Here is a problem two of my sellers have experienced recently.  Hopefully someone can benefit from their stories…

When they moved to Lansing a few years ago they didn’t know much about the local real estate market and they wrongly assumed that what was normal back home was also normal in Lansing.

The first case was a couple from Toronto who moved to Lansing and wanted to start flipping homes.  They bought a cute little bungalow on a nice street and renovated the home from top to bottom.  They did beautiful work.  The craftsmanship was perfect and all of the colors, materials and finishes they used were widely appealing.  By the time I met the couple they were already finished with all the work on the home and they had had the house listed with another agent for over 6 months.  They had no offers and obviously no sale.  What was the problem?  A very, very narrow joint driveway.  Back in Toronto shared or joint driveways are totally common.  In Lansing shared driveways are rare and with 200 other homes listed for the same price the one with the joint driveway isn’t going to be at the top of anyone’s list.

The second case where I recently dealt with this problem was when I met a young couple originally from California who were living in Lansing while finishing grad school at MSU.  They moved to Lansing knowing they were only going to be here for three years and they used a Realtor (not me) to help them purchase a condo.  What their previous Realtor should have told them is that in the Lansing area data shows that condos  do not sell as fast or appreciate as much as single family homes.  There isn’t a big market for condos here (with the possible exception of some niche condos like the lofts and rowhouses being newly constructed in downtown Lansing).  This couple didn’t even consider buying a single family home because back home it is totally normal for a young couple to buy a condo.  Fast forward three years and this couple needs to sell their condo in a depressed market and it is going to be hard.   

Just because something is the norm back home doesn’t mean its going to fly everywhere.  When you’re new to an area make sure you do your homework and find a professional with local knowledge to help you make your decision.  You can refer to these tips for finding a Buyer’s Agent.