Ten Easy Ways to Sell a Good Home in a Bad Neighborhood

If you are having problems selling your recently remodeled house because the neighborhood is in decline there are things you can do to improve your chances of selling your house in spite of the neighborhood conditions.  The best strategy is to minimize attention paid to the problem areas of your neighborhood and to maximize the neighborhood’s benefits and attractive features.  Here are some strategies to use to sell your house in spite of it’s surroundings.

If the Whole Neighborhood is in Decline

1.  Find the most attractive route to your house, even if it isn’t the most direct and promote that route when giving directions to the house like in the MLS directions or on any handout promoting your house.

The showing appointment starts the minute they enter your neighborhood.  Buyers are looking at nearby shopping areas, parks, schools, and the neighborhood.  Be sure to help them find the positives of your neighborhood and try to minimize the negatives.  If you’re near a shopping center, start your directions there and pick the most attractive route to get to your house.  This will give buyers a more favorable view of your neighborhood.  Advertise this route on MLS under “Driving Directions” and include it in your handouts.  If the route is obviously not the most direct route, then don’t show a map, but list the directions in a step-by-step format.

2. When conducting an open house, only post open house signs directing traffic through the most attractive route to your house.  Don’t put signs up in the bad areas.

Don’t post open house signs in the bad parts of the neighborhood.  Pick the best route and post open house signs on each intersection guiding them to your house.  Put lots of signs up in your yard to let buyers know they’ve arrived at an open house.

3.  Enhance curb appeal by powerwashing and painting your home, trimming trees, bright colored flower beds, and heavily water and fertilize your lawn.

We posted an article that has many great tips for enhancing curb appeal.

4.  Consider owner-financing part or all of the price of the home.

By offering owner-financing, you increase the number of buyers that can afford to buy your home.  There are lots of risks to this so it’s not  for the faint of heart.  You have to screen your buyer and determine if they can pay.  If you’re wrong, you’ll have to foreclose, evict and start all over again.

5.  Spend as little as possible in improvements so you can have more room to lower the price.

This is the most important tip.  More than likely, you’ll have to lower your price to that of the neighborhood’s price range.  If that happens, you’ll want to spend as little as possible to give you the ability to lower the price without losing money or as little money as possible.

If Your Neighbor’s House is the Problem

6.  Show the problem in the MLS photos so buyers will be aware of the problem before coming.

Honesty is the best policy.  If your house is in front of a utility water tower, or next to a school playground, let buyers know about it before they see the property.  Besides the adjacent stigma, also promote the nearby benefits too.

7.  If the neighbors don’t keep their yard properly maintained, offer to mow their yard while your house is for sale.

Sure, it’s extra work, but you guarantee the work is done when you want it, and it’s done to your standards.  It’s always nice to see a row of nicely maintained yards at an open house.  If there’s a public facility across the street, like a school, mow the area near the street.  Be sure to taper the mower on the last row to blend it in with the non-mowed part.   Pick up all litter on the whole block too.

8.  Consider fencing or planting trees and shrubbery to hide unattractive neighboring yards.

Sometimes the best way to deal with unattractive neighborhoods is to hide them from view.  This keeps the buyer focused on your house and minimizes distractions from unattractive features of the neighborhood.

9.  Find the best time of day when the problem area is the least noticeable and schedule showings during that time.

Sometime unattractive features are more unattractive than others.  Schools are certainly less attractive when the streets are congested with traffic from parents picking up their kids from school.  If the neighbors like to hang out on their front lawn and play their music really loud every weekend, you really don’t want to schedule showings during that time.

Find the Right Agent that can Help

10.  Find a good real estate agent that can help you overcome those shortcomings.

Ultimately there’s no hiding a bad neighborhood from buyers.  However, a good Realtor can position your house in the market to make it as attractive as possible given the circumstances.  You need an experienced agent that knows how to show a house at its best.  You can’t afford to leave anything to chance.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.

This entry was posted in Selling Your House by Bill Petrey, Realtor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bill Petrey, Realtor

Bill Petrey, the CEO and Founder of AgentHarvest, has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Inman News, AOL Real Estate, and Inman Next, among others. He founded AgentHarvest for the sole purpose of making the process of finding a good Realtor better and easier. Bill Petrey is an author and editor of both The AgentHarvest Blog, Real Examples of Really Rotten Realty Blog, and the creator of Really Rotten Realty.

15 thoughts on “Ten Easy Ways to Sell a Good Home in a Bad Neighborhood

  1. The right combination of curb appeal and aggressive pricing should be more than enough to appeal to motivated buyers. If there is a good enough bargain to be had, a buyer will overlook almost anything.

    • Alex:
      I agree. No matter how ugly a house or neighborhood is, it gets more attractive when the price is lowered.

