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Unconventional Homes for Sale: What to Know Before You Buy

Before you make an offer on a unique home, you may want to consider the long-term ramifications. If you need your home to be an investment for your future, here are things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Before you make an offer on a unique home, you may want to consider the long-term ramifications. If you need your home to be an investment for your future, here are things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

Unless you take photos or notes, it can be hard to keep track of the houses your realtor shows you on a full day of house hunting. All the great rooms are painted in a neutral “Mindful Gray.” The white kitchen cabinets all feature black granite countertops. The backyards all have the requisite number of trees planted artfully along the border of the property.

And then your realtor pulls up to the last house scheduled for the day, and you can tell you won’t need to take notes on this property. This home is memorable!

Is “memorable” a good adjective to use when purchasing a home? For some who are quickly bored with everyday life, they may seek out unconventional homes for sale. Others stumble across these homes and pause to consider what it might be like living in a unique home.

If you have found such a home and are considering making an offer, here are some things you should think about before signing on the dotted line.

Resale May Be Difficult

The main problem with purchasing a unique home is not knowing how easily you will be able to sell the property when you are ready to move.

You may feel that your one-of-a-kind home will be your home for life, but you may find yourself in a position of not being able to care for a converted lighthouse any longer because you have bad knees.

You may go through a divorce because your wife never quite understood your need to live in a home shaped like a teepee.

At some point, someone is going to have to sell your unique home. Perhaps it won’t be you. You may be so content staying in your renovated submarine or your home that looks like a gingerbread house that you will remain there until you move on to your eternal home.

If it’s not you, it may be your children or heirs who will be faced with the task of selling a house with portholes instead of traditional windows.

Will this property be easy to sell if the owner needs money fast? Will this home increase or decrease in value through time? Are you sure you will have the luxury of time to find the perfect new owner for your one-of-a-kind property? Do you have an idea on how to stage this unique house for sale?

Finding a Lender

It may prove challenging to find a lender for a unique property. Perhaps your real estate agent may help guide you in the right direction to find the right online or brick and mortar lending institutions. Maybe there are some that have more lenient policies regarding the type of dwelling that can be purchased.

Be prepared in having to offer more money as a down payment. You also may not qualify for the lowest interest rate.

Unhappy neighbors

Even if the previous owner was the person who removed all the grass and landscaping and brought in tons of sand to cover the front yard, if you bought the crazy house in the neighborhood, you will forever be blamed.

You will be blamed for the increased traffic on your street as slow drivers gander at the property as they drive by.

You will be blamed when your neighbors have a difficult time selling their own homes because the out-of-place palm trees are adjacent to their property.

You will be blamed for not removing the ridiculous beach from your front yard, especially since you live over 1,000 miles from the ocean.

If you can live with having unhappy neighbors, then buying a one-of-a-kind house may be for you.

Cost of Renovations

What if you live in a circular home, but you want to add more kitchen cabinets? You will have to find someone to custom-make unique cabinetry. What if you find out the converted barn you purchased to live in is not up to code for wiring or plumbing?

Contractors working on unique properties may feel that they can charge more just because they may be the only ones willing to work on a one-of-a-kind house.

But At Least It’s Unique!

There are some good points to having a unique home. For one, it’s a great conversation starter when you meet someone at a party.

Perhaps if your new home resides in the 40 states that have a home buyer’s rebate program, you could qualify to save some money.

Seriously, life is short, and as you approach your middle age and golden years, you may realize that you should have approached life with more whimsy and fun. Perhaps buying a fun house is all you need to spice up your life.

Talk With an Expert

Regardless of your choice of home, if your house is a significant component of your long-term investment plan, you need to have a serious talk with your Clever Partner Agent before you buy a unique property.

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Ben Mizes

Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top agents to save thousands on commission. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.

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