Help us sell a house we don't own!
September 16, 2010 2:46 PM   Subscribe

How can a neighborhood group help attract buyers to a (recent bank repo) house for sale?

I live in an economically distressed community with a lot of houses for sale and no jobs. My neighborhood has a fair number of nice older homes, a much larger number of undistinguished but decent homes, and another group of really deteriorated rental housing. The months of inventory scale here is not reported but is probably something like 24 to 36.

One of the nicest homes in the neighborhood has been through foreclosure twice in about four years. It's a 19th century brick Italianate that was heavily updated inside in the 1970s (in a nice way) and received some work from more recent owners as well. The nominal value of the house is well above the rest of the neighborhood, especially this particular block, although there are other well-cared-for homes close by.

Given this environment, we're concerned that the house will be bought at a low price and turned into a rental, or otherwise circulated as an investment property, with detrimental results for the neighborhood. It could also be, as many homes have in the past, cut up into apartments, though I consider that unlikely. (Who would spend the money just now? There's plenty of ready-to-rent stock as it is.)

A real estate broker has just posted a notice asking occupants to vacate and grant access, so the property is likely to be listed soon. What can we, as a neighborhood group, do to attract the "right" sort of buyer? Could we use classified ads, or social media like a Facebook page, or would we be violating some obscure rules having to do with MLS and the broker profession? We don't stand to profit off this sale except perhaps in protecting our own property values.

A nearby home that was made into a rental 20 years back was just purchased by a historic-preservation-oriented fellow from an adjacent city to be converted back into a single family home. We consider this ideal. I don't know how to reach this sort of buyer, though. Ideas? Pitfalls?
posted by dhartung to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Ask him how he found the house in your neighborhood that he wants to restore? We are just buying a 1924 house to restore, but we have been looking for the right house for the past year. Also the price had dropped ... a lot.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:57 PM on September 16, 2010

Are there enough concerned neighbors to form an action group? Maybe a group purchase, or a fix it up/maintenance crew. Also, try to find out what the bank is looking for. As a group you might be able to weather the storm, and sell when times get better.
posted by lobstah at 2:59 PM on September 16, 2010

Also, This Old House Magazine has a monthly "Save This Old House" feature that showcases houses in danger.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:03 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Make sure the street looks fun during any open houses or viewings. Be outside when they're going on. On my street, everyone who has bought a house recently said one of the main things that attracted them was the amount of parents hanging out watching their children playing up and down the block.
posted by IanMorr at 3:03 PM on September 16, 2010

Write up a press release about your neighborhood group trying to prevent an historic home from being cut up into apartments and send it to the local papers/magazines. If it's a slow news time, you might get lucky and they'll print it which would help get the word out to potential buyers.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:42 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: Well, a group purchase is out, and making the street look nice is essentially crossing our fingers that there isn't any obvious drug dealing or fighting in the immediate visual vicinity.

I guess I like the press release angle. We have enough social pull here, and a paper that likes that sort of thing well enough, that it might work.
posted by dhartung at 7:51 PM on September 17, 2010

Would the conversion of a single family home into a multiunit rental need local gov't approval?

Because, in my experience (cambridge, ma), developers hate it when united neighbors stand up and say "NIMBY!"
posted by R. Mutt at 7:59 PM on September 17, 2010

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