    • 8 years ago, we remodeled a classic 2-story Georgian in a neighborhood of 1950-70 bungalows. The remodeling made our place the jewel of the town. Unfortunately, we’re ready to sell and can not get anyone to even look at the residence. We’ve had three realtors in three years. We’re asking $475,000 for 4,000 sq. ft on a large city lot.
      I am desperate for suggestions.
      The home is located in Lumberton, NC.

      • Olivia:
        If there’s no interest in your house, the buyers are telling you it’s priced too high to even consider looking at. Now that may not mean your house in it’s remodeled condition isn’t worth what you’re asking for, but it may be that the neighborhood isn’t nice enough to justify a house like yours or the price you want. If your home is too nice for the neighborhood, you’ll probably get the highest sales price for your home, but you’ll never get as much for your home as you would if it were in a neighborhood of similar homes in like or better condition. And sadly, that highest sales price won’t be that much higher than the rest of the competition in that neighborhood. Considering you’ve had 3 agents, I doubt it’s a problem with agents not giving the home much exposure on the market. Seems like the only thing left is price. Whatever you do, don’t improve it any further.

  2. Of course lowering the price will greatly increase the odds of selling your home. My wife and I are trying to sell our house in a neighborhood with a lot of low income neighbors, increasing history of shooting and other crimes. The problem is the people making potential buyers uneasy. They just hang in their front yard and drink and smoke all day. our neighbor’s house should be pushed over. I get it, that is one reason we are wanting out, that and more space. I would be happy to just break even, but that would leave nothing to put toward our next house. I feel that we may end up having to rent the property even though we dont want to be landlords to the caliber of renters in the area.

    • Jonathan:
      Best not to ride it out. Better to take your loss now and escape before the neighborhood’s value plummets to even lower prices. If the neighborhood gets even worse, you may lose even more or all of your investment and it may take decades to rebound if at all. I would also discourage you from landlording in this neighborhood. Low income declining areas are challenging areas to own rentals in and attracts tenants that are often high-maintenance.

  3. I’m in the same boat as Jonathan and I want to get out asap. When I moved in nine years ago the neighborhood was iffy and there were two abandon properties on the block but they had been abandoned since the neighborhood was still nice and are now torn down. The low-income renters weren’t too bad. and there was more than 50 % ownership of the residents around me. When I bought the house I read that the entire business district (shopping center) of this city neighborhood was about to be rehabbed with new upscale shopping, restaurants, and condos partly because city living was becoming more desireable and the upscale neighborhood two miles away had no place left to build. Fast foward nine years and this has indeed happened. Upscale shopping, restaurants, condos have gone up less than two miles from me and an upscale shopping center is under construction a mile away in this very walkable neighborhood. Google has built an office about a mile from me. Some houses 3 blocks away are being fixed up and flipped. Unfortunately the one and a half block radius around me remains untouched. The elderly landlords are continuing with low income renters who are now shooting at night. I saw my house on the news 6 months ago from a friends house after a shooting involving the problem family across the street from me! There are other problem families but this one is across from me. Four more properties have since been abondoned. I don’t get it. I can walk three blocks and the neighbood is beatiful and houses are being rehabbed but it’s completely skipping my block! I made matters more complicated last year by becoming a student and only work part time. My home is a small (around 1200 sq ft) so hopefully the repairs and curb appeal costs will be low since I now have little income now. New carpet, paint and a good handy man for all of the little things and hopefully that will be less than 5k and that will mean hardly eating for a year! Ugh.

    • Things may not be as hopeless as you think. If the problem with your neighborhood lies with only a few problem rentals, you may be able to fix your neighborhood. You could form a neighborhood watch, and get your neighbors together to monitor illegal activity and report it to police. You, with your neighbors can start a regular complaint campaign to the landlords, code enforcement, etc. to make life uncomfortable and unprofitable for the landlords and uncomfortable for the unruly tenants causing all the problems. If your problem is truly a handful of rentals, and your neighboring homeowners all agree and will get on board with turning your neighborhood around, you may be able to fix it. I’ve seen similar neighborhoods that went from a majority of renter occupied to owner occupied improve drastically. I’ve also seen neighborhoods where the landlord either sold to better landlords, or improved their acts improve too. It may be worth the fight.

