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I “heart” bad marketing

Posted by Rona Fischman April 13, 2012 01:59 PM

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As a buyer’s agent, I thrive on the mistakes of listing agents. This week, while going through listings for my clients, I came upon a listing sheet that hasn’t been updated this year. Within the remarks it read:

1st showings to be December 27th. Get your buyers ready. Won't last.

Since it is now mid-April, I think the rush may be over and that it did last. It doesn’t seem like a bad house, but my clients have been ignoring it because it has been on the market “forever.” In a spring market, what defines “too long” or even “forever.” What do you think?

Most of my clients ignore anything that has been on the market for triple digits. They are also sophisticated enough (or I teach them to be so) that they are aware of which of the houses are relisted. A house that fails to sell in a reasonable amount of time has one of a couple of problems. If the problem is the marketing, I see this as an opportunity.

If the problem is the house or the house’s location, marketing will help get it sold, but the price has to be lowered in relation to what is wrong with the house or its location. Anyone who is looking at the MLS has seen the ongoing “house on the highway” listings. The pictures look great; the room sizes are good; the price is reasonable. Bells go off…what’s wrong? Click on the map. Oh! A scenic view of Route 2. Some people don’t mind the noise and get a nicer house for the money. These houses are cheaper to get into and hard to get out of.

Marketing a house like that is tricky. I ran across this description of a house on a highway:

Nestled behind evergreens in desirable …. is sited on a beautiful half acre level lot of a tree-lined street.

People who are looking for a house nestled behind evergreens on a tree-lined street are not going to buy a house on the highway. The ones that use mapping software will not come. Those who come to see it will be disappointed.

I would prefer a respectful, but accurate description. Is it just me, or would you prefer something like:

Beautiful four bedroom colonial on nice street. Big lot. Evergreen trees block the busy road behind this house.

The reason I “heart” bad marketing is because if the house is marketed badly, for long enough, the seller gets good and sick of it. Then the seller is willing to come down in price just to end the pain. If the problem is marketing -- and not the house -- my clients can find a decent bargain, even in this difficult spring market.

(These houses are currently for sale. Please do not post their MLS numbers. That will spoil the fun by alerting the agent that we noticed.)

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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