ONE-OF-A-KIND HOMES—converted spaces, historic sites, unique locations—take twice as long to sell, on average, as conventional properties because they appeal to only 40 or 50 percent of the buyer pool. Sellers must be patient and market their singular properties creatively.
Michele Elliott knows about uncommon homes. Her late mother, Gloria Runnings of the Runnings Gallery, owned a circular four-bedroom home on a sloping lot in West Seattle with 270 degree views of Puget Sound. “There is no yard to speak of, and the main living floor is one room with the bedroom opened to the rest of the space,” says real estate agent Joe Nye, who agreed to market the Space Needle–like home last May. Nye knows that the unique design and $1.45 million price tag makes the house a hard sell, even in the best of markets. So Nye is zeroing in on a small segment of buyers; he’s targeted Seattle’s freethinking architects and members of the arts community, many of whom knew Runnings. Nye also included dramatic aerial shots with the property’s online listing to emphasize the home’s view-enhancing elements.
The house has been sold only once before. MLS doesn’t track how many days a house stayed on the market as far back as 1993, when Runnings and her partner purchased it from the original owners for $600,000, but agents in the area recall that it wasn’t a fast mover.
Elliott is confident that a buyer who responds to the home’s artistic appeal will come along. “Either you love the concept or you don’t like it at all,” she says. “The person that is going to fall in love with it will be an engineer or an artist—someone who thinks outside the box.”