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john_meeks20

House on the market for 16 months...

John Meeks
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

I'm trying to sell my house, which I've had for about 12 years now.

MLS: 4513060

Listing

It is zoned commercial (could be a doctor/dentist/lawyer/etc) but could be easily converted to residential. It used to be owned by a fairly well-known orthopedic surgeon. My town is kind of the center for medical offices, although most of them are on the other side of town. Also the local rents are extremely high compared to the price of real estate.

It's been on the market for about 15 months, and we have gotten some interest. We got 1 potential offer which fell through. The potential buyers seem very interested but then just kinda disappear. One commercial buyer was going to make a decision between ours and one other property, but then their agent was no longer able to contact them. We keep hearing that people who see the house are "very interested" and "definitely want to buy it" but then something happens, not sure what.

My dad and I have been putting a lot of time/effort/money into it to try to make it more appealing to buyers (mostly paint and other cosmetic stuff).

I'm not sure if I should lower the price. I'd think that if people wanted a lower price they'd be making lower offers. It is one of the nicest/largest and most expensive houses in the town. We're not even getting many showings. I feel like lowering the price wouldn't generate much more interest.

It's listed in the MLS but I'm not sure if commercial buyers really look there.

I feel like I should be doing more. Like maybe send a mailer out to local businesses, or local doctors, or something like that, to let them know it's available. Or somehow trying to get the word out there.

It's very discouraging because I feel trapped here, and the unpredictability of when it will sell is hard to deal with. If someone told me it would sell exactly one year from now, I'd feel better, but if it could be 1 month or 5 years, it's hard to take.

Also, statistically the past performance doesn't indicate the future, so I can't say that since it's been on the market for so long it's gotta sell soon.

Comments (58)

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    No, no problem with the airport. On Saturdays you can often look up and see small piston-engine planes releasing gliders.

    I think what happens is that people from out of town see the house and like it, but then do some research on the town and change their minds. It's not in the bad part of town but those town-research sites don't distinguish.

    One possibility I was thinking of is listing it as Wallkill instead of MIddletown (because it's right over the border and technically in Wallkill, but the postal address is Middletown). All the sites find a Wallkill NY in a different county (Ulster County), they never seem to be able to find the one our house is in (in Orange County).

  • kitasei
    7 years ago

    I'm a New Yorker and Ulster County has a lot more panache than Orange...

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    If it is zoned as commercial, then you need to advertise it as commercial space, not residential. And if it is commercial space, the value is not determined by comparing to other residential properties. You need to fugure out the Capitalization Rate and/ or The Income Valuation approach. It is a totally different ball game. In order for a business person to purchase it, the monthly mortgage note needs to be comperable to other, same kind, commercial leased spaces in town. Chances are, the residential price you have it listed for does not make business sence. If you are going to keep it zoned commercial, then hire a commercial agent.

    If you want to market it as residential, then you should be the one that goes through the hoops and permitting to get the zoning change. because most buyers do not want the hassle, nor do not know what the process entails.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    We are marketing it as both commercial and residential, which we figure will increase the number of possible buyers. We have gone through the process, it would just take one signature on a form to convert it at this point, which we figure we will do if a residential sale is finalized. Going the other way would be much more difficult.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    kitasei, I could list it as Wallkill, and if the buyer researches the wrong Wallkill, that is their problem.

  • rrah
    7 years ago

    Do you want to sell as a commercial property or a residential property? I can see some good bones as a residential property from the pictures, but it looks kind of office-like. Many people lack the imagination to view a house set up in a commercial way as a home. Decide on one or the other and "stage" it appropriately. BTW--insist that the agent upload the new photos. From what I see, it could be a lovely home, but if traffic is an issue go for the commercial listing.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    rrah, the use of the house after we sell it is up to the buyer. I don't want to limit it to one or the other. I'm not sure why I would "want" it to be commercial or residential. It doesn't matter to me what the buyer does with it.

    I don't know why it looks office-like. It is mostly empty. Is it because of the tile ceiling in that one room? If anything, I think it currently looks more residential and/or blank-slate (the whole downstairs is pretty much empty).

    There is traffic but the house is very solid and keeps the sound out for the most part.

    The property includes a large parking lot, but it could just as well be a basketball court or some other residential use.

