Reader feedback goes a long way with me. As a result, I’m
going to share even more of our market research geared toward reviewing
advertisements by market and doing some comparison analysis.
Our market research of advertising and marketing of single
family homes in the Madison WI area shows that realty agents are doing a
slightly above average job in comparison, with good possibilities for
improvement in the near future.
The listings reviewed are each three bedroom one bath single
family houses (in Dane County) priced between $100,000 and $200,000, which range
from fixers to ideal at the low and high end.
Upon doing a random search, based on Dane County 3 + 1 in
the $100,000 to $200,000 price range, we reviewed the first five homes shown with
this criteria starting at the low end of $100,000 and then the first five working
down from $200,000 to $159,900. These advertisements are then compared against
each other (in same range) and then against the ads for the other price range
within the same area.
$100,000 to $110,000:
#1) 140 South St, Sun Prairie, $104,900 1,583 square feet
The photo spread exterior shot shows the big yard, which,
however, makes the house look distant. The interior photos show too much of the
bare floors, some with debris on them, in empty rooms. Combined, these photos
make the reader want to keep his/her distance and fear for walking inside onto
The description copy tries to counteract the photos,
admitting the home “has flaws”, and highlighting “Tons of great features,
covered front porch, main floor office & laundry….”, etc.
However, this home has more square footage than four of the
five properties we reviewed which are priced between $50,000 and $90,000 higher
and in the same region. A more flattering photo spread and minor copy revisions
#2) 209 North St. Madison $104,900 1,575 square feet
Although the intent is there with this advertisement, the
primary photo showing the wood porch and railings which do not match the color
of the exterior kill the initial appeal. The description copy includes “Great
opportunity for sweat equity or investment…”, which is fine. However, the copy
begins with “Back on market, buyer finance fell thru”.
While we understand the desire to show the reason for ‘back
on the market’, it should not be given as a priority. A “new” ad should be
attracting “new” potential buyers who would not have known this is at least a 2nd
attempt to sell the listing. To address those who have seen this property
advertised previously, show an upgrade, improvement, or added feature not
included in a previous ad instead.
#3) 549 State Farm Rd. Deerfield $109,000
1,824 square feet
By far the largest home in terms of square footage in this
group, but the advertisement fails to live up to this advantage.
The primary photo has blocked out part of a real estate
sign, giving out a “this is an edited photo” message, as well as looking like
the back of the home behind a tree and phone pole.
If anyone bothers to proceed and read the description copy,
they would see more negative information, such as “Property was built prior to
1978 and lead-based paint potentially exists.”
Of course, the lead-based paint possibility should be
disclosed under these circumstances. This, however, should have been addressed
before an advertisement went public. Having an inspection to determine whether
or not this issue exists would have been huge. If an inspection showed no
lead-based paint, it could have been pointed out and made into a positive! If
there definitely is a presence, the ad could state something like “Get the
lead-based paint out and get a bargain in return!”.
Why? Because at an estimated 1,824 square feet, this home is
also bigger than the five property advertisements we analyzed costing up to
$90,000 more. Showing a definitive result tells a potential investor how much
they could profit by fixing up, or what a bargain this is if they don’t have to
deal with the paint issue. As it shows now (as of press time), this ad tells a
potential buyer they have a major headache to deal with if they still want the
What might have been!
#4) 116 Cherokee Dr.
$109,900 1,374 square feet
If only the photo spread and the description copy were
coordinated, this would be the best advertisement within the group.
The primary photo is very good, making this home appear
larger than three of the other four properties within this $10,000 range even
though it is not. Most of the remainder of the spread is quite flattering to
However, the description copy starts with “Lake access home
on 3 lots, have the rights but not the cost and enjoy the lake.” The “however”
is that it isn’t until the final two photos that a potential buyer can see any
evidence of a lake, and that is if he/she is still clicking away.
Either the copy needs to feature “Plenty of room with easy
lake access” or the photo spread needs to show at least one picture showing
both the house and the lake with a much better angle. This property is a good
value compared with a couple of the ones priced much higher, but a conflicting
advertisement does not convey the best message.
