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A No-Nonsense Approach

It Takes A Neighborhood To Sell A House

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Forsalesign_2 The house next door to me has been sitting on the market, empty, for several months. Finally we neighbors decided we simply had to clean up the yard. It's a matter of neighborhood pride...and we also want good people to  move in that will take care of the place. Please note that our easygoing little melting pot has all races, shapes, sizes, ages and sexual orientations - and we all get along, with most of us taking care of our front yards (sometimes with more enthusiasm than taste, but hey, who am I to complain about a few plastic Madonnas and Bambis?  I'm sure those good people wonder about my tastes!)

So, we've banded together and have been diligently weeding, mowing and spiffing.  While  I was sweating over somebody else's weeds, I got to thinking about - ta-da! - how to better market a house (or any product):

It's Not The Product - It's The People...and the Feelings

Why don't Realtors do more to get the neighbors involved? We've certainly got a vested interest in who buys the house. Of course, Realtors have legal restrictions preventing them from offering money and doing certain other things, but:

1. Why not invite the whole 'hood to the first open house?
If nothing else, it's a goodwill gesture and many of us are going to stop by anyway out of curiosity.   Ask us to sign a book and give our comments about the house.  Call it your "good neighbor" book, leave it on the table next to the biz cards and property description.   

2. Ask neighbors why they love the neighborhood. Print that on the web site, in ads, on the info sheets and the sale sign.  Ask permission to use their photo, first name and quote on the realtor web site.  Have a BIG spotlight quote ON the sale sign. I really couldn't care less if you're the top seller of real estate or whatever...why would I call you about this house? (Optimum would be to have a separate URL for each house.  example: www.1707Oriole.com.)

Example:

"I've lived in Sandia Heights since 1962 and it just keeps getting better!"

                - Your new next door neighbor. 

(Subliminal messages: older durable homes; stable neighborhood; still a good investment; a good area.)

3. Do a special hand-out sheet with the top quotes and key selling points of the neighborhood.  Staple it to the usual bla-blah spec sheet. (Everyone is saying things like "Cute! Won't Last! New Floors!"  Yawn.  Particularly in the current market, buyers know it will last.  And, what the heck is "cute" anyway?  It's such a ubiquitous word in listings, I find myself using it when talking about real estate and I'm not a "cute" person.

For example, when talking to lookers over the back fence, I say things like, "It's great - I can get anywhere without having to get on I-40 (major Interstate, in constant construction) - just 8 minutes to (list of stuff)...AND, they're building a Trader Joe's less than a mile from here!  Did you know these home were built in the 1950s and still have (details of design, etc.).  I bought because..."    

4. Write a story about the house
- its history, the people who've owned and loved it.  Many people look in my neighborhood because of its 1950s era homes - so talk it up! Sure, buyers want to know square footage, number of bedrooms and so on - but all houses have these basics.  What's special about this one? 

All people love good stories and we women home buyers in particular are ALL ABOUT our nests (I think it's hardwired from 10,000 years or so of fire and family buidling...if we're looking at a house, we're thinking of the feelings and the people...and things like Trader Joe's proximity! ;-)

So, before you do your next marketing piece  - remember it's about people and their feelings - not your features.  

Comments

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Ma

John, LOVE the idea of a garage sale - what a great way to engage with people, including potential future clients. Who doesn't love a good sale?

Katie, one good thing about all this weed-pulling - I have gotten to know my neighbors better! And, the best news is that the house has sold - to a young couple who is very excited about it. The realtor sent $50 restaurant gift cards to us as a "thank you." So a nice ending.

Katie Baird

Sometimes it takes a project like this to cement a neighborhood.

I live in an unincorporated area surrounded by city. We tend to get forgotten or overlooked but when our utility company just came in and started cutting down healthy Ponderosa Pine and Oak trees a few years ago, we banded together to insist on a compromise.

