Top Tip: Busy streets mean lots of passing eyes so make sure your real estate agent makes the most of this street side advantage in marketing your home with signs or flags. Increasing the number of people seeing the purchasing opportunity via roadside marketing could help the property sell more quickly, saving you time and money in the long run.
3. Selling a house with a sex offender nearby
In New Zealand there is no public access to child sex offender information. The details of people on the Child Sex Offender register including names and residential addresses is administered by the NZ Police and shared with other government agencies, and only in some cases is this information shared with third parties or the public, if there is a particular case for public safety, e.g. if the offender is living near a school. In terms of selling your property, it's unlikely potential buyers will learn an offender lives nearby unless they’re told by other members of the community. There is a strict disclosure process to be followed if and when police assess the need to reveal information on offenders, and in terms of privacy restrictions, sharing any information without authorisation can result in a penalty of up to six months’ imprisonment. If there is, however, gossip or rumours of a sex offender living in the area, or if the home is near a corrections facility, you might consider installing a good home alarm system or extra security measures such as floodlights, cameras or sensors. Installing gates will also increase the feeling of security. Getting ahead of a situation like this will not only impress potential buyers, it will also help ready your real estate agent for any concerned enquiries.
4. Selling a house near railroad tracks
The effect of proximity to train tracks on the price of or ability to sell your home will depend on how close the railroad tracks are, the volume of noise created and how frequently the trains run. If potential buyers are concerned about nearby train tracks, your real estate agent may be able to appease them by showing a train schedule and/or the precise measurement between the property and the tracks, and/or an indication of any sound buffering from buildings or vegetation between the trains and the living or sleeping spaces of the home. More drastic measures may include looking at soundproofing options, or pricing the property lower to compensate for the inconvenience.
5. Selling a house near a cemetery
Properties near cemeteries often have a few sought-after benefits, such as being quiet neighbourhoods with plenty of green space and paths to walk, cycle or jog. That said, many people dislike the idea of living near a cemetery, and some religious beliefs and other superstitions actively discourage it. Selling a house near a cemetery should not affect your property’s value, but you may find yourself faced with a smaller pool of willing buyers. Despite this, properties near leafy green cemeteries are often highly prized for their location and the future-proofed nature of their surroundings, and can fetch higher property prices accordingly.
To sum up…
If your home suffers any of these kinds of potentially undesirable issues, the important thing is to focus on all the ways you can make the property desirable to buyers.
Curb appeal, ensuring the house exterior is well maintained and getting landscaping just right, is always vital for making a good first impression. When it comes to balancing out undesirable factors out of your control, when done well, maximising curb appeal can have your buyer so entranced they’ll barely notice the other issues.
Inside the property, make sure you address the main put-offs for your potential buyers. Odours are a big problem - get some help to determine the source and make a plan to treat or remove bad smells in and around the property. Natural light is something many viewers can't define or name as a desirable feature, but can certainly see when it’s absent. Making the most of light is a great way to increase the appeal of your home. Mould or other environmental problems and what they suggest - that the property is poorly constructed or hard to keep healthy and dry - are major problems for buyers, as are unappealingly decorated or overly cluttered homes. Engage a home staging company to beautify the home ahead of marketing an empty property for sale. If you’re selling an occupied property, at the very least do a big clear-out, and take your real estate agent’s advice on how you can best present your home for sale to appeal to buyers.
Ultimately, the market will dictate whether you and your real estate agent can get around a sticky issue like any of the ones above. If your home is not selling or people are giving it the thumbs-down on the basis of these issues, your last resort may be to drop the selling price. With any luck, you purchased the home with the same undesirable conditions attached, so the effect on your capital gain will be minimal.