Most houses sell at generic prices and there is a reason why. The real estate industry is geared for homeowners to sell their homes for the same prices as their neighbors’ homes. The whole industry—realtors, lenders, appraisers, homeowners and homebuyers — accept the current concept of comparables. Legislators and regulatory agencies even dictate the restrictions on comparables — the maximum distance between comparables, the age of the sale, the percentage of adjustments that can be made between comparables and they ignore the most important qualities of architect designed homes, their site, design, materials and construction.
Comparables are the culprit. Homes may be the same size, age, and in the same neighborhood, but they are quite different in real value. If college admissions were based on student comparables, every student from the same age and from the same class and same school would be admitted to the same level of colleges. Only when the specific qualities and characteristics of each student are evaluated, do some students get accepted at community colleges and others at Harvard. In the same way, special qualities and characteristics of homes can be taken into account for a seller to obtain a more elite price that is superior to the comparables.
Here are the Five Steps I Take When I Offer a Client’s Architect Designed Home So It Will Outperform the Market
1) Identify the Architect of the Architect Designed Home
Identifying a home’s architect vis important for several reasons. The prestige and importance of the architect adds value to the home. Also, the architect is the starting point of understanding the home. An architect may be associated with a particular style or look that resonates with a buyer. Every architect has a personal way in which they approach a site and how a home relates to the neighborhood, whether it is Highland Park, University Park or Dallas. Knowing the architect who designed the home may also convey the quality of construction and materials that were used to build the home.
2) Illuminate the Architect of the Architect Designed Home
It is not enough to just mention an architect’s name in MLS remarks. Most homebuyers will not be familiar with the architect and just mentioning the architect’s name by itself only adds marginal value. Buyers want to know about the architect and, even more important, how does my client’s architect designed home relate and embrace the architect’s approach and the architect’s vision of architecture.
Highland Park Town Hall is a good example. The Spanish Colonial Revival style reflects the predominant original theme of Old Highland Park. It also conveys the detail and proportions of a building that provides an aesthetic guide to the Highland Park neighborhood and to Dallas.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with the widow of the late architect Charles Dilbeck, one of the most prolific and most loved architects in Dallas. He designed homes that had elements of Texas Modern and European whimsy. Late in his career, in the 1970s, he designed a home for his wife in Highland Park. He told her that once he dies and she goes to sell the home, no one will want a “Dilbeck.” He went on to tell her that for this reason he was going to design a fashionable home that she would be able to sell for more money. Dilbeck’s architectural trend prognostication resulted in a one-story, French style home with a mansard roof in Old Highland Park. This was a style that was maybe fashionable for six months and quickly fell out of favor and stayed out of favor. As a result, the widow of Charles Dilbeck realized she was stuck with the most unsightly house in Highland Park — the only Dilbeck that wasn’t a Dilbeck. Even for the wife of Charles Dilbeck, a Dilbeck home has to be a good Dilbeck, reflecting his vision of architecture, not his forecasting of trends.
The value of a home is much more apparent if a buyer understands the architect and his or her architecture.
3) With Care and Insight, Educate the Audience Interested in Architecture and Architecturally Significant Homes About Why My Client’s Home Is Significant
Advocating a home’s attributes raises the value of a home. Generic homes get lost in the quagmire of thousands of generic MLS listings. How does an MLS listing stand out when MLS remarks are limited to about 50 words? Prominent real estate companies or offices working in expensive neighborhoods might have 300 agents. If each agent has five listings, that means the office is offering 1,500 expensive homes for sale at any one time. Some of these may even be superior homes, but who would know from a 50-word description in MLS remarks. Even if a large office wants to single out an exceptional house, how can they do it without diminishing their several hundred other listings? While I take great care to capture the essence of the home in the 50-word MLS remarks, I also write extensively about the home on my website.
As the broker and owner of a small firm, I can very carefully curate the homes I offer for sale. This allows me to honestly and enthusiastically convey the attributes of each one of my listings.
