Lauren's Blog

Why You Should Buy Ugly and Sell Cute

We’ve all heard the saying, “Love at first sight,” right? Well, when it comes to buying homes, it’s not always that straightforward. 

Yes, the property you buy is going to be your sanctuary, that spot where you kick off your shoes and unwind after a long day —  you should love it! But it’s also a major financial investment, and we’re here to help you make it.

Here’s one of our core real estate mantras: Buy ugly, sell cute.

Now repeat after us: 

Inhale: Buy ugly.

Exhale: Sell cute.

Got it? Good! Now let’s dive into why this mindset is absolutely crucial for so many home buyers.

If you’re new here, I’m Lauren Goché — a Portland realtor with a decade of experience backing me up. Which means I’ve weathered more than a few market shifts over the course of my career, and specialize in making sure you can make the most of the market for your goals. Read more about me here.

Why You Should Buy “Ugly”

Before we jump into the details, let’s clear something up: there are no truly “ugly” homes, just some that might need a biiiiiiit more attention than others. When we assess homes we’re always envisioning the ultimate potential and how much effort it’s going to take to get there.

That being said, there are some major advantages in choosing the “less attractive home” when buying: 

It’s usually just surface level changes

I’ve seen it time and again. You walk into a home that’s lived in — no perfect staging, maybe some crayon on the wall. Maybe a wall where you don’t think there should be a wall. But the bones of the house (and really, most of the muscle too) are in really good condition! 

But because it doesn’t on the surface look exactly enticing, my buyers will want to walk away. No! Stop! You may be turning down a really good deal, just because the landscaping needs some work?! Don’t do it! 

It’s important when looking at a home to evaluate an expensive and intensive fix from a surface level change. Real estate is marketing people!!! Oftentimes what makes a home have that to-die-for cuteness factor is just some really killer staging (we would know, we work with one of the best stagers in Portland). 

These changes are meant to make you fall in love with a home, but they don’t necessarily add solid value to the bones of the house.

It’s essentially the same concept as the pink tax — you know, when you’re charged double the price for a razor just because it’s cute and pink even though the ones in the men’s section work better and are literally cheaper… Except this is on a much, much bigger scale. We’re not advising you to buy a fixer-upper (but if you’re into that, check out our blog here) but most “ugly” homes just need a little bit of TLC and a couple of cozy throw pillows. 

Very easy to make slowly over the years you live there, so you can sell cute – for a profit!

They sell for less

Less attractive homes tend to stay on the market for longer and sell for less. 

As realtors, when we spot an unstaged home, we essentially read between the lines to figure out what it tells us about the owner. It often suggests that the seller wants to get the property off their hands as fast as possible. Maybe life threw them a curveball…. and we’re there to catch it.

Whatever the reason may be, it gives us a lot of room at the negotiation table for any type of seller concessions like repairs or covering closing costs.  

Location, location, location

The more money you save on the listing price, the more you open up the possibilities of securing a better location. Making a good real estate investment is not just about the house; it’s about the neighborhood, the surroundings, and the potential for long-term value. Choose an “ugly” home in a great neighborhood — that sounds like a recipe for long term happiness to me.

The Flip Side: Selling Cute

All the perks of choosing the “ugly” home continue to work in your favor when the time comes to sell.

Picture this: You decide to pass on the charming house that made you *gasp* and opt for the less cute home in a prime location, topped with a bunch of seller concessions. You’re already on great footing when it comes time to sell. The next step? We’ll be there to help you turn up the cuteness factor with some insane staging.

Getting Your House to Cute 

Trust us, we know the power of staging. That’s why when you check out our listings, they’re always so ***freaking*** gorgeous. A good stager truly weaves magic into a home that makes buyers instantly fall in love. 

Here’s a cold hard fact: Staging will help your home sell faster and for more money.

It might not seem like much at first glance, but when it comes to your life investment, any extra percentage points translate to significant dollars.

Snagging a deal on an “ugly” home is all about laying the groundwork for success when the time comes to sell. It’s not just a purchase; it’s a strategic move to ensure your investment grows and flourishes down the line.

The Proof is in the Pudding…

If you’ve been following along, you might recall when we pulled back the curtain on our staging process, revealing four absolutely WILD before-and-after transformations (and if you haven’t, seriously, what are you waiting for?  — check it out here!). 

Now, let’s dive into a couple of our all-time favorite before-and-after moments. Why? Because these snapshots showcase the incredible impact of effective staging — it’s a surefire way to sell your home faster and for a higher price. Scroll down and take a look and then we’ll reveal what you should take away from this as a buyer.

Kenton Bungalow Kismet

This property sold 20% above the listing price, in 4 days time!

Vintage Woodland Classic

This property sold 26% above the listing price, in 4 days time!

Here’s the key takeaway for the discerning buyer: these transformations were quick, taking us just 1-2 weeks at the most, and they were all about surface-level changes

So, before you dismiss a less eye-catching house, remember this: every home packs major potential; you just need the right lens to see it — And when you have us on your team we’ll lend you our expert lens to help you spot the hidden gems. 

Our Key Takeaways

Embracing the mantra of “buy ugly, sell cute” isn’t just a catchy phrase; it’s one of our core philosophies for smart home buying. Here’s what you need to know:

  • “Ugly” homes usually sell for less, which means more financial flexibility to invest wisely, especially in factors like location that amplify your home’s long-term value.
  • Sellers of less attractive homes are usually more open to negotiate seller concessions like covering closing costs or doing repairs. 
  • What makes a home *CUTE* are usually surface level changes that catch your eye and are easy to change. Don’t turn down an ugly house that just needs a little early 00’s romcom makeover (take off her glasses and she’s a star!)  
  • When it comes time to sell, we will stage your home to perfection to make sure it sells fast AND for top dollar.

If you’re looking to buy a home, get the experienced support you need in Portland’s real estate market by working with us. Let’s get started  — get in touch with us here!