Do you have a listing you think would look best bulldozed to the ground? Don’t despair! You can sell that ugly house!

You just received a “Come list my house!” lead. You are elated–that is until you drive up and realize it’s the ugliest property you have seen in months. What can you do to sell that ugly house?

In past columns, I discussed staging a property or using Feng Shui to attract the perfect buyer. Staging and Feng Shui can cure some problems, but when the house is beyond cosmetics, you must have a much more creative approach to obtaining a buyer. The next time you are stuck with the ugliest listing you ever had, here are six strategies to place that ugly property under contract.

1. Price drives all sales

No matter how ugly it is someone will buy it if the price is right.

2. A rose by any other name…

I remember my very first sale. I had two gorgeous homes to show the buyers, two not-so-great properties, and one honking ugly house. I showed the ugly house first, followed up by the other properties. Needless to say, the buyers bought the ugliest property. An important lesson to remember is what is ugly to you may be “home” to someone else. Remember, “shut up and sell.” Show the property and let the buyers find their own “rose” even if it “smells bad” to you.

3. “A brand-new teardown”

I remember going on Tuesday caravan one time to look at a property listed at $1.5 million. Even though the house was new, it was a hodgepodge of architectural styles and the important rooms were too small. Nothing worked. One of my friends summed it up when she called it “a brand-new teardown.” When a property is truly ghastly, your best bet may be to advertise it as being offered for “lot value.” One caveat: don’t advertise the property at lot value without the seller’s consent.

4. Market to investors

Since investors do not live in most properties they purchase, ugly houses often make good rental properties. The investor only cares if the property “pencils” (that is, provides an adequate return on investment.) To reach the investor market, advertise the property as an “excellent investment opportunity.” Because ugly properties cost less, these houses are more likely to be attractive to people who want to generate income.

5. Be creative when it comes to coping with the flaws

A good friend listed a home 10 feet from an onramp to the San Diego Freeway. She decided to deal with the noise issue by targeting people who were deaf who would have no issue with the noise. Ultimately, she sold the house to a hearing couple at a substantially lower price.

6. Target builders

Often times a creative builder can remedy the flaws by remodeling parts of the house. To reach the builder market, advertise “Major Remodel Opportunity.” You may attract an individual who enjoys doing remodeling work or a company that specializes in turning ugly houses into attractive properties.

6. Hold an auction

Auctions are a popular way to move difficult property. A $150,000 property might have an opening bid of $75,000. Hold the house open for two weekends and have the final bidding begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday of the second week. To conduct the auction, you must have at least 10 people who place a sealed bid on the property prior to the auction. Establish a minimum price the seller is willing to take. Then, starting with the highest bid, call each person who placed a bid to see if they want to raise their initial bid. Continue this process until you have the highest bid. If it’s higher than the seller’s minimum, you have just sold the house. Bidding often results in a higher purchase price than more traditional marketing methods.

Smart marketing and a little creativity often times are all it takes to sell that ugly house!

Bernice Ross is an owner of and can be reached at


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