Not all properties are created equal. Some can become very difficult for homeowners, Realtors, and real estate investors to resell. When that happens holding times and holding costs can mount, and properties can sometimes ultimately sell for less. So what properties are among the toughest to sell? Why are they harder to sell? Why would savvy real estate investors buy them anyway?
1. Rural Land
Rural land is often sold cheap. Rural lots and acreage can often be some of the cheapest and least expensive to get into for individuals that are tight on capital. Many deals can be found on lots from coast to coast, with no credit check owner financing and very little down payment. Some are very remote. While this is less of an issue when there is internet to provide work, there may be a lack of utilities, or simply not much to do. After purchasing, those that thought they could live there may end up abandoning their properties if they aren’t used to that type of lifestyle. There is also normally less demand, and a far smaller buyer pool for this type of property compared to, say, a condo in Manhattan. For these same reasons, rural land can be a great buy. If they can be bought cheap while undervalued and held until they appreciate, there can be great profits unlocked. The holding costs on these properties can sometimes be less than $100 a year. If you are good at marketing, this could be the gold mine you have been digging for.
2. Mobile Homes
Mobile home parks are making a notable comeback in investment circles. Demand for mobile home park living is surging too. There is a massive need to affordable housing in the US, and this is about as affordable as it gets. Once you dive into the fundamentals, these properties can be incredibly strong cash flow producers. However, they are still associated with a certain stigma, and most mortgage lenders aren’t interested in financing them for anyone. That can make them very hard to sell. In retirement areas where parks are surrounded by the wealthy and luxury homes, there may be cash buyers, but many of these properties may need to be sold with seller financing.
3. Condo-Hotel Units
As the economy bounces back, condo-hotel units are coming back on the market too. Some can be in very exclusive luxury buildings, in prime locations. The arrangement can be appealing for some investors that would like their properties to double as occasional vacation homes too. However, again, these units can be hard to finance and often require large down payments. Sometimes this isn’t a problem. Even the most prestigious developers and well located condo-hotels have suffered from this when times are tighter. Some have even gone bankrupt. If you’ll use this property anyway, and can afford to hold on long term, they may be worth buying. Be sure to pay attention to the fine print and double check the numbers.
Co-ops almost became extinct in most of the U.S. during the last housing boom. Lenders hate them, and a lack of true ownership can be a huge turn off to other buyers. But a new surge in foreign investment, and the ability to use co-op structures to qualify hundreds of international investors for visas at the same time is reviving their appeal. Just make sure yours is in the right location to draw these investors, and that the marketing and aesthetics appeal to the right buyers too.
5. Over-sized Homes
Over-sized homes are just one type of over-improvement. A mistake commonly made by regular homeowners and newbie investors. It doesn’t matter if you have a 3,500 square foot home with 5 bedrooms, if every other property for miles tops out at 3 bedrooms and 1,400 feet. Appraisals that will support a higher loan amount will be a nightmare to secure. So no matter how much others want to buy your masterpiece they often simply won’t be able to finance it. Many investors focus on the ugly house on the block for a good reason. But the best house on the block will always have its appeal to buyers too.
6. Tiny Houses
Tiny houses may be trending on TV and in the minds of many who are looking for affordable housing and financial freedom. But again, many mortgage lenders won’t finance small square footage units. This not only applies to creative new housing structures, but to condos as well. If end buyers can’t finance them they are harder to sell. But if the buyer pool is big enough there can be seller financing options, or some cash buyers lurking out there. And the holding costs on these properties can be lower while you are waiting to resell too.
7. Stalled Construction Projects
The crises of the early 2000s has left the map littered with stalled and failed construction projects. This ranges from entire new communities, to hotels, to strip malls, and homes. Buying a half finished property can be really difficult in terms of navigating permits, code issues, and financing. But the data shows that construction REOs and non-performing loans have made up the bulk of distressed bank inventory for a while. That’s a chance at even bigger discounts, and less competition. For those that can get in and finish the work, or re-brand the project and raise more capital there can be substantial profit margins.
These ‘hard to sell properties’ can both be risky and highly rewarding If you are good at real estate marketing, have the reserves to cover holding costs, and set up pre-arranged exits they could be a win.