sad face

A Sad Story…

by Jay on August 19, 2009

I ran into an acquaintance who is not a client of mine but who had his home on the market in a neighborhood I know well in Durham.

He told me a sad story of a contract that they almost had on the home until the potential buyer’s parents came into town to pass judgment on the buyers choice.  The parents saw a nearby abandoned building and convinced her that Durham was crime ridden and dangerous. Everybody who has lived in Durham more than 6 months has passed this building and never noticed it because it is buried so deep in thick woods.

Although he mentioned that the listing was expiring I still bit my tongue because I didn’t want to cross the ethical line and even appear to be soliciting another agent’s client. He went on to explain that he thought his agent was doing a good job of marketing the home because his out of state sons saw it on the internet.  I was starting to taste blood in my mouth.

To satisfy my curiosity when I had a chance I got on the internet to see what was really being done to market the home. The home, by the way has lots of room, a nice layout and a full heated basement. It was built in the 50’s and probably seemed a bit avant garde then and has an almost retro look from the street. But this guy and his wife had built the house, raised a family and lived in it all those years. As you might expect they had collected a lot of knick knacks and personal treasures all of which seemed to be in the pictures online. On the other hand, the landscaping, which this man had carefull nurtured for years was barely visible.

What really frustrated me was that the brief copy from the “agent remarks” in MLS that gets passed on to all those websites like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com barely referenced anything but the house.

Unfortunately, that’s typical. In this case the mention about the neighborhood was that it was “convenient to Duke,” a comment I’ve seen attached to listings as far away as Bahama.

I happen to know that this neighborhood is not only convenient to Duke but it has an interesting mix of homes and home owners that include a lot of Duke people both on the academic side and from the medical center. There is diversity and a number of single women who do NOT live in fear because of a nearby abandoned building.

There are a number of new babies in the neighborhood and more on the way. There have been several nice homes built recently on infill lots and lots of renovation and investment has been going into some of the older homes. Dog walking is almost epidemic on the quiet streets, and neighbors swap tools and look out for each other. Just mentioning that it is convenient to Duke does not do the home, the neighborhood or Durham justice.

My point here, and one of the primary themes of this blog, is that Durham must bring its image in line with its reality.

Real estate agents can play a big role in this if they learn to sell the city and its neighborhoods and not just house details like crown moldings and granite counter tops.

My friend’s potential buyer should have been able to tell her parents that they were full of crap and given them detail on why.  As it is, we probably lost another buyer to a “safe” community like Cary.

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