    I just emailed our agent and asked him to update the pictures. They are a vast improvement.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Another question, should I go all-out and post several pictures of each room to show each wall (there are a lot of rooms/bathrooms/etc and would probly be 50-75 pictures)? If someone didn't know the house, it seems like it would be just a bunch of random pictures of sides of rooms. Or should I just use a high-quality representative sample? I kind of got stuck on not knowing how much coverage I should provide.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    The schools suck. Traffic isn't too bad. Water and sewer (and gas) are municipal.

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    Serious commercial agents use Loopnet and Site Index in addition to the local MLS.

    Is the price of the property the same for the residential listing as it is for the commercial listing?

    Without knowing the local market, it is dificult to say why it is not selling, but apparently buyers do not see the value of it for the price you are asking.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    It is not listed commercially that I know of, that's why I think I need a commercial agent, to list it on Loopnet and stuff.

  • Stanly Hutchison
    7 years ago

    I would start with better pictures, perhaps by a professional. The outside of your house is absolutely gorgeous. The pictures of the interior not so much - lots of pictures of office areas. It doesn't seem "homey" when I look at these pictures.

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I've been shopping for a house lately and have been looking through hundreds upon hundreds of listings. This is my opinion based on that.

    It's really helpful for photos to be taken as though you are walking through the home looking around. Entering one room (photo) then looking back at the room when exiting from another doorway (when the room or area has multiple entrance/exit. Or a shot from the doorway looking in, then another shot from inside the room looking towards the doorway. It gives the shopper a sense of being there and looking around. Being able to progress through the home via the photos is very helpful. The order of the photos on the listing is also important. Keep the photos in a logical order. Duplicates are annoying. Out of order is confusing! Think also about lighting and the time of day you take the photos.

    If there are any very appealing original architectural details, a photo or two are nice to include, (they scream charm!) but adding a photo of something like a pretty flower by the front door that has nothing really to do with the house is an eye-roller. I've seen a whole lot of that. Make sure if you take a photo of a room with a mirror that you are not in the photo. Same goes for a picture window that reflects.

    With a larger home, more photos are entirely appropriate.

    Your new photos make the home look dramatically better--they need to be on the listing.

    A photo of the floorplan is also helpful for larger homes.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Hoovb, thanks for the advice. I will get all these added to the listing when I change agents or whatever.

  • artemis_ma
    7 years ago

    The new photos show character. Get them added as soon as possible, and when you change agents, have them come in with a pro photographer to replace some of those detrimental photos in your current listing. If you really want to sell, you may need to lower the price some ... that kitchen isn't going to score lots of points.

  • apple_pie_order
    7 years ago

    If you are marketing it as commercial, it should be listed in the commercial sites, first and foremost. Show how the gorgeous house can be used as historic, luxurious and prestigious office space by getting ready for new photos.

    The new agent should have references for a professional photographer and a professional stager. The current house photos do not do the property justice. Make sure you check the spelling on the new listing. Put the best foot forward: is it location? size? multiple entrances and visibility on three busy streets? Remove the "not for profit" reference, it is irrelevant to future usage.

    Here are some ideas a stager might suggest: : put away every single bit of paper, clear off the soda cans and
    coffee mugs, remove the extra chairs, hide the trashcans, take down the
    inexpensive posters and personal photos, put in some thriving big office size
    houseplants -the kind you see in lobbies of expensive offices. Don't
    show personal exercise equipment in a commercial listing. Show the best
    bathrooms- make sure they look like what a stockbroker or high powered
    doctor would have, not faded towels and economy size liquid soaps. The
    kitchen presentation needs to be souped up considerably: put on some
    black knobs, change the black towels to white or red, add a farmhouse or nice wood table with a lavish pile of
    bagels or pastries on a red cloth, borrow an expensive looking espresso
    machine and add four matching red mugs. Fix the slate on the front
    walkway.


    1940'3 bath room up date with glass penny round floor and white subway wall tile · More Info
    Look at some of the spaces in this house for inspiration: https://www.houzz.com/photos/princeton-restoration-traditional-exterior-new-york-phvw-vp~1314739


    Princeton Restoration · More Info



  • homechef59
    7 years ago

    You need a commercial real estate specialist. Your residential agent isn't equipped to do the job. Ask a few of the closing attorneys in town who handles commercial in the area.

  • lascatx
    7 years ago

    If the area is in decline and the schools are not good, it will be hard to draw residential interest even though that is a lovely home that would sell for at least double or triple your asking price, even with the kitchen as is, if it were in another location. Without a good residential market, it is hard to attract and support commercial...... It's a shame, The house and grounds are lovely. Definitely worthy of some updating. What's behind the decline of such an attractive area?

