You have a beautiful log home. It may be your dream home. Perhaps it was a labor of love when you built it, and if you didn’t, you were no doubt excited when you bought it. You’ve likely enjoyed it throughout the seasons, maybe for many years.
Perhaps you raised your family there, or enjoyed it as a second home, and hosted friends and relatives for any number of occasions or events. It’s also possible that you never envisioned selling it. Your plan may have been that it would stay in the family indefinitely, passed on to future generations, for all of them to enjoy, as a true legacy of memories.
But as it always does, life takes twists and turns, and sometimes our best laid plans get sent back to the drawing board. As it relates to your log home, the day came when it was time to sell.
And so you hired a local real estate broker, quite possibly someone you knew, or maybe the one you worked with when you bought it. You went through the steps of preparing your home for sale, pricing it, and signing a listing agreement. You didn’t think it would take long to sell, because it’s a beautiful place, well-built, and ready for another family to enjoy it as you and yours did.
But unexpectedly, weeks on the market turned to months, with little – maybe no – activity. How could that be?
At first, you may have been puzzled, and later maybe a bit bewildered. Suddenly, one of the issues you were facing was the length of time your property had been on the market. Your agent ran out of answers, said the ‘listing had gone stale’ and it seemed that every conversation was about reducing the price.
Then it became frustrating, especially after you’d gone through the emotional process of letting the place go, and it got worse when it came time to pay the next property tax bill. Ugh. Why is there so little interest in your property? This isn’t what you expected.
The One Thing
What happened? There may be multiple reasons, as there are always a number of variables at play, but the single biggest mistake made by sellers of log homes, log cabins and timber frame homes is that they didn’t do their research when hiring a real estate broker to represent their property for sale. In simple terms, their situation called for hiring a specialist, and they hired a generalist.
Questions to Ask
When it comes time to sell your log home, the single most important decision to make is that of which real estate broker to hire to represent your property. This is not as simple as calling the local broker, or hiring a friend or relative who’s a licensed real estate agent. Instead, these are the key questions to ask:
1. What’s the profile of the likely buyer of your log home, and where is that buyer most likely going to come from?
More times than not, these buyers are going to come from out-of-town, and not be local buyers. Sure, it’s possibly a local buyer, but most likely not. They’re probably buyers like you were when you bought or built the home, meaning they’re most likely looking for their own dream home, and they know more about what it will look and feel like, than where it is.
2. How will your broker reach out-of-town buyers for your log home?
This is a critical question, and it’s very important to know the best answer to the question ahead of time, so you know it when you hear it. Here’s what that means: most agents and brokers will say that your property will be listed for sale on national websites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, and that therefore, a buyer from anywhere can find it. Hmm, that sounds pretty good, but what does it really mean? That leads to the next question:
3. How will prospective buyers find your log home when they’re searching online?
In today’s world, it’s a given that buyers will be searching online. Over 90% of buyers search on the internet when they look for real estate. But unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of real estate websites (including Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and most national franchises) require buyers to begin their search by providing the city, town or zip code where they’re looking to buy. And the majority of buyers of log homes, log cabins and timber frame homes don’t know the city, town or zip code of where to search. Oops. That’s a problem.
4. So, how will your broker target buyers of log homes?
Given the answers to questions 2 and 3 above, this is the ‘$64,000 question’. If the majority of log home buyers know what they’re looking for, but not where to find it, and if most websites require those buyers to start their search by entering the city, town or zip code of their search, then the real estate brokers you’re interviewing better have a good answer to this question.
5. How will your broker present your log home to prospective buyers who find it online?
There’s no question that you want to hire a real estate broker who ‘gets it’, meaning that they know the target market for your log home, log cabin or timber frame home, and that the best way to reach that target market is with a strategy that makes it easy for prospective buyers to find your property when those buyers don’t the city, town or zip code of where to search. But you also want to know how your property will be presented to those buyers when they find it online.
Will they use a professional photographer? Will floor plans and a survey be presented? Will there be any aerial imagery? Will the property have its’ own website? Keep in mind that your prospective buyers may be traveling a distance to see your property firsthand, so you want to know what they’ll see online will motivate them to make that trip.
6. What other types of marketing will your broker use to present your log home, log cabin or timber frame home?
Will the broker use brochures or flyers? When prospective buyers do visit your property, what will they take home with them to reference the property later on? And though the vast majority of buyers use the internet to search for real estate, will your broker use any other means of marketing, such as social media or catalogs?
7. Is your real estate broker affiliated with a larger company or organization that will attract buyers from a national or international network?
We all know that our world is getting smaller, so you never know where your buyer is going to come from. Is your broker part of a larger organization that will tie into those possibilities?
There are other important things to consider, such as pricing. Unfortunately, the list price of a property is often based on what it cost to build the home, or if there’s a mortgage, how much is owed on it. But, though those may be important considerations for the seller, they’re not relevant to what the market will bear for a property.
The good news is that if sellers hire a real estate broker to sell their log home, log cabin or timber frame home who has the best answers to the questions above, that broker will also likely have a good knowledge of comparable sales of log homes, as well as those that will be competing for the attention of buyers.