#5) 1738 Baird Street Madison $109,900
932 square feet
This advertisement pulls down the others. The photo spread
needs to be re-shot. The primary photo, even with the yard and garden, is at an
angle that makes the house look small, even though it really is. The 2nd
photo makes the 2-car detached garage appear to be larger than the entire house.
Ouch. What hurts even more is that the remaining photos of the interior are
very good and quite flattering. Removing the first two exterior photos would
make a huge difference with this home.
The description copy wisely promotes the ability to bike or
walk downtown or to campus, and (at press time) upcoming open houses. However,
the copy included “Offers will be presented to seller Sunday evening”. While we
realize the intent of urgency, this also tells an interested party that there
is no rush to see the home ahead of time since an offer might not be considered
ahead of time.
Especially when a potential buyer can easily find four other
3 + 1 homes for the same or a few thousand dollars less within seconds.
FROM $200,000 to $159,000:
#1) 5202 Kevins Way Madison
$200,000 1,644 square feet
This one is clearly the best advertisement of this group of
ten. While the primary photo is slightly off angel, the 25 photos in the spread
are excellent, flattering each room throughout the interior.
The description copy starts well with the “updated home in a
desirable neighborhood” approach, while the “Well cared for by this owner of 31
years” is an excellent selling point. This combines to give potential buyers
solid reasons to pay the same or more than comparable listings in the area,
which the majority of these other ads do not.
#2) 108 N Jefferson St. Verona $200,000
1,309 sq feet
Ad needs some touching up to be effective. The primary photo
features the yard, which in turn makes the house seem distant. The description
copy hits “Charming ranch home is the best value in the Verona area” but offers
nothing to compare.
While the description copy does support the current primary
photos by mentioning the yard and patio first, the photo spread further in
features a very impressive interior, which appears to be an even better selling
This advertisement needs to feature the interior as the
strong selling point, especially when you consider that three of five home ads
we reviewed listed for at least $90,000 LESS, have more square footage.
#3) 3629 Dennett Dr.
Madison $200,000 1,392 square feet
Has a good primary photo and photo spread, even if it makes
the home appear smaller. Only critique on this ad is that both the description
copy and the photo spread could have more emphasis on the interior.
#4) 2415 Allied Dr.
Madison $199,900 1,450 square feet
In one word, this ad is “careless”. Not one actual photo,
yet the description copy says this home was “built in 2014”, and this is July
2015. The description copy also promotes “Open House at Sales Center”, as if
this ad has given anyone even the slightest hint of a reason why they should
follow up. Especially when the same area has larger homes available for more
than $90,000 less.
There is nothing in this ad to make this home distinct in
any way, nor do we know if there is still a warranty or what condition it is
#5) 112 Bresland Ct. Madison
$199,900 1,110 square feet
More carelessness with this ad, in addition to two of the
photos (including the primary one) showing a car in the driveway. Another of
the photos shows grass growing at the garage door, which makes this property
appear poorly groomed. The last of the (only) five photos shows some sort of
street view with no description of what or why it is included.
The description copy includes “needs extensive
work/remodeling”, while this home is at approximately 1,100 square feet, while
priced at or above every other home in this analysis.
This listing office generally does better with promoting its
listings. A check of the company web site produced a separate 3 + 1 home with
unique features and a nice photo spread listed at $40,000 LESS:
However, consumers are far less likely to pursue a company
web site after seeing ads as poor as the Bresland Ct. one, especially at the
NOTE: This survey is based on researching listed properties
for Dane County (in which Madison is the largest municipality) via the
WisconsinHomes .com site during the week of July 20 through 24, 2015. First In
Promotions Inc., which provides the research, has no affiliation with
WisconsinHomes nor are any of the listing agents or specific offices
representing the various analyzed property advertisements current clients of
First In Promotions Inc. This information demonstrated for research purposes
only, and is not guaranteed to be accurate or current beyond July 24, 2015.
Our full reports for Madison and other markets recently
surveyed by First In Promotions, both for our clients and independently, may be
available to qualified realty agents and companies. Contact us if interested.