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I think the decline is partially because a welfare office opened up in town, and people wanting to live near their source of income, it's now about 2/3 minority with not insignificant gang activity. The center of town is a place you wouldn't want to be at night, or even during the day, for that matter. That colors the statistics of the whole town even though the house isn't in that part. There are tons and tons of apartments, and the people living there tend to have lots of kids, but don't contribute to the tax base much, so the schools are underfunded and property taxes are very high.

    However, just because people don't want to own here, doesn't mean they don't want to live here. Apartments are very expensive compared to house prices (I'd say the apartments average $1200 a month for a single-bedroom, and houses are mostly under $200k). Also, there's lots of commercial activity. There is a brand-new large regional medical center hospital, which is soon opening a new cancer treatment center, and lots of specialists working out of houses like this (although mostly on the other side of town). There is also a lot of shopping (walmart, sam's club, home depot, lowes, multiple large strip-malls, and a large indoor mall that people travel many miles for).

    I'm going to switch to a commercial agent when the contract is up with our current one (2 more months), and also put together a mailer to businesses (have to ask the agent what type of mailing list he suggests).

  • Stan B
    7 years ago

    My guess: some residential buyers can't see it as a home in its current condition needing a lot of work and it is priced too high for someone willing to take on a project. Commercial buyers either don't know about it or it is priced too high. Can the land be subdivided or can multi-family homes be built on the property? That could be another marketing tactic. If the land can be subdivided it might be worthwhile to go through that approval process to improve the saleability to a developer who will want to move quickly after buying the land.

    I would interview 10 realtors (residential, commercial, and land) and listen to every word they have to say. You need the advice of local experts. Leaving the use of the house to the buyer's imagination isn't working.

  • robinmichele
    7 years ago

    I am a member of this MLS, and in checking the listing, it states "A/O please show for backup. This statement is in the Member's Notes section, that the general public cannot see. Unfortunately, it is so common for agents to stop showing a property when there is an Accepted Offer, even when showing for backup offers.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks for letting me know. We did have an offer from a foreign buyer that we accepted about a year ago but it quickly fell through. Also I emailed the agent on Sunday about the pictures but haven't heard back yet.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Does anyone know if it's possible to somehow end the contract with the agent? There are still 2 months left. Do we just have to wait?

  • robinmichele
    7 years ago

    I'd call the local real estate board. You have not been served well.

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    Call him today and FIRE him! Do not fret over the contract timeline. Let him know that you are accusing him of abandonment and misrepresentation. Cite specific examples of not returning phone calls, not uploading the new pictures and worst of all, keeping the status of the property as Pending when it is not. I would get a copy of the listing from another agent showing the wording that is cited above. I am not a big fan of arbitration or sueing, but this guy has really misrepresented and abandoned you and your property.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I emailed the agent, and he said that he has now removed that language from the listing. Actually I looked at the contract, and it expires in Sept 1st (8 months, unlike the first term, which was 9 months), which is only 1 month from now. With other stuff I have going on, that's probably about what it will take me to find a new commercial agent from a different firm.

  • freeoscar
    7 years ago

    Agreed that waiting out is the better option at this point. Best of luck in finding a good realtor who can help sell your property.

  • weedyacres
    7 years ago

    Three cheers for robinmichelle!

  • BB Galore
    7 years ago

    The house has some really charming features, but marred by commercial treatment, delayed maintenance, and neglected upgrades. A dining room with suspended ceiling tiles? No way. The kitchen is a total gut job. And since the listing makes no mention otherwise, I'd assume the roof, furnace, plumbing, and electrical are all original to the home, and need to be replaced. Between known cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, and the inevitable unseen problems that updating those systems will expose, the house looks like a money pit.

    You bought it in 2004 for $395K, and today want nearly what you paid before the housing collapse. I have neighbors who paid nearly $1 million for their houses at the peak in 2006, and today, even beautifully updated houses are selling no higher than the mid $700s. If your neighborhood were in high demand, maybe you'd be seeing better recovery, but with rising crime and poverty, high taxes, and bad schools, it's no wonder your once-grand-old-home is languishing.

    I'd agree with posters who say it's past time to get a new agent, but ultimately, you're probably going to have to cut your price significantly. Good luck.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    BB, The suspended ceiling is in the room next to the dining room, not the dining room. The roof is 50-year architectural shingles that we had installed about 8 years ago. Also the siding is new fiberglass siding that never needs to be painted. The furnaces are new. The electrical is original but it is all BX (spiral-metal-shielded) and is in good shape. The plumbing is all threaded bronze, and is in good shape. Basically, we fixed all the non-cosmetic problems, pretty much all that remains is only cosmetic. We spent a lot of money doing it, too (150-200k, don't know the exact amount off the top of my head).

