Curb Appeal — Getting a House Ready to Sell

Curb appeal can be improved. Compare before and after on these unique homes.
Before and After — Getting a House Ready to Sell

Curb Appeal is extremely important in getting your house ready to sell.  To improve your chance of selling your property more quickly, and to make your house stand out from the crowd, it is imperative that before you call a Realtor, you spend some time focusing on your property’s curb appeal and getting your house ready to sell.  A large part of a Buyer’s “Buying Decision” happens during the first few seconds at your property. Buyer’s will notice your curb appeal immediately.  Make sure they get a great feeling from the beginning. Look at your house and your property the way a buyer will see it.

Step 1:  Curb Appeal — Drive Up to Your Property

Take notice of how your property appears from the curb — “Curb Appeal”, or, if a buyer will be approaching on foot, look from that vantage point. –       Is the driveway in need of repair? –       Is the yard mowed? –       Are there bushes that need trimming or dead trees? –       Do you have a fence that’s broken, or a tilting or damaged mailbox?

Step 2:  Walk up to the house, and to your main entry.

–       Is your walkway in good repair? –       Are there trash cans visible? –       Does the door need painting or repair? –       Are gutters running over and downspouts clogged? Adding potted plants or fresh flowers to your entry way or stairs always helps!

Step 3:  Open the door and look inside.

–       Does the doorbell work? –       Does the door lock and unlock easily? –       Does the door squeak? –       Are windows in the door or surrounding the door clean? –       Is the entryway floor, floor mat or rug clean? –       Look up – are there cobwebs?

Step 4: Walk through your house

–       Are the windows and floors clean? –       Pillows should be fluffed, furniture  dusted. The rooms should smell fresh – no pet or smoking odors!  If necessary, invest in a room ionizer to eliminate odors.

Step 5: Use my free checklist

Use a list similar to the following, starting outside and working inside. Breakdown things you notice into chores, and if available assign someone to complete them. Once you finish everything — with your curb appeal refreshed, and after you have taken all the other steps toward getting your house ready to sell, your property should look so good that you might have second thoughts about selling.  If that’s the case, it’s time to call your Realtor! Special Finds to do List - Getting a House Ready to Sell focusing on curb appeal as well as a home's interior. Download Special Finds House Sale To-Do List as a PDF

0 Read More

Unusual Houses Asheville NC

Biltmore Estate Asheville, NCBiltmore Estate Asheville, NCThere are a great number of unusual houses in Asheville NC.  The most unusual, of course, is the famed Biltmore Estate, ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects, and sits on some 8000 acres.

Having marketed unusual houses in the Asheville as well as Hendersonville NC  since 1995, I am very familiar with the broad range of fun, unique, weird and wonderful properties in the area.

Take a look at this map to see the surrounding counties.

Buncombe County with Asheville NC and Surrounding CountiesBuncombe County — where Asheville is located;

Henderson County  — to the south and east with the quaint town of Hendersonville

Haywood County  — to the west, with wonderful Waynesville, just 20 minutes from Asheville;

Madison County — with the artistic and farming communities of Marshall and Mars Hill;

Polk County — with the horse country of Tryon;

Transylvania County — with the beautiful college town of Brevard, and over 250 waterfalls!

Yancey County — to the north and east, with Burnsville;

You don’t have to drive far from Asheville to find unique properties.  One such property is located in Waynesville.  Named “Echo” by the owner, this property at 326 Howling Wolf Trail (not on GPS!) was given that name because she believed that “you get back what you put into something”.

asheville nc area homes range from modern and eclectic to antique

With over 5800 square feet, this home with professional chef’s kitchen has every amenity you can imagine is priced almost $300,000 under appraised value!

Modern Houses for Sale,  Log Cabins and Rustic Homes,  Historic Houses for SaleHorse Properties and FarmsCountry FarmhousesWaterfront or Water View Houses for Sale


0 Read More

How to Price a House | Pricing a Unique Home

Agents Learn How to Price a House in Real Estate School

Some 27 years ago, when I became a brand new real estate agent, I learned how to price a house.  We compared five or six houses in a subdivision, located along a single street.

Each house had basically the same look from the outside.  Some had garages and/or decks; some had more bedrooms or baths than others; some had upgrades that other houses didn’t – a new kitchen, upgraded bathroom, etc.  We learned how to price a house, by comparing the neighboring properties to the “subject” house – the house we were trying to determine how to price.  We used a form like the one below:



These days, determining a house price is done pretty much the same way.  You may not find a comparable house on the same street, or even in the same development, but usually, you can find a similar property within a reasonable distance.  This rule generally applies to the pricing of more standard properties.

