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It started out as a straightforward transaction—the sale of 373 6th Avenue, a 2-bedroom, 3.5-bath contemporary home in the Inner Richmond.

But this off-street home was very intertwined with the larger luxury home in front of it—#371.

Oddly, the only access to the home I was selling was through a side gate from the street, an easement through the front building’s property.

To add to the ungainliness, another easement allowed the back building owners a parking spot in the front building’s four-car garage.

Awkward, no? Certainly lacking the privacy you’d expect in a single-family home.

But it worked for years, mainly because one family was using both buildings. Zoning allowed the owner to turn his rear building into a medical office. And he and his family rented the front home as a residence.

Lukewarm market reaction
When we put #373 on the market, we didn’t get the attention from buyers that we wanted.

Developers who built this property didn’t give a lot of thought to its future marketability.

The configuration was confusing for agents and prospective buyers. We posted a sign on the wall of the unit to explain the easements.

I started thinking about how the discomfort of sharing disappeared when one family held both spaces.

What if we marketed it as a potential family compound?

Good idea, right? But the front home wasn’t for sale. It turned out the owners of 371 and their landlord, the owner of 373, were great friends. I said let’s approach him about selling the front property.

You never know till you ask
My client introduced me to the delightful, elderly real estate broker who owned the front home. I drove to Petaluma to meet him and make our case.

Because of the families’ relationship (and because we asked), he agreed to sell and make the process easier for everyone.

So we got everything in order and the front property went on the market.

I jointly promoted it with another brokerage and focused on the synergies of owning a family compound. What it lacked in amenities and picket-fence appeal, it balanced with new construction and a great location at 6th Avenue and Clement.

We got several offers, most for the front property alone. It was nicer and bigger, and included the large garage. But when buyers fully processed the idea that people from the back property would be in their garage, things got dicey.

When we asked, “Wouldn’t you like to buy the back building too, and have the whole space to yourselves?” The winning buyers mulled it over and said yes.

Your home’s defect can be its strength
Most properties have something that mars their marketability, title or condition. Of course, we strive to eliminate those obstacles, but sometimes they’re permanent. So instead, we own the defect.

Don’t apologize for it, but don’t hide it either. That quirk can be the home’s defining factor.

Thank you for a fantastic 2017! Give me a call if you need help transforming an odd property into one that’s uniquely desirable.