Once back in the day, I listed a house that was a total dump. It had been inhabited by a group of wild and crazy graduate students and the house mascot - a pet goat. The goat had actually eaten several sections of an antique oak staircase. The place was truly awful.
And it smelled like a goat!
I sat in front of my computer screen at the office trying to think of how to write an ad that might attract a buyer.
There were all the euphemistic cliches:
- This Old House!
- Sweat Equity!
- Rehab Opportunity!
- Bring Your Decorator!
- Bring Your Architect
Nothing felt right. Then a wise old colleague suggested that I stop trying to be subtle and just tell it ike it was, and together we wrote an ad that totally captured the house. The ad read:
Abominable Condition: 4-level Victorian bay front has seen too many toga parties.
We included the price, neighborhood, address and Open House hours.
So the next Sunday, I stuck my arrows in the ground, tied on some helium balloons, and people started to come by - in droves! The most common remark was, "Wow! This place really isn't all that terrible!"
Couldn't they smell the goat? It's like they expect real estate agents to exaggerate!
At the end of the day, there were several offers, and one of them worked out.
My sellers lived in Ireland, and this was before online marketing became the cornerstone of any proper plan to get a listing sold. So they didn't see the ad we ran in the Washington Post. Had they been local or read the ad, they might have fired me! Except that when a story has a happy ending, they seem more foregiving.
I learned an important lesson from this - often lower expectations give you a higher chance of attracting a buyer! And that's true even when the house or condo is totally amazing.