    When we sold our last house, the agent said that we shouldn't talk about improvements that we'd done because people expect them to have been done. I'm not sure what we should say about that in our listing.

    I am hoping that being able to sell it as commercial will help with the price, since there is a lot of commercial activity around here. And for the $400k the house was a complete mess, and it is in much better shape now.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Also, I think the fact that you assume it's a money pit with lots of deferred maintenance means that potential buyers will too. What can we do to convince them otherwise?

  • kitasei
    7 years ago

    Don't be pessimistic - there are plenty of people like me who fall again and again for old money pits! We are the helpless romantics, who are blind to practical faults and see all the elements that can't be replaced in new houses. Charm. Quality workmanship and materials. Scale. Mature landscaping. Choice locations. Emphasize all of those things and work the words "updated" and "loved" into the description. And don't be pessimistic about Middletown, NY either. You are in the heart of the Hudson River Valley, whose scenery inspired the nation's first art and cultural awakening. If prices have not recovered there yet, they will. They are working their way up the valley..

  • dchall_san_antonio
    7 years ago

    45 years ago I used to take pictures of model homes. A lot has changed, but a lot hasn't. You need professional, or at least, thoughtful pictures.

    Having just remodeled and staged two houses here's what I see.

    $10-$30,000 worth of asphalt and hardscape repairs to make it presentable as a doctor's or attorney's offices.

    A poor view of a high power tower and lines needs another tree or two.

    A chain link fence that needs to go.

    Leaf raking and dead limbs in the trees - need a better picture.

    Broken concrete in the street around the house. Get the city out to fix that.

    $12,000 needed to add covered parking

    $20,000 kitchen remodel plus appliances

    House full of office and other commercial furniture with the occasional uninviting stuffed chair, sofa, and bed. Stage the house better.

    Too much stuff on some walls.

    Window air conditioners - replace with either central air or with a mini split heat pump. Doctors and attorneys need humidity control. Opening a window won't cut it.

    Drop ceiling - remove and repair whatever damage that's hiding

    $10,000 per bathroom gut and remodel

    Industrial shelving and a purple screen on the wall? Sure that will not be there for the new buyer, but leave those pictures off the listing.

    Picture #17 at the top of the stairs is the first one showing some charm. Shame there's an industrial fluorescent light fixture up there. Those 6-panel doors need to be repainted one color.

    $5,000 remodel for kitchen number 2

    Room with the clock, overstuffed chair, and brown carpet needs new carpet and paint.

    $20,000 in interior painting minimum.

    So I'm up to about $120,000 in remodeling and repairs. Anyone who buys this will have to wait six months to move in just to get it looking right and cleaned up. Are all your kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinetry absolutely spotless - and I mean spotless to a critical eye? If not then it's not ready to move in.

    Overall poor pictures. They are dark, there is no pizzazz, they have a yellowish cast, and they were taken from a poor angle (eye level). A good realtor will have someone on staff with all the lighting and a helper to stage the rooms for a good photo shoot.

    Here is a picture of a room with actual yellow walls, but the photographer's lighting washes that out to make it look much better. The browns of the floor, table, clock fan, rug, sofa, and fireplace are accented with the reds from the chairs and pillows which are further accented with the zebra pillows. The green plant brings in that color along with the artificial flowers on the mantle. It's hard to see but this was taken a little lower than waist level - right at the level of the top of the sofa.

    That was a 1939 era house. The furniture happened to be the owners, but a lot of extra stuff was removed for staging. The photographer used a very wide angle lens to widen the view and push back the far corner making the room look bigger. Finally multiple flash units mixed with a high dynamic range filtering makes the picture look much better than the actual room looks.

    Are your bathrooms smaller than 100 square feet including linen storage? Today buyers are looking for larger bathrooms. Can a creative remodeler knock down some walls to enlarge the small bathrooms to 100 square feet?

    If your house was in a pristine neighborhood where all the houses were well kept and values had been increasing steadily 1-3% per year over the past 30 years, it would be a steal at your price. Someone suggested the town was in decline, which makes this a poor investment but still a livable home for someone over a very long term. Still, it needs work to satisfy a modern buyer.

