In a sea of MLS listings, creative marketing can help your property stand out. While these seven strategies may not be for everyone or for every property, under the right circumstances, one of them may help you get a competitive edge.
1. Throw a Party
Open houses attract buyers on a limited basis because most buyers can easily find homes in their area through the MLS and Internet and gain access through their real estate agent. Instead of an open house, create a real buzz by throwing a party.
The more over-the-top, the greater the buzz. Place signs and fliers in the community, hire a DJ and raffle off prizes. You may not attract someone to the party who eventually will buy your property, but those who do come may say something to someone who is looking in the area.
Parties generally only make sense with large, upscale homes that are conducive to entertaining. Brian Jones, a digital real estate marketing professional and a title insurance adviser for Liberty Title, points to a million-dollar lake house in Pinckney, Mich., as an example. The owner spent nearly $10,000 on an open bar, pig roast and other entertainment, but the investment paid off big time. More than 150 people attended, and a bidding war ensued, with the owner eventually accepting an offer for $150,000 above the asking price.
You could scale things back if you have a smaller, less expensive house. Instead of going all out for a community party, invite a targeted group (such as other investors) for a wine and cheese party or host an art show for students from the local high school—anything to get people in the community talking about your property.
2. Invite the Neighbors
Tracey Hampson, an agent with Century 21 Troop Real Estate in Santa Clarita, Calif., puts a twist on the party idea and targets the neighbors, inviting them personally to a wine and cheese party by knocking on their doors and handing them an invitation. Because the neighbors have to bring the invitation to get in to the “very exclusive” party, they feel special.
The approach usually doubles the turnout she could have expected without an invite, she says. Better yet, on her last listing, she ended up selling the home to a friend of one of the neighbors who attended the exclusive private party.
You don’t have to go to that effort to have a similar effect if your property isn’t the wine-and-cheese, open-house type. Instead, go door-to-door letting the neighbors know about the home you have for sale and asking them to pass the information to any family members, friends or co-workers who might be interested in moving into the area.
3. Host an Event
People are always looking for space to hold events, such as weddings or parties and even to sell their items at pop-up shops. If you have the right venue, it’s another way to draw attention to your property. Post an ad, along with photographs, on websites like The Storefront (www.thestorefront.com) and Event Up (www.eventup.com) and make sure fliers are available or that you’re available to talk about the property.
Bonus: You’ll be able to generate a little revenue from the event as well. Listed properties usually charge several hundreds to several thousands of dollars per event, depending on the venue.
If your property isn’t venue material, you can tweak the idea. Host a neighborhood garage sale (another great way to get the neighbors involved) or a charitable event at the property. For the charitable event, coordinate with the charity to hold an event at your property, such as the ever-popular wine-and-cheese party or an art auction. Ask the charity’s staff to help promote the event to their donor list, and offer a portion of the home’s profit to the charity when it sells.
4. Use a Drone
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a five-minute video would be worth 7,000 words and definitely generate more interest,” says Ed Brancheau, an SEO expert with Goozleology. That is especially the case, he adds, if that video includes footage shot by a drone.
While photographs taken by a drone showing a bird’s-eye view of a property are becoming more common, a video showing exterior and interior drone footage still stands out. Brancheau says properties using drone video get more views, which means more interest and possibly more money.
Chris Bonnet, CEO of Drone Dispatch, says drone video isn’t necessarily for every property—it usually works best for properties that have great yards and spectacular interior features—but it can be an effective tool when spliced with conventional video and accompanied by voice-over or text overlays.
For most videos, the drone starts outside and flies through the front door, through the living space, out the back door and over the backyard. Sometimes, Bonnet will incorporate drone flyovers of pool tables or elevated shots of the staircase. The footage is then edited to include conventional video.
Although anyone can learn to fly a drone, it takes considerable talent to make an effective video.
“The magic is in the video editing,” Bonnet says. Prices start at $600 for Drone Dispatch’s services.
5. Offer Something Extra
Whether you offer a club membership or an actual item like a pool table, sometimes a perk can attract the extra attention needed to make your house stand out. Andrew Reeves says that when he put his home on the market, he asked local gyms to let their clients know that he would pay for a year’s gym membership for the person who bought his house.
The strategy worked. Someone who learned about his home through one of the gyms purchased it, and he did buy the new homeowner a one-year gym membership. He feels the offer was a key factor in the sale.
Gene Caballero had a similar experience.
“When I was selling my house in the suburbs and moving into the city, I really didn’t need my car,” he says. “I parked it in the front with a big sign, ‘Car Comes with the House!’”
The house sold in three days, and Caballero handed over the keys to his 2-year-old Nissan Maxima along with the keys to his house.
Get creative. Besides gym memberships and cars, you could offer such things as monthly spa treatments, season tickets for the local sports team, a one-year membership to the local country club or even a vacation.
6. Create a Website
Give your home more than just an MLS listing—set up a website for it. The website is a canvas that showcases more than photographs and features. You can use it to tell a story that hooks buyers, says Spencer Callaghan with Thornley Fallis Communications.
For example, you could write a blog detailing the significant days spent in the house, such as the day you moved in or the day you planted the rose bushes in the backyard.
“Make it funny, sweet, maybe even tug at the heartstrings a bit, but weave in details about the house itself,” he says.
Amplify your efforts by using social media. Post on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Include your dedicated website on all fliers and marketing materials so buyers can learn more about your property and, hopefully, become emotionally attached to it through your stories.
7. Wear a Panda Suit
OK, maybe it doesn’t have to be a panda suit, but gimmicks can work. Just ask Texas real estate agent Jessica Arnett, who donned a panda suit after reading about an English agent who did the same thing. According to Realtor.com, the tactic generated 12 showings in two days (compared to two showings in the previous three weeks) for the four-bedroom, $199,900 listing.
You don’t have to wear a costume, though, for a creative marketing campaign. (In fact, if too many people adopt the tactic, it will lose its impact.) You could place cutouts of celebrities in your home photos or maybe place an item in one of the photographs and make a pictorial search for that item in the postings.
The idea is to get creative. The more creative you are, potentially, the more interest your ad will generate.