selling hard to sell homes

A Hard to Sell Duplex in Land Park Closes Escrow

Duplex in Land ParkThis blog is about selling a hard-to-sell duplex in Land Park, not far from my real estate office and my home. Now, one of the reasons that readers come back to my Sacramento real estate blog again and again is because I share stories and lessons I’ve learned in real estate. Even though I’ve been in the business for decades, I still learn something new with each transaction and through each closing, which is what keeps the real estate business exciting and interesting for this agent. This duplex in Land Park is one of those stories.

I just closed this duplex, which wasn’t quite located in Land Park proper, although it is situated in the same ZIP of 95818. I started working on this property a year ago to the very day it closed. This reflects patience and dedication on the part of this Sacramento real estate agent. It was a difficult property to sell. For many reasons.

There was nothing wrong with the property itself, though. In fact, it was a dream listing, if one isolated all of the other factors. It was better than a regular duplex in that it was not constructed up-and-down or side-by-side. The units were not attached to each other at all, which greatly increased the rentability factor. They were standalone, contemporary houses. In great condition.

Location was an issue because the property is under the W X Freeway. That means a duplex located in a desirable area of Midtown, for example, on a quiet street, would sell for more money than a duplex, say, under the freeway. And the sellers initially expected the same price as other duplexes in the area, regardless of location. Top that off with the fact they probably paid too much when they bought it as they are not from Sacramento, plus bought at the top of the market . . . and, well, it’s a recipe for a long struggle.

It’s hard to tell a client they made a mistake years ago. Nobody wants to hear that. Especially a seller who hopes to get top dollar today. I did mention I thought they overpaid even for market conditions at that time, but also explained it was water under the bridge now, realizing my words were probably not fully sinking in. I can’t go back in time to change that original purchase, and harping on a poor financial decision years ago at this point would have been hurtful. I’m not a hurtful person although I do stick to honesty.

Besides, I really liked the sellers. They are sincere, nice people. They are the kind of people who drove hours to Sacramento to meet with me personally because they wanted to shake my hand and look me in the eyeballs. I sell many homes for people I never meet, and that’s OK, too, but some people forge a special connection in person. These guys had worked with other agents in Sacramento and seemed very happy they found me.

Every week or so, I would send them a market update, showing that most duplex buyers either wanted to buy a duplex in Land Park or Midtown in a better area or buy a duplex for less money. Hey, facts are facts. I don’t hide them. But I also continued to plug away for them and pushed for their price. I advised the sellers to raise the rents, which helped tremendously with the cash-on-cash return for an investor. Buyers laugh when you tell them how much they could get in rent if the rent is not already being paid at that amount. You’ve got to show buyers, not tell buyers. I sent buyer feedback from agents.

We found buyers, finally. They came to look at the duplex last winter around Christmas before the rents were increased. These Sacramento investors did not write an offer until June. By then the cash flow was much more appealing. All of a sudden, a few days before closing, the buyers changed their minds and were about to cancel. Their buyer’s agent helped his clients get over cold feet and we closed on Friday. Patience paid off. It took a year, but this agent never gave up.

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