Since then, we have worked together to keep the weeds cut on abandoned properties and, in fact, some of our neighbors have purchased properties which went up for sale, so as to prevent commercial development from intruding into a quaint neighborhood that we love.

Loved and was inspired by your post!

John Harper

Mary - When we list a house for sale out here in the East Bay of California, we walk the neighborhood handing out personal invites to a special wine & cheese showing for about 200 neighbors.

We also interview the homeowner and neighbors, at times, and put the mp3 on our blog. Here's an example -

http://www.theharperteam.com/blog/our-team/fantastic-family-home-ideal-for-entertaining/

Another thing we'll do at times is organize neighborhood garage sales if the owner has a lot of stuff they want to get rid of. When that happens my brother and his almost over-the-hill rock band will play live music to pump up the energy in the neighborhood. Example here:
http://www.theharperteam.com/blog/our-team/danville-garage-sale-of-the-century/

Sonam

Does anyone live in a subdivision where there are several people who ignore the subdivision rules?
I do. No one is supposed to have those ugly fences on the top of their pools, and it seems that everyone in the sub with a pool has one of those. My neighbor has one, and I have to look at that hideous thing every time I look out my window. Then there is my other neighbor who has three dogs. The maximum number of dogs is supposed to be two. I wouldn't mind the three, but two of them are pit bulls who viciously snarl and growl and act like they are going to eat my dog when they are outside. Even the owners scream at them to stop. It is very unnerving. Then one of the board members is delinquent by 3 years on the dues because she has decided she doesn't need to pay since she is on the board. I can't take the neighbors around here. I was looking for a forum to vent about the jerks around here and I came across this site called http://urajerk.com and I sent all of those idiots on the board and all my lovely neighbors with the ugly pools an anonymous card. LOL I loved it. I know it sounds stupid but I feel better. He he he.

Sonam

Does anyone live in a subdivision where there are several people who ignore the subdivision rules?
I do. No one is supposed to have those ugly fences on the top of their pools, and it seems that everyone in the sub with a pool has one of those. My neighbor has one, and I have to look at that hideous thing every time I look out my window. Then there is my other neighbor who has three dogs. The maximum number of dogs is supposed to be two. I wouldn't mind the three, but two of them are pit bulls who viciously snarl and growl and act like they are going to eat my dog when they are outside. Even the owners scream at them to stop. It is very unnerving. Then one of the board members is delinquent by 3 years on the dues because she has decided she doesn't need to pay since she is on the board. I can't take the neighbors around here. I was looking for a forum to vent about the jerks around here and I came across this site called http://urajerk.com and I sent all of those idiots on the board and all my lovely neighbors with the ugly pools an anonymous card. LOL I loved it. I know it sounds stupid but I feel better. He he he.

Sonam

Does anyone live in a subdivision where there are several people who ignore the subdivision rules?
I do. No one is supposed to have those ugly fences on the top of their pools, and it seems that everyone in the sub with a pool has one of those. My neighbor has one, and I have to look at that hideous thing every time I look out my window. Then there is my other neighbor who has three dogs. The maximum number of dogs is supposed to be two. I wouldn't mind the three, but two of them are pit bulls who viciously snarl and growl and act like they are going to eat my dog when they are outside. Even the owners scream at them to stop. It is very unnerving. Then one of the board members is delinquent by 3 years on the dues because she has decided she doesn't need to pay since she is on the board. I can't take the neighbors around here. I was looking for a forum to vent about the jerks around here and I came across this site called http://urajerk.com and I sent all of those idiots on the board and all my lovely neighbors with the ugly pools an anonymous card. LOL I loved it. I know it sounds stupid but I feel better. He he he.

Yvonne DiVita

Wow, Mary. So, like, are you gonna become a real estate agent? I think they could learn a thing or two from you. I especially love #4...the story is what I want to hear.

(just coincidentally, we are looking at houses...and NO ONE is doing this, but boy, they should!)

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