As I prepare to place a new business card order for the first time in forever, certain aspects of its predecessor can stand some revision. After years of template neglect, for instance, I’m humiliated to admit that my email still reflects the AOL address I acquired in college. While not amongst the technology snobs (you know who you are) that mock those still utilizing the America Online paradigm, I made the switch to a branded gmail account several years ago. I’d say I never looked back, but that would be a gross distortion of the truth as I have to log in sporadically to ensure I haven’t missed any correspondence from a holder of one of the 3″ x 2.5″ instruments of disinformation I continue to dispense with impunity. Or for confirmation of my Nigerian lotto winnings (funny, I don’t recall purchasing a ticket …). While ironing out such inconsistencies, it’s probably not a bad idea to include passing reference to the website to which I’ve devoted THE LAST TWO YEARS OF MY FREAKING LIFE either.
So I can be somewhat resistant to change, sue me. One person’s hoarding is another person’s preparedness. Roll your eyes if you must, but don’t come looking to borrow my red parachute pants when breakdancing comes back.
Amongst the myriad changes that Business Card 3.0 will entail, I figure it’s time to roll out a new tagline. You know, like Hasta la vista, buyer, or I’ll be back … with a standard AAR purchase contract. Just updated to have a relevant, modern edge. Given the changes in the industry over the past few years, I need a blurb that tells people I am hip to the new jive. Let’s try a few out.
Transparency, it’s all the rage in modern internet marketing. With that in mind, we could always cut straight to the quick with, You need a house. I sell houses. Boom, done.
Post-Bubble Apocalyptic: Leg stuck in a negative-equity bear trap? I have a saw.
Partisan: Freaking Obama. (alternate version: Freaking Boehner)
Short Sale Negotiation: Don’t call me, I’ll call you.
The Foreclosure Specialist: Predators, Incorporated. You need’em, we bleed’em.
The Roger Waters BPO: Hello, is there anybody in there?
The Lawrence Yun: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The John Merrick: I am not an animal, I’m a licensed Realtor!
The Full Monty: I’m broke. Buy something!
The REHarmony.Com: Deep Levels of Compatibility with Your Money
The Ike Turner: Slapping the taste out of value’s mouth since 1999!
The British Petroleum: Your guide to housing values that have fallen by 2%. Okay maybe 5%. 15% tops. Alright, 60%, but it’s not like you can’t go commune with a cactus in the Gobi, you bunch of moisture-starved jawas.
The Chilean Miner: Trapped in an underground mortgage since 2006, and I all got was this lousy t-shirt.
The Baby Jessica: Posers.
The Max Von Sydow: Your REO Hellhole Exorcist
The B of A: Your One Man Foreclosure Moratorium
The FED: Going Out Of Business Sale, All Rates Must Go!
The Realist: Paul’s House of Puppeteering, Magic and Real Estate
The Obscurist: When your donkey brays in fiscal agony, don’t let it bleed out on the berber carpet
The Serial Market Killer: Have you checked the Zestimate? (alternate: It puts the charge-off on its credit)
On second thought, maybe I should just let the marketing talent at HA Media save me from myself.
Open houses were how I made my initial bones in the Real Estate business. One of the tried and true methods for encountering the home buying public in its natural environment, it proved to be the old school prospecting technique that was the best fit for my sensibilities as a rookie agent. Why sit in a hermetically sealed cubicle, cold calling non-receptive “leads,” when those with an interest in a product type, if not the actual product I was hawking, would willingly walk through the front door and engage me in non-abusive conversation? Actual face time with actual consumers, you can’t beat it.
Lacking a single stalwart in my empty stable of listings at that nascent stage of my career, it wasn’t unusual for me to sit open the listings of colleagues. One in particular still stands out. A gorgeous semi-custom Spanish style home in McCormick Ranch, I couldn’t wait to throw my directional signs all over the neighborhood and wait for the inevitable human deluge. A planned community that is one of the few pockets that produces enough traffic to make the exercise worthwhile, chances were good that I would pick up a few decent buyer leads, if not sell the property on the spot.
The day before the scheduled open house, I met the owner at the property to introduce myself and assure him I was not a kleptomaniacal serial killer. Satisfied I wasn’t there to steal the toaster, he proceeded to give me the tour. I’d already previewed the home prior to selecting it as a viable open house candidate, but I was happy to oblige the owner’s turn as proud tour guide.
Until we got to the fun bubble.
A property that featured newer construction and more modern architecture than neighboring subdivisions, granite countertops, porcelain tile flooring and additional hot button features too numerous to count, and the poor, misguided soul had it in his mind that demonstrating the “fun bubble” feature in the swimming pool would sway potential buyers to slap their cash down on the barrel. Now, I like fun, and I like bubbles, but frankly, this bubble was apathetic at best. As I have yet to encounter the buyer who includes a fun bubble amongst his/her criteria, however, the fun factor is largely irrelevant. Your pool could turn into a cauldron of unmitigated mirth at the turn of a rheostat, and I am still not demonstrating it to every buyer who walks through the front door. That’s not salesmanship. That’s “What do I have to do to get you in this house today?”
The oft overlooked component of selling is the ability to discern what is of material import to a prospective customer, and what is … well … a fun bubble.
Following a buyer around a home like the security guard at Ross is more likely to result in a restraining order than a ratified purchase contract. Selling the brushed nickel doorknobs, blood red curtains, pewter towel racks and five-bladed ceiling fan to the prospect who is only interested in the room dimensions is a losing proposition. You run the risk of chasing away a perfectly good buyer before reaching an item of any import to him, and/or missing a chance at the other prospect wandering down the opposite hallway unescorted while you yammer on about the Pella windows on a home that is $200,000 out of mark number one’s price range.
Enthusiasm and pride of ownership is commendable, but leave some mystery for the second showing. Gotta make sure the hook is firmly set before we can encapsulate your buyer in a bubble of home buying fun.