In addition to retaining architectural photographers, many of the architectural photographs of the homes I offer for sale, I take myself. I do this for two reasons. First, I know what I want to capture about the home, which is more than a pretty shot of a dining room table set for dinner. I want to capture how the home relates to the site and how the site relates to the home. Second, spending time selecting my shots gives me the opportunity to better understand the home and its special attributes and characteristics. Many real estate agents have an assistant, team member or office staff member write the MLS remarks on their listings. This is the reason so many houses sound alike, whether they are priced at $500,000 or $10 million. All the text on my site is written by me because I care about how my clients’ homes I offer for sale are received.
4) Prominently Broadcast the Homes I Offer for Sale Locally, Nationally and Internationally
My clients have an advantage because Architecturally Significant Homes: DougNewby.com, comes up on the first page of search results for virtually every Google search for architecturally significant homes, Highland Park homes, architect designed homes, Dallas modern homes and other relevant terms buyers might associate with quality homes in Dallas’ best neighborhoods.
Every MLS listing is on the internet and can be found online anywhere in the world. The problem is for buyers to quickly sift through and find anything that has particular merit. Print ads may raise the profile of agents or even help agents obtain listings, but it is the internet where 95% of buyers first learn about a home. That is the reason I spend time and devote resources communicating on my website about architects, Dallas homes, Dallas neighborhoods and featured listings I offer for sale. When a buyer is looking for a Dallas modern home, an architecturally significant home or a home in a specific neighborhood like Highland Park, I want the homes I offer for sale to come up first on the searches of buyers. When my clients’ homes I offer for sale come up first on the internet searches, I know my clients’ architect designed homes are not going to get lost in the MLS shuffle of hundreds of houses.
Just as important, I want to help buyers understand the neighborhoods and how these Dallas neighborhoods relate to Dallas and the evolution of the city. A home has more value if buyers have an intimate understanding of the home and a wide understanding of how their future home relates to its site, its neighborhood and the city.
5) Architect – Designed Homes Outperform the Market When I Guide Appraisers to the Best Approach for the Highest Value that Satisfies Appraisal Guidelines
Many of the buyers I represent are cash purchasers. Another large percentage use a line of credit. Other buyers are obtaining a bank loan from their personal bank that offers more flexibility than a conventional mortgage lender. However, when a cooperating agent brings me an offer and their buyer is obtaining a conventional appraisal, I can still be of help.
Some years ago, the foremost appraiser for the most expensive homes in Dallas, Highland Park and University Park did a pre-appraisal on one of my listings in University Park before it went on the market. When he arrived at the figure, I told him that this was a good appraisal, but he didn’t add in the 10% premium that the home would bring because it was designed by an architect. He gave me a puzzled look, but two weeks later when I had sold and closed on the house for 10% more than his pre-appraisal, he was convinced. He told me a year later that he was routinely adding a 10% premium to a home designed by an architect. His appraiser proteges are continuing to do this today.
But there are other ways that I can help appraisers understand the real value of the home and satisfy the lender’s requirements. This is not me just telling the appraiser this is a fantastic house. It is hand-selecting homes that may not be on the same block but are homes in Dallas neighborhoods with the same characteristics and homes of the same caliber that may have also sold for prices that outperform the market. Appraisers only need three comparables. Often, homes I have sold that have outperformed the market, I can offer as comparables and they satisfy the lender’s appraisal requirements.
When Homebuyers, Agents and Appraisers Better Understand the Merits of an Architect Designed Home, the Home Will Sell for a Higher Price
I am always pleased and happy for my clients when they sell a home that outperforms the market. Agents do not generally care about the marginally higher commission, but sellers like obtaining a several hundred thousand or million dollar premium when they sell their homes. I am even more proud of the fact that buyers of these homes have not overpaid for them. Just the opposite. The majority of the time, when these buyers go to sell their home, these architecturally significant homes have appreciated more than other homes. When I represent a seller and buyer and act as an intermediary, I am able to give both parties directly the same information about the home. Good and accurate information about the home contributes to a better sales price for the seller and a better investment for the buyer.
Douglas Newby would enjoy discussing with you specific examples of architecturally significant homes that have outperformed the market.
Call to see if Douglas Newby should represent you to buy or sell an architecturally significant home.