Monday, May 14, 2012

Why Would Anyone Want To Live "There"?

No, it's not a negative slant on a specific property or location. Actually, this is a question that every real estate agent should be asking themselves when about just before talking with a potential buyer or seller about a listing.

Yet, I personally see very very very little evidence of this within the literally thousands of property advertisements and sales presentations I have worked with over the past 23 years for residential properties. Making important changes in the way that residential properties are advertised, marketed, and presented, is a more significant step toward improving the real estate market than the constant stream of negative and/or meaningless statistics.

I'm so tired of seeing advertisements (whether online, newspaper, magazine, flyer, etc.) for homes that make them seem like 20 other houses in the same neighborhood. It's no wonder that buyers often do not express what they are looking for very well.

What needs to happen is that real estate agents (who insist on creating their own advertising copy instead of letting a pro handle it) need to start thinking of each home they have listed as if it is a person and they are creating an ad for the personals.

You want to arrange several "dates" for the home in search of the perfect match, and you know what you are looking for in a buyer (just like a man or woman).

Several of my real estate advertising/marketing clients start to give me the "You can't mention specifics - it's discriminatory" lecture either just before or right after they hire me. I have to tell them how well I understand that, and how well I know how to work around that.

Potential buyers have a general idea of what the home they want needs to include. A certain number of bedrooms and baths, for example, and within a certain price range and area. Based on the large inventory of homes on the market today, the basic criteria is easy to find. What the selling agent (and/or the seller) needs to do is take the marketing of the home one step further.

If you were a single middle-aged woman and noticed that 7 out of 10 personal ads for males between 40 and 55 all said not much more than "attractive, employed, and enjoy watching pro sports", chances are you would be rather frustrated at the similarity of the selection. Keep that in mind and look at advertisements for 2-bedroom homes within a 5 mile radius of your neighborhood. If it weren't for photos, you would have a hard time telling the difference and probably be swayed more by price than anything. That's my point.

There is no specific reason to want to live "there" as opposed to a similarly priced home 3 blocks away. And that's the key. It's not only what the house "has", it's what it "does" that needs to be pointed out, and quickly.

Who should live there, and why? It's not as though you could say "Asian couple with 2 kids ideal for this 3-bedroom condo...." in your advertising. Or "For middle aged empty nest professional couple".

But the advertising could appeal to the target audience for the property, and not be the same as if it were for either of those groups.

Using that "middle aged..." scenario, here is how an ad for a home geared toward them might read:
"2 + 2 single level near 20 minute train ride downtown approx. 600 feet from Starbucks in quiet pet friendly sub division with island kitchen and upgraded appliances." You are saying it without saying it. Most people seeing this description understand this is a home for at least one professional person that can easily get to and from work and easily cook their meals. A '20-something' just starting out may not care about getting downtown or the Starbucks or the single level. But that '20-something' is not a likely candidate for this house - just as that '20-something' would very likely not respond to a personals ad for someone in their 50's.

Catchy phrases such as "Where 3 kids successfully grew up and moved out" tells a large family that there are obviously schools nearby and room for kids. That could be more of a factor than "vaulted ceilings", "move-in condition", "must see to believe" and a lot of the content currently wasting money and space in property advertising.

Of course, this line of thinking should not be limited to the outside advertising. Don't think of it as the "2-bedroom ranch on Western Ave.". Think of it as the "place where a single female would have solid security", "a family with at least 2 young children could grow up", "house that is 5 minutes away from the theatre district", and so forth.

Think of a home for sale as if it is your single brother you are trying to find the right girl for. Who "should" be interested? Why? There is how to advertise and even talk with inquiries on the phone and online about. Maybe you can find him a house where it's easy to take long walks on the beach.

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