Once you establish a rough price, the rule of thumb is to list your property slightly higher than recently sold comparable houses, and slightly lower than comparable properties that are actively on the market. This should give your house a slight edge over the competition.

Don’t make the mistake of pricing your house too high to compensate for a desire to negotiate!  These days, buyers are savvy, and there are a lot more houses available for sale than there have been in many years.

It is far better to have more showings and less room to negotiate than a lot of room to negotiate and no showings!

Determining how to price a house can often be challenging as was the case in this very unique SteelMaster Quonset Hut.

We listed this SteelMaster Quonset hut a couple years ago. It was well-known as the most unusual house in the county. Of course, there were no comparable properties anywhere near, not even in the state of NC.

 Determining how to price a house can be quite challenging, especially if you own a unique house!

As you can imagine, a unique house may have nothing similar to compare it.  Unusual houses are not generally located in a subdivision or development.  Sometimes it is necessary to reach a good distance out of an area to find a comparable property for a Special “Find…”.

For other ideas to help you sell your unique property, read my post: Tips to Sell a Unique Property

1 Read More

How to Sell a Unique House

Tips You Can Use — Learn How to Sell a Unique House

If you own an unusual home, consider yourself lucky! You have something to advertise that other properties may not have. Use your property’s uniqueness to make it stand out from the crowd. Use the ideas below to formulate your plan and learn how to sell a unique house.

One of a Kind

When selling an unusual property, recognize that there is a value in having something that is one-of-a-kind. Make sure to feature all of the special characteristics in marketing the property and don’t waste time and money in trying to market to ordinary buyers who aren’t looking for something unique or unusual. I would encourage sellers to make sure their agent has a plan on how they will market to buyers who are seeking a unique property.

How Do You Price Your Home?

One of the first things sellers of unique properties want to know is: “How do I price my home?” Pricing an unusual property is not at all the same as pricing a property in a traditional neighborhood or subdivision where comparable sales can be found in close proximity.

To find enough comparable sales to properly price a property, we often have to extend our search area quite a distance. With our focus on unusual properties, we catalog all unique listings in our market area and provide that as a resource for buyers through our website.

We monitor unique properties as they sell, and have a database of unique property sales we can use for pricing analyses. Sellers are advised to make sure their agent can demonstrate a professional approach to pricing the property, taking into consideration the unique characteristics, and the challenge in finding comparable sales.

Unrealistic Listing Price

A common mistake that sellers make is to insist on an unrealistically high listing price, believing that they are creating room for negotiations and that they can reduce the price later if the listing is not attracting buyers. Although it is difficult to properly establish a market price for a unique property, buyers are more educated than in the past and most of the time can sense that a property is priced well above a fair price.

The most common result is a small number of showings or no showings, no offers, and therefore, no negotiations. The recommended approach is to price the property in a realistic range, attracting the highest number of interested buyers.

Emotional Buyers

There are buyers specifically looking for unusual properties, and sellers want to make sure they are attracting these buyers for their unique property. Buyers of unique properties buy on emotions, so they first need to emotionally connect with the property and then they will consider the facts. Sellers of these properties will want to work with an agent that can verbalize the unique characteristics of the property so potential buyers will relate to it.

Use Stories to Bring Properties to Life

We use stories in our listings to bring the properties to life so that a buyer can “mentally” feel what it will be like to live there and to be on the property. I like to bring as many senses as I can into the ads – what you see – floors the color of honey; what you hear – a train whistle in the distance; what you feel – cool slate floors; what you smell – freshly mowed grass. I want to describe the property so the buyer can feel the history of the place. The marketing should mentally transport buyers to the property from wherever they are as they read the story. We try to give them a feeling of what it’s like when the house in the description becomes their home.

Below are two examples of stories I have used in ads for unique home listings.


As if reaching for the very stars above, music filled the space. “Turn it all the way up, no one can hear us!” And they did…and they danced. Friends called, and 17 minutes later they met them downtown for dinner. Apogee, at a cooler 3950’, is the highest altitude Asheville address. Totally private with 75-mile views, she sits on 14.6, low maintenance, mostly wooded acres, sharing a .25 mile boundary with the Blue Ridge Parkway. With 6420 sq. ft., there are views from every room. Numerous porches & decks invite entertaining or reflection. A few of the high-end features include 2 master suites, ultra-luxurious ensuite bath, Crow’s Nest for star gazing; 2-story, stacked-stone, wood burning fireplace, enormous kitchen, both formal and relaxed spaces, hardwood & radiant heat tiled floors, wired sound system and closets aligned to incorporate an elevator. Awe-inspiring Asheville city lights.