  4. Thank you for the article! I too, am a frustrated home owner who wants out because of bad neighbors. We actually live in a rural town with a nice natural park down the street and a down town that is starting to see a revival. The school system is the best in the area with… the student body is larger than the village population due to school of choice. We have a large bi-level home on 1.25 acres within the village limits. The the property has a healthy balance of sun and shade with a fenced in area that is about .5 acre with a huge custom playscape that we built, the yard backs up to rolling farm land lined with mature pine trees. We even have our own woods behind our pole barn. We have the largest property within the village limits. The problem is that we have low income apartments right next to us with their back steps coming within 3 feet of our property line. Most of the tenants are pretty shady and we feel like we have no privacy when we use our back yard. Well, this is the sole reason why no one wants to make an offer, we’ve had about twenty showingd this summer to no avail and we are getting pretty discouraged. We’d love to replace the carpets and tile in our house to spruce itnup, but we’ve already done alotnof landscaping, repairs, and some painting around the house. We don’t have alot of extra money to spare because we have young kids. We’re at the point where we’re willing to drop the price another 5k…. we’ve already dropped it 10k since we put it on the market in June. It’s frustrating because the rest of the neighborhood is really nice and quiet until you pass our house, then you start to see nasty couches lying on the curb from the latest eviction and unsupervised dirty children running around. So much for small town living, we came from a large city and are thinking about moving back, to a rural outlying area, I guess we made a poor decision when we bought this house 5 years ago.

    • Sounds like a beautiful house, except for the neighbors. I suggest you don’t waste another dime fixing up the property. Your best option is to lower the price so that it’s such a deal that people are willing to put up with the neighbors. If you do any improvements, I’d build a wall along that side of your property to block their view and limit their access. Any other improvements will just hamper your ability to lower the price.

      If you have the time and want to keep the house, you could try these options.

      1. Buy the apartments and make them more attractive with better tenants, or join with other concerned neighbors and buy it as an investment group. Fix it up, get better tenants then keep or sell.
      2. Join with other concerned neighbors and form a gated HOA to separate yourself and neighbors from the apartments
      3. Start complaining to the city/county and landlord for noise violations, conditions, etc. Anything you can find until the landlord improves the apartments.

  5. I just bought a house in a setting I like and the neighbors are OK. The poblem is the area around me is developing and I have just learned that Walmart is going to build a store within a half mile of my house. The store will not be visible from the house but the traffic will get worse for sure. Also the propety for wal mart belonged to a trucking outfit who mainly hauls dirt and such with dumptrucks. This out fit has moved over to our side of the highway and behind the houses across the street from me. Not too visible that is until they started piling up topsoil to the hieght of the rooftops in a lot on our street. I thought that might be illegal but upon checking I found that that one lot is now zoned commercial. In addition I found out that the trucking company owns the houses adjacent to the dirt pile lot. Right now those houses are rented but that could be changed and the properties could become a part of the trucking property with its piles of dirt, rock, etc. I love our house, but don’t feel good about where thisis going. Any advice on what I shoud do.

    • Greg:
      I think you already know the answer. WalMart may not be an issue if it’s near but not close and if the traffic from WalMart is not flowing down YOUR street. It may actually become a perk. WalMart attracts other businesses and that area may become a great shopping center. As long as the main road for WalMart traffic isn’t your road I don’t see a problem. It’s a gamble, but it has to be better for your house value than the dumping ground that was there previously. The problem I see is that your neighborhood is starting to become populated by rentals. Was the construction company in your neighborhood when you bought your home? Did it play a factor in your purchase? Since you’re worried about WalMart traffic, worried about the trucking outfit, and should be worried about rentals coming into your neighborhood, you may want to play it safe and sell.

      If you’re right about any one of your suspicions, you’ll regret not selling now. What if you’re right about all three? If you wait until you’re certain about what you’re facing, it will be too late. Sure, you love this house now, but will you later? You loved your last house. You love this house. And you can be certain you’ll love your next house too. I’ve lived in my current house for 15 years. I love this house and could never see myself moving. However my wife wants to move. As every husband knows, I never had a chance in that discussion. So guess what, we’re moving. Took me a few weeks, but once you get into house buying mode, you’ll become excited about your potential next place and the possibilities that await.

  6. i am thinking about purchasing a brand new home in an area that is so-so…any thoughts?

  7. My husband and I made a huge mistake and purchased a home not really knowing the area and not doing much research. Completely our mistake. We have been trying to sell it ever since. Crime is getting worse and this house just will not sell. We can’t get our mortgage company to do a short sell since we can afford the payments. Any ideas on how to get out of this house?

    • Kat:
      So sorry you’re in this situation. Assuming you want to sell the home, but can’t lower the price low enough to do so due to the loan then I’d do the following:

      1. Get with the neighbors and form a neighborhood watch. Contact your local police department for help and guidance. This will eliminate or reduce crime in your area and will buy you more time to sell before it gets too bad.

      2. Start saving money. Have garage sales, take extra jobs, etc. Take that money and save it for your closing.

      3. Find out how much you’ll need to reduce the price of the house to get it to sell.

      4. Find out how much money will be owed at closing after the sale funds are applied to the loan.

      5. Sell the house at that discounted price after you’ve saved up the money needed in step 4.

      These steps may take a year or two to accomplish depending on how ambitiously you can save a large sum of money. Starting a neighborhood watch and creating close ties with the neighborhood may solve the crime problem and stop the neighborhood decline all together.

      Best of luck,

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