Brisbane's rental market, Brisbane's sales market, Real Estate Marketing

Impatient bank managers, Australia’s worst house and lingerie models

For the record, we work hard to get our clients’ properties to stand out of the crowd. We’re not afraid to try new promotional tactics and it’s true the real estate marketplace can be crowded. But every now and then we see an approach to property marketing that’s really testing the limits.

Here’s how one Perth real estate agent recently advertised a house: “Bring your vomit bucket. Prepare to burn your clothes and take a detox shower. This is not a B grade movie. This is an A grade dump.” Billing it as “Australia’s worst house” the agent stirred up enquiry by facing its presentation problems head-on. It was a mess, tenants had apparently trashed the place and it badly needed work. And he reportedly sold it in one day. Happy seller, happy buyers, what’s to question?

A couple of years back a Gold Coast home was marketed with a raunchy video, the house hidden behind a lingerie-clad model for most of the clip. Apparently that too worked a treat with lots of interest and, most importantly, a sale. We thought it showed a lack of class but maybe we’re just getting old…

This agent did once run a newspaper ad with the headline “Nudist Wanted”. It was an inner-city home with a very private and leafy backyard. High fences, pool, you get the picture. But apparently the ad was too risque for Brisbane 1991 with several readers contacting the real estate institute to complain about us bringing the industry into disrepute. (The headline did work of course, albeit we never did ask the buyers’ their intentions for the place…)

We’ve also used the “worst house” headline and generated extraordinary enquiry for an auction. It was partially demolished so that’s how the owner himself described it to us. So we focused on the location, the land and the opportunity. We had 17 bidders that ran well past the reserve and the final price was extraordinary.

So why does this sort of real estate advertising draw so much enquiry? Whenever a home buyer sees an advert with mentions of “bank says it must be sold”, “deceased estate” or “separation forces sale”, their eyes light up. Greed’s a powerful motivator and ironically these properties often sell for more than we expect due to the huge enquiry levels.

It also shows that buyers will spend time checking a property when a seller shows they’re genuine about getting a result. Buyers are tired of half-serious listings with badly over-the-odds price expectations.

And the success of anything fresh in ads is also because real estate agents are often just plain boring with their ads. They’re usually great people people who can talk ‘til the cows come home. But ask an agent the one job they hate? Writing ads. So when there’s something fresh, something eye-catching or, dare we say it, something very honest, it does stand out. Honest real estate ads. There’s a twist.

But if you’re too honest how do your homes still sound exciting once buyers apply their BS-deflectors to the ads? Once their natural cynicism has reduced your “grand Queenslander” to “crappy worker’s cottage”? We’d suggest the answer lies in what we call “meaningful detail”. Our homes are not “close to shops”, they’re “1200m from Coles”. They’re not “architect-designed”, but “the fresh design work of Brisbane architects XYZ”. It’s a simple advertising tactic but one we’ve always used with great results.

Writing great real estate ads does take time and thought and it’s a big part of why you hire a great agent. If the sale really is being forced by the bank we’d recommend you consider the opportunity that presents. It might seem brave to admit that to the world but experience says a clever campaign will pay dividends.

Maybe you need lingerie models and maybe you don’t. But at least spend some time planning your campaign to get the best attention.

Please give us your thoughts by commenting below: How can real estate advertising be improved?