“The Old Allison Place – 70 Acres”

Every Sunday, sinners, and saints showed up at Grandma Allison’s house. No invitation necessary, no shortage of food – fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, and more. The kitchen was crowded, yet we all fit in — buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven. Prayer, then pass the dishes – all gone. Kids everywhere, slamming doors, hiding in the bedrooms upstairs and down. Out in the big barn, men discuss livestock, and when or if to cut the timber again. Women relax on the wraparound porch. Banana pudding for dessert! Sitting on 70+ acres, with approximately 55 in woods.

Catch Phrases

Buyers often inquire about our listings by name or by elements of the house’s story, rather than the address. They will ask about “the house where the seven children grew up”, or “the place where the horses waited for the sound of the sliding barn door”. An interesting result of our descriptive advertising is that we have sold four of our listings to remote buyers just from the advertising without the buyer ever physically seeing the properties until coming to the closing table. We use detailed photography and video tours, so in any case, the buyer did have a virtual tour. We had the buyers agree to hold the sellers and our firm harmless if they didn’t like the property once they saw it, and each one closed without an issue.

Regardless the type of property, it is always important that the house shows well, both on the outside as well as the interior. Make sure that the property is in very good condition and make sure that you keep it that way during the listing period. Be willing to show the property at any time. With an unusual property, make sure you are prepared to move when you have a buyer. When a buyer comes along there may not be ten of them looking for your property; there may only be one.

What sellers have said:

“An interview with several real estate agents prompted me to list with Brenda. However, she did so much more than ‘list.’ She met with us to lay the foundation for how she would present this house. She then spent time on the property to enable her to write a story of the home that would convey its unique character to buyers. The buyer approached her so she functioned professionally as a dual agent. Brenda and her assistant helped both the buyer and seller to move through the process and were an excellent liaison during due diligence and on through closing…… which occurred within 2 months of our initial meeting!”

– Pat T.

“My knowledge of Brenda is based not only on her skills but more importantly on her attitude. She listens to what I have to say, then responds accordingly. I don’t always like what I hear but I know that her facts are accurate. Brenda has a good heart. She understands how attached one can become to a property and home and she treats that attachment with respect. Anyone can list a property but not all are willing to do the extra things needed to show and sell. Do yourself a favor. Start with the best. Brenda can be counted on to work hard to get the job done.”

– Trudee S.


Why spend your time learning how to sell a unique house. We’re marketing experts.  Let us help you!


 For other ideas to help you sell your unique property, read my post: How to Price a House

0 Read More

How to Sell a Unique Home

If you’ve ever owned a unique property, or unusual home, you understand the concerns with selling. You know that, even though everyone who has visited your place loved it, they might not have had the courage to buy it. So how do you sell a unique property?  How do you attract a unique buyer for a unique home?

It comes down to the way you advertise!

Unusual houses appeal to a different audience of buyers. There are buyers out there, specifically looking for something different, something uncommon — a unique property.

I, myself, fell into that category.  I couldn’t describe the  property I was looking for, because I hadn’t seen it.  I just knew that I didn’t want a cookie cutter house.

After buying my first home, a stone gatehouse, overlooking the Hudson River in NY, I realized there must be other buyers like me.  That’s why I started Special “Finds…”, where we sell only unusual properties.

Unique property buyers are different from other buyers, because they buy purely on the emotions, they focus on the “facts” later — after they have connected emotionally with the property.  So your agent needs to advertise about the things that a unique property buyer will relate to.

Here’s an example of an ad I wrote from one of my previous listings:

The ad describes the history of this once forgotten Special “Find…”. This unique property had multiple offers and sold within 3 days.

