We Don’t Buy Ugly Houses

I’m going to come right out and say it: “Home buyers don’t like our style, Sanibel”. I’m not trying to be harsh or make an indictment on our personal taste. I’m simply stating a fact: Almost all of the buyers we work with are seriously disappointed by the decor and finishing they see while searching for their Sanibel home. And they would be disappointed by our family’s home too.

Why are they disappointed?

I’ve got a few ideas: TV, Demographics, and Appreciation. 

There’s no question that popular HGTV shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and House Hunters have changed how Americans think about house shopping. Realistic or not, watching other people tour amazing homes and perform ‘tv-worthy’ renovations sets a higher bar when they come view homes on our island. 

Unlike a traditional home market, most Sanibel home buyers are in their 50’s while our sellers are typically in their 70’s or 80’s. What’s loved by one generation isn’t always shared by the next. Who’s the best: Frank Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam or Beyonce ́? Your age influences your opinion.

This generation gap also reveals differing attitudes towards spending money. Many older homeowners are more frugal – if the flooring isn’t worn out or the appliance is still working, why spend the money to upgrade them? However, many of our younger buyers aren’t willing to live with outdated finishes and fixtures.

Buyer expectations are also affected by the price of Sanibel real estate. As our home values have increased, so have the expectations of potential home buyers. Folks paying over $1 million for a home may not be satisfied with the same level of finishing as the current homeowner finds perfectly acceptable. 

Let’s face it, nobody needs to buy a home on Sanibel. Buyers don’t feel the pressure to act fast. Instead, some will take years hoping the ‘right home’ comes on the market. Our buyers don’t want to renovate as this is a difficult project to manage from afar. And you don’t see the “We Buy Ugly Houses” signs on Sanibel street corners.

Our personal home wasn’t ugly to us when we bought it. But, since we work with home buyers every day, we’re aware that our home doesn’t meet the expectations of today’s buyer. It’s a good thing we’re not going to sell our home anytime soon!

This presents you with an opportunity.

Making your home more appealing to TODAY’S buyer will help it sell faster and for a higher price. This doesn’t mean renovating your entire house, but a few (currently) tasteful updates may make a huge difference. And if you are planning future renovations, determine your goal. Are the changes purely for your personal enjoyment? Or are you interested in increasing the value of your property? If the latter, consider advice from both an interior designer and a real estate professional with lots of buyer experience. 

We’ve seen lots of renovations that fall short and actually hurt resale values. When we are ready to update our own home, we will definitely hire a designer – even though this is something I enjoy doing. Why? Because I know that buyers are comparing my home to the TV design pros’ and I’m not that.

Most Sanibel home sellers won’t or can’t make changes to increase the appeal of their home. This is an opportunity for you, since even minor updates can help make your home stand out when the time comes to sell.

Are you in denial that this applies to your home?

Or maybe you are waiting for the vintage 80’s look to come back in style. After all, our 17-year-old son likes listening to Frank Sinatra. Who’d of guessed that? 

Jim McCallion About Jim McCallion

Meet the "Marketing Megaphone" and Webmaster behind McCallion & McCallion. After selling his software company, Jim, Susan and kids moved to Sanibel in 2008. With his tech experience, he and Susan bring a fresh approach to island real estate.