Few of us can afford to dabble in the million-dollar home market. But today's sellers can learn a thing or two from the folks who do.
One of those people is Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing in Stevens, Pennsylvania. She's not a big-money real estate agent, but she is an expert on the affluent market. And she just released a report on effective marketing for upper-crust houses.
The good news is that many of Danziger's research-based tips apply to houses at any price.
One tip: Danziger says you should stress "brands" that speak to the quality of your home. For example, if you know your home was built by a company with a great reputation in your community, make sure potential buyers know that. Tell the company's story: how long they've been in business, how many houses they've built, what awards they've won, and so on.
But don't stop there, advises Danziger. "Take a full inventory" of the brand-name products you have in your home.
Appliances are a good place to start. Whatever brand (or brands) they might be, find out about their quality and repair records from a resource such as Consumer Reports.
For instance, Kenmore has a reputation as being the least expensive -- but that brand also lasts longer than most others, and has one of the best repair records. So if you happen to have a Kenmore fridge, stress that fact in your marketing materials.
Brands go beyond appliances, though. How about your light fixtures? The contractor who redid your bathroom? The architect who designed your house in the first place? They all have reputations that can help make your house look better than the competition in the eyes of would-be buyers.
"They testify to the price tag," Danziger says.
Next, the luxury expert wants sellers to "tell stories" about their homes, as opposed to just listing their features.
Of course, a clear-cut, objective list of the home's details -- square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and baths, etc. -- is necessary. But, she points out, a list "tells a prospective buyer nothing about the experience of living" in the place.
Rather than just describing features, Danziger wants sellers to "talk about what it feels like to live there."
"Story-based listings that weave the home's facts and figures into the story 'romance' the listing and make it come alive," she says. "(You) must tell stories engaging enough to make the prospective buyer curious enough to call your agent and set up an appointment to experience the home for themselves."
Here's an example that Danzinger used in recent presentations to three large realty firms: "Enter this breathtaking 2.36-acre estate in prestigious Wyomissing County and drive down a beautiful tree-lined lane that flanks a majestic, sweeping front lawn."
You may not have two-plus acres or a tree-lined driveway, but you get the idea. Tell what it's like to walk in the front door. What do you see? Where does it lead? Play up what is striking or different about the home. A winding stairway with lots of natural light filtering in, perhaps. Or a finished basement that serves as your cozy man cave.
Here, you or your listing agent might want to hire a professional writer to do your storytelling. Danziger goes so far as to suggest realty brokers make a writer part of their staffs. "Put one on the payroll and see the difference it makes to the listings and sales," she says.
Too expensive? Not necessarily. It's certainly cheaper than hiring a photographer, and real estate agents and brokers think nothing about hiring a pro to do their photography and videography.
Yet they write up their listings themselves. And that, Danziger says, is "a huge mistake! A big missed opportunity!"
"Writers can take that fact-based listing description, including the extensive brand-name inventory, and tell a story about the home that will romance the listing and make it pop."