Nostalgia Cottage 

tips on how to sell a unique home.The screen door slams as a child dashes in one door then out another.  Laughter echoes throughout the house as children play hide-‘n-seek on the lawn.  Grown-ups sip iced tea in rockers on the wraparound porch.  A gingham cloth drapes picnic tables where lemonade and cakes tempt nibbling from passersby.  Nostalgia Cottage has lived a rich social history where friends and community gathered annually for various occasions.  Built in 1908 by the well known Tanner family, she sits back from the road on approximately 3 acres.  Freshly painted bright white, with new roof and significant infrastructural updates, she is well on her way to renovation.  Her sturdy walls hold a history of warmth, love, and pride, obvious in the detail of some of the original features still remaining — oak flooring cut from the trees on the Tanner farm, original trim and frame work, plaster walls in the foyer, soaring 11 foot ceilings, 4 freshly painted bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  The kitchen is all original and needs complete cosmetic renovation, yet the space is large with separate breakfast room.  This property is a ready and waiting canvas within walking distance to shopping, dining and medical facilities.  With some 2800 square feet, she would make a wonderful B&B.

Ask your agent to describe your property “emotionally”, so that a buyer can feel the “history” of the property, or how it is to live on your property, and in your home, from wherever they are, while they’re reading your property advertisement.

That’s what we do, at Special “Finds…”.  And it works!

For other ideas to help you sell your unique property, read my post: How to Price a House

1 Read More

Selling a Metaphysical House | Selling Unique Homes

Tips on Selling a Metaphysical House

Selling a metaphysical house has unique challenges.  There are homes on this earth that hold a special calling. Often the location on which the property is located reaches out to the new owner.  Buyers may be attracted to an advertisement for the property but feel no connection to the setting.  When the right buyer comes along, it is important to allow them to “connect” rather than force or push for an offer.

Such is the situation with one of our Special “Finds…” listings at 1192 Rabbit Skin Road in Waynesvilleselling a metaphysical house sometimes requires waiting for the buyer to be called!This home has a history of “finding its next owner”.  Over the years this property has gained much worldwide attention. In its early years, it was the home of psychic, author and cosmic communicator Greta Woodrew. Acting as the corporate retreat for the founders of the Space Technology and Research Foundation (S.T.A.R.) it hosted many famous visitors from around the world.  Currently, it is utilized as a private, family residence.  These owners saw the property in a dream and felt such a strong calling that they relocated from Florida — no questions asked!  They later discovered that on the 23 acres were life healing crystals and a vortex that they were able to open.

If you own a property that you believe has a special calling, if you or friends are healed upon visiting the grounds, it is important to recognize that everything emanates from energy and by focusing on the “feeling” that the property is giving out, you may be able to allow the house to attract its next owner.

Calling on a higher force to find the next buyer can help. Walk the grounds, be quiet, meditate and notice any special sensations.  Your property has a soul that may have existed before you.  Tap into it by listening and feeling.



0 Read More

Grow a Living Roof or Green Roof | Sustainable Living

grow a living roof on your homeThe thought to grow a living roof is becoming more and more common in the United States but living roofs are not a new idea.    

A living roof or green roof is one that has a layer of earth allowing vegetation, perfect for a simple lawn, flowers, trees or a vegetable garden.  

They have been an important part of architecture in European countries for more than 60 years.  Some countries have recognized their benefits to the extent of requiring that all new flat roofs grow a living roof.


0 Read More

Historic Victorian Homes | Charlotte

Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte

historic-victorian-homeThe noteworthy area of the Fourth Ward sophisticatedly blends restored 100-plus-year-old historic victorian homes with urban apartments, parks, restaurants, and businesses. Wandering through the bright, airy, narrow tree-lined streets, visitors delight in seeing the grand old picturesque historic victorian homes with charming front porches and courtyard gardens.  Go ahead and take a stroll through the beautiful Victorian neighborhood, don’t rush though, slow down take your time and enjoy.


In 1886 trolleys became a focus of public transportation in NC.  You can read about it here.  In the early months of 1887, the trolley came into use in Charlotte, bringing communities that once seemed far away, within easy reach.  The Fourth Ward became a sought after area and tended to be inhabited by business owners, clergy, and doctors.  The area represented an affluent area of Charlotte but over the years as commerce transitioned, and certainly by 1970, the area had become neglected.  It was common to see vandalized or even burned-out homes.  Thankfully, in the late 20th century the Fourth Ward saw a restoration and has now become a thriving part of Uptown Charlotte.

Today, the entire Fourth Ward is a great place to visit and an active, charming community of stunning Victorian homes, luxury condos, urban-style apartments, green spaces, and businesses.  There are plenty of cultural, religious and educational things to do, all within walking distance of the thriving  uptown business district of Charlotte.

Noteworthy Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward

Historic Victorian Homes

Historic Carr House

John Price Carr House, built in 1904 is a stunning Queen Anne style Victorian home and is a discussed on the Charlotte Landmark Commission’s website.

