Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Real Estate Advertising Analysis - Madison WI

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 bare floors.


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 needed.


#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 home.


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 the home.


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 point.


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 in.



#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 higher price.



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.




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