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Accentuate the Positive? Maybe Not!

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By Patricia Kennedy

Patricia Kennedy

Patricia Kennedy

How do you market a house that’s beyond awful?

You price it right.

But it’s more important to lower the expectations of colleagues and buyers – and to do it in a way that still gets them in the door and makes them laugh.

In one of Washington, D.C.’s worst ever markets, some dear friends called. Both architects, they had purchased an old fixer-upper in Dupont Circle, a chic and trendy D.C. neighborhood. But instead of fixing it up, they moved to Ireland and rented to a bunch of graduate students at a prestigious nearby university. Now they wanted to sell, and they didn’t have cash to invest in preparing it for the market.

After our conversation, I went by to take a look at this wonderful wreck, and I was pretty appalled. The future diplomats who lived there had trashed the place – beer cans, pizza boxes, and large bags of Goat Chow for the house mascot.

It looked awful. It smelled worse. Still, I took the listing, against my better judgment.

In the MLS information, my marketing materials and the Washington Post ad, I wrote:

Abominable Condition: 4-level Dupont Circle bay front Victorian has seen too many toga parties.

Then I added the price and open house information.

I had a mob scene, and three offers. The people who came in couldn’t believe that a real estate agent would write this kind of ad. They had to see for themselves.

If I’d accentuated the positive – the great architectural details (at least the ones the goat hadn’t already eaten), the convenient location and the size of the property – people would have come by and walked out disappointed. By using humor to prepare them for the realities of this abused former beauty, I had much better luck.

Patricia Kennedy is an associate broker with Evers & Company Real Estate.Visit Pat’s blog: www.housepat.activerain.com.

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Comments 17

  1. Hilarious! Not only was it funny but you was telling the truth. When I get a listing like the one similiar to yours at least I’ll know how to write the ad.

  2. Hi Pat… You are absolutely right… if you price a property appropriately, and promote in a manner that sets the correct expectations, then buyers will respond to that. After over 5 years as a Short Sale specialist I have learned that expectation setting is a critical success factor (much more so than puffery) in successfully marketing listings.

  3. Pat, now that is a great ad, and you are right, if you accentuated anything positive, they would have left angry. Great job! We should all remember that.

  4. LOL! The truth works better than trying to cover stuff up. Like when agents only take one picture of the home because it is bad shape. Buyer’s want to know what they’re seeing before they get there. So many people look at homes online first. Great preparation!

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