Historic Victorian Homes

The William Overcarsh House

The William Overcarsh House was the home of a local schoolteacher and minister who influenced the religious development of the Mecklenburg County. It exhibits a tower, sun burst gables, carved doorways, and etched windows. The 3,435 square feet, five-bedrooms and two-baths home is a good example of the Queen Anne style of architecture. It was last sold in 1994 for $566,500.

Historic Victorian Homes

The Berryhill House

The Berryhill House was built in 1884 by John H. Newcomb. It is one of the few remaining examples of Victorian architecture in Charlotte. The exterior trim is elaborate, as is a common Charles Eastlake feature. 

Attractions in Fourth Ward

The Fourth Ward is made up of mostly residential Victorian homes, it is an official Historic District and is the location of Old Settlers’ Cemetery as well as the three acre Fourth Ward Park. For a great overview of the neighborhood’s past, present and future, hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours.

Historic Victorian Home For Sale

Historic Victorian Home

119 N Piedmont Ave, Kings Mountain

The Rev. John D. Mauney House is a Victorian Painted Lady near Charlotte NC, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cobblestone paths meander through ancient English Boxwoods, past pretty gardens with seating areas. A few of the amenities inside are heart-pine floors reflecting the warm glow of a pretty crystal chandeliers hanging from tall ceilings, 4 roomy bedrooms, three and 1/2 baths including a main level master bedroom with private bath, three fireplaces, large kitchen with hidden appliances, enormous game room with burnished terrazzo floor and a bar with appliances, lots of built-in shelves and cabinets with leaded or stained glass doors, a separate garage and carport. Click here for more information about this beautiful home for sale.


0 Read More

Sustainable Living | Underground Homes

Underground Homes

As the cost of living increases, people are rethinking the way they live. Many people are turning to an energy efficient lifestyle. Not only is green living economically savvy but also environmentally friendly. Underground homes, also known as earth-sheltered homes are becoming a much more popular choice to those who are attracted to sustainable living. It’s truly a unique and exciting way of life!

The main component of an earth sheltered home is its infrastructure. Being built out of concrete, the home’s temperature will mimic closely to the internal temperature of the soil, the ground acts as a blanket. For example, If the soil in your area has a consistent temperature of 50 degrees you would expect your home to remain at a steady 50 degrees. Making heating the home much easier and affordable.

The benefits of owning an Earth Sheltered Home are numerous. They include: protection from temperature extremes, energy efficiency, economically feasible insurance breaks, water lines will never freeze, termite proof, and protection from nuclear fallout.

Notable Underground Homes Around the World

Picture of one of the Interesting and beautiful underground homes in the village of Holme in England

The above underground home was significant enough to be featured in Architectural Digest.  Located in the village of Holme in England, Architectural Digest referred to it as describes the significance of a home such as this here.


There are few underground homes, but this is an excellent exaple of one in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK

The above house, known as The Sedum House, is an underground home located in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK.  Featured on the Underground Home Directory, their description is “This home, innovative even by green roof standards, represents a great fusion between an unusual curved green roof and Geothermal design.this home “.  By the way, the Underground Home Directory is a great resource for unique homes.  Visit their site to learn all kinds of info about underground and earth-sheltered homes.

Underground homes located in Lyme, New Hampshire

The Pinnacle House

The above “Pinnacle House” is an award-winning, sustainably-designed underground home in Lyme, New Hampshire. It was featured on Wilder Utopia, where they describe earth-sheltered homes as Earth Sheltered, energy-efficient houses are bright, airy, dry and quiet.”  Visit their site to read about all kinds of unusual properties.


One of the Underground Homes For Sale

few underground homes are available, but this one near Asheville NC at 6 Stonegate Trail, Leicester, is currently for sale.

6 Stonegate Trail

Special Finds has been given the opportunity to list one of these amazing underground homes located just 20 minutes west of downtown Asheville. This specific house is built directly into a hill leaving only the front of the structure visible to the outside world. The design is extremely energy efficient thanks to the earth that is surrounding the home. Never too cold in the winter and never too hot in the summer. This home is environmentally friendly with low maintenance.  To learn more about this home click here.

Around the world, earth sheltered homes have become more and more popular with individuals wanting to live a more sustainable life as well. There tends to be little to no maintenance needed on these homes since they are often built out of concrete and protected from the elements by the earth itself.

0 Read More
page 1 of 3

Start typing and press Enter to search