  • Stan B
    7 years ago

    You need to interview many realtors (residential, commercial, multi-family) and get their opinions on how to market this property (home, business, or subdivide). You can market the updates you've done but its pretty clear that it still needs a lot of work to make it into a modern home or a modern professional building.

  • kitasei
    7 years ago

    I agree with all of the suggestions to gather as much intelligence as possible about marketing the property, but don't think some of the advice applies to this region. Many professional offices occupy old buildings here. There is often ample on street parking. Many businesses here appreciate uniqueness and not demand what those in Texas may consider requirements. The major problem has been identified in the MLS listing. That may be all it is.. and the fact that unique properties at the higher end of the market take time to be found by the right buyer. Do not panic.

  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here is my honest opinion -

    The first picture is a show stopper. My eyes literally lit up. Keep scrolling and the exterior doesn't disappoint (although I wondered if there was a garage, but didn't worry about the garage long because I was still mesmerized by the exterior beauty).

    Then we get to the interior. It's a total let down after seeing the exterior. I couldn't find one room I liked. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm all for remodeling and putting my stamp on things, but every room screams "money"....

    Toward the end of the pics there are some rooms that don't look bad.. But I could barely make it that far in the pictures after seeing the kitchen and the rooms with the drop ceilings.

    If you have done updates then list them. Also get new pics if they don't show the updates.

    I can't express enough how beautiful the exterior is... And then walking inside is a total let down. I'd get some better pics.. And list the kitchen picture last if you're not going to update it..

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Street parking is not required, there is an 18-car parking lot.

    I have new pictures going up in the next few days.

  • User
    7 years ago

    That's great news! Good luck. Also, I was looking at it from a home buyer's perspective. A business may not care about the garage or kitchen.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    There is a detached 2-car garage with an extended workshop behind it. Also there is a 2nd kitchen upstairs that someone could use while remodeling the one downstairs. From personal experience, the medical businesses around here don't really care how things look, I have been in medical buildings here with horribly shoddy new construction.

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    Could you post a link to the commercial listing? And how much lease rent could this property generate, based on comps? This is the # that primarily determines what it is worth to a business man.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Once there is a commercial listing, I will post a link. And I will let you know about the rent once I ask a commercial agent.

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    I was confused... I thought you said earlier that it was being marketed as both residential and commercial.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    The zoning will allow it to be used as either one, which is reflected in the description, but as far as I know it's only marketed on the MLS right now. I want to also begin to market it more specifically to commercial entities.

  • Boopadaboo
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I live in the same county as this house. I would say that the price seems a bit high for residential given the school district and the amount of work it appears to need. I would definitely interview multiple realtors. We found a fantastic realtor by watching the signs in our neighborhood and calling on a realtor that had recently sold a house down the street. Professional pictures make a big difference around here too.

    Our realtor had professional photos taken, had us on her office realtor open house tour and a local realtor open house tour. Knock wood we got an offer in under a month. I expected much much longer given I live in an area that is not too desirable to locals for other reasons than your town.

    there is also something to be said for small changes in price. While mine was listed and I was looking for a new house, I looked daily at trulia to see what new had come on the market and what new had dropped price. it kept the houses popping up on the radar even when they made 1k drops. I see that a lot around here. Sadly, you are getting to the end of the busy season here. that can be good if there is someone looking, but for residential I dont think as many are looking right now so there is a lower pool of people looking.

    I am not so sure changing the town will make a difference. I can say that I only look at school based on school district since it is so confusing around here with the school borders vs town borders.

    hope that helps some, it sounds like you are going the commercial route which I am sure is much different and I have no experience there! :) I bet that is a better bet...

    : similar house in the same district

    another house for much less in your district

  • User
    7 years ago

    Holy cow Boo... nice houses for cheap...but the property taxes are more than double what we pay. And we live in a hcol area.

  • SaltiDawg
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    And here is an even older home within 10 minutes of the OP's home

    for $25,000 more - with much lower property txes!

    Based on www, which would you view first?

  • User
    7 years ago

    Yes, if you are looking for a house to live in there are a lot of better choices.

    Hence the move to commercial.

  • Boopadaboo
    7 years ago

    Sadly, unless you live in a very old house, in most of this county, taxes are very high. not as high as rockland county or westchester, but pretty high!

  • ncrealestateguy
    7 years ago

    To the OP... just because it may be more marketable as a commercial property, that does not mean that it is worth more than you are asking for it now.

  • John Meeks
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    New photos and description are up in the listing.

    Listing