Looking Past the Photos to See the Potential of Any Home

Looking Past the Photos to See the Potential of Any Home

  • Irina Podolsky
  • 10/3/22

When it comes to finding your dream home, what you see isn’t always what you get. Online photos can often leave out key details about a property’s condition, layout, or curb appeal. In such cases, it can be difficult for potential buyers to determine if a home has potential or not. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics behind finding homes that, on first look, may be hiding their true potential. So, whether you’re considering Boston or Brookline real estate, read on for an expert guide to looking past the photographs.

Look for natural light and open space

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Listing photos for Boston real estate and the surrounding area are notoriously hit-or-miss when it comes to providing details and the backhistory of a property. With so many historic houses in the region, it’s always a good idea to develop a sense of where a home is located, what amenities and features are nearby, and the general layout or floor plan of the home.

Homes that have potential usually provide the same sorts of benefits. These include:

  • Lots of natural light and large, preferably southern-facing windows, which provide ample sunshine throughout the year.

  • Plenty of space to grow. From just looking at photos, it can be hard to tell the true size of a property, especially if the previous owners filled the rooms with excess decoration and appliances. 

  • Character and charm. Even homes that, at first glance, appear to require repairs can hide lots of potential.

Don’t overlook homes with discounted prices

Another way to discover homes with hidden potential in Boston real estate and elsewhere is to search for sellers who are offering a discounted price on a property. One way to find these gems is to look for homes that have been on the market for more than a few weeks. This situation often forces the seller to lower their sale price in order to better reflect comparable housing prices in the area.

Sometimes, sellers lower the sale price if a pre-inspection reveals that extensive repairs are necessary. If you’re willing to make repairs early on or renovate an aging house into a modern home, these discounts can often cover the upfront costs of updates.

Bad (or missing) listing photos? No problem.

One of the mistakes that some home sellers make when listing online is forgetting to post high-quality, professional listing photos. Since over 40% of homebuyers today first look online to find their homes, sellers are advised to include a full range of interior and exterior photos with their listing. However, they don’t always do so.

But don’t let a lack of photos deceive you into thinking that a given property doesn’t have potential. A home might simply have poor cosmetics or less-than-beautiful curb appeal, which, after a few renovations, might transform it into a true jewel of a home. The best plan of action is to focus on the specs or “good bones” of a home. As long as you organize an in-person visit to the property where you can ensure that all the proper accommodations are included, all you might need is a fresh coat of paint and a few minor repairs to make your new home shine.

Curb appeal and awkward floor plans are fixable

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Many sellers forego listing their properties with good photos because there may be problematic elements inside or outside the house. Also, some areas may be challenging to photograph or appear awkward or smaller than reality. These may include:

  • Unique or dated paint colors
  • Out-of-fashion landscaping
  • Damaged flooring
  • Awkward interior rooms and partitions or walls
  • Tight spaces and unused, non-functional rooms
  • An outdated entryway
At first sight, any of these features might be a drawback in the eyes of potential buyers. However, many homes might have a hidden potential if you’re willing to look at the long-term and consider the marginal costs of repairs.

Interior and exterior walls can be repainted with ease, landscaping and entryways can be redesigned with minimal effort, and awkwardly-sized rooms are relatively simple to fix with the help of a local contractor. Plus, you can make a family project out of picking out new flooring, selecting modern appliances, and demo’ing outdated wall paneling and walls. Consider it an opportunity to personalize your space from day one.

Look past surface-level drawbacks

There are thousands of homes for sale in Boston and Brookline houses that show marks of age, minor neglect, or an otherwise checkered past. Sellers might think twice about posting high-definition photos of a property in these kinds of situations. However, the process of searching for a home requires a little more than choosing among the most qualified, move-in-ready properties.

Homes with a lot of hidden potential could simply be hiding behind a small, surface-level issue. A deck may need minor repairs, windows may need replacing, or a lawn re-sod. What’s important is to inquire about the structural integrity of the home as well as the condition of functional systems like HVAC and plumbing.

As long as the home has a solid foundation, it’s well worth your time to follow up with sellers who lack online photos or home tours. Some homes simply fall on hard times because of a divorce, budget problems, or general neglect. Buyers should be aware that these houses are oftentimes easier to polish and renew on your own time rather than wait on the market for that perfect home that may only appear once in a lifetime.

First impressions matter

There’s much to be said for judging a home by its “front cover,” so to speak. Your first impression of a house is a strong indication of whether or not a less-than-ideal property has the potential to become your home. Still, it's important to base your first impression on what the home could offer you in the long run. This means considering the following points:

  • An underwhelming entryway is easy to fix with a fresh coat of paint and updated landscaping and fencing
  • Overgrown greenery only requires a few days or weeks of attention to control
  • Walls or thru-ways that lack a natural feel can be removed or repositioned 
  • A home with a good location should be preferred over inconvenient neighborhoods even if they require more repairs

Contact a local real estate agent today!

If you have any questions or comments about homes for sale in Newton, Brookline, Boston, or the surrounding area, reach out to the experts at the Podolsky Tate Real Estate Group today. They will help you find a home that checks all the boxes!

*Header photo courtesy of Pexels



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