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How to spot a diamond in the rough

The old saying, the three most valuable components of real estate are location, location & location is so because this is something you cannot change. This is the case because everything else can be improved. However, in urban areas it has become widely accepted that two of the locations in this equation have been replaced with square footage & amenities. Todays highly competitive market has meant (for most of us) that buying a new home is met with more concessions than requirements.

Spotting a diamond in the rough can be difficult if you dont prep yourself for the challenge. In a nutshell; If you are not in a position to afford everything on your wish list, concentrate on the three things you cannot change. Ask yourself:

  • Is the condo/home in a location I can live with? (or does it border an area I feel has future potential ?)
  • Does it have enough space for me (and my family)?
  • Does it have the minimum amenities I can live with?

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does it have future potential to be a great space for me with some improvements?
  • Could the space work if I add or renovate a kitchen/bath?
  • Would the potential for deck/roof rights be enough for now, then add one later?
  • Could opening up or adding a wall give me the layout I am looking for (possibly by separating or combining two rooms)?
  • Could adding (or removing) details like crown molding, wood floors, new appliances etc. given me the look I cannot seem to find elsewhere?


Doing improvements over time not only will give you an opportunity to increase the units value, but will also allow you to end up with the type and quality of finishes YOU want.

Not all renovations have to cost a fortune. You might be surprised at how affordable doing your own rehab is. If you know a contractor or have a friend who is knowledgeable & has done this themselves before, have them come lookat the space and get their opinion.



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Creating your own unique space can be extremely rewarding. And in todays market, it may be the only way to get the home you desire.


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Bathroom design by Sarah Richardson


Brian Back has been with Gibson Sotheby's International Real Estate since 1992. His real estate experience began in 1987 and has led him to become involved in both residential sales & development. He specializes in both established and emerging neighborhoods in and around the city of Boston. In addition to his real estate experience, Brian holds a degree in interior design from the Art Institute (Ft. Lauderdale Fl.). He knows first hand what it is like to be a customer having both developed and sold many properties in the city of Boston and surrounding neighborhoods.

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