Thursday, November 20, 2008

'House Whisperer' listens to, sells homes

Get a good writer (ahem) who can really listen to what your home is saying, write it all down and package the prose with professional photos, floorplans and panache.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - There's this guy who talks to houses.

Houses, not horses.

No, wait. Houses talk to him.

He listens to what they say.

They tell him what to write.

Home buyers eavesdrop.

Homes sell like hotcakes.

This isn't the story board of a pilot for a new real estate TV series, but a tried-and-true technique used by a real estate broker who does happen to have a little celebrity status -- if only among his clients.

More important than his star-status is a technique he uses that can shed some bright light on how sellers can move homes off the multiple listing service and into escrow.

He's "House Whisperer" Stan Barron, Austin, TX-based real estate broker.

Seriously, again, this is not prime time programming planning.

“Keep in mind, the house is oriented so the view through the windows is totally private -- no drapes are required. So, on a chilly weekend, you can peacefully start your morning by watching a fog cloud hover over the treetops while you make fresh coffee -- the home has a calming and meditative spirit.”
Barron just has a knack for "listening" to a home and borrowing an advertising technique created by marketing maven David Ogilvy, who is often called "The Father of Advertising."

Instead of just recasting basic facts -- square footage, number of rooms, amenities -- with a canned description of the property, Barron gets inside a house's head, by spending time learning how it became a home. He researches previous owners, gets to know the builder and learns how the structure has endured the passing of time.

Then he lays it all out in a 1,000-word marketing article complete with professional photographs and floor plans. One thousand words about a piece of property? Works for Madison Avenue, why not Main Street.
“Get the image of ordinary pools out of your mind. Instead, think about the design process that takes place when a spa hotel wants an exotic pool for its guests. For starters, the setting here is private -- as in "bathing suits-are-optional" private. The pool, and walkabout spaces are commercially sized -- ideal for entertaining if you want to throw a summer bash and fundraiser complete with band and caterers. Organically shaped to resemble a pond, it provides not only a pool but also a water element.”
Call rewrite. This isn't going to show up on Oprah's Book Club list.

But it's not supposed to be.

It's more sit-across-the-table conversational prose designed to find the right buyer for the right home.

Not sugary sweet, but occasionally flowery and at times boastful, Barron's writing also doesn't gloss over critical points. He is willing to sacrifice the broader buying public in order to make an intimate connection with a smaller cross section of the market -- buyers seeking a given home Barron details with words.

It works.

Check out the winning work of his mentor Ogilvy. Prose. Prose. More prose.

Barron proved himself, not during boom times, but in the dismal Austin market 18 years ago. He sold his first nine homes quickly and for the original asking price, using the power of the pen. Again back in the early 2000s when it was tough to give homes away, Barron came through for his clients.
“Good energy and natural light flow into every corner of the home. The two-story entry not only creates a sense of spaciousness, but you get an immediate taste of the home's appealing architecture. For example, instead of a typical staircase that leads straight up, this one has a dramatic flair with angled landings, metal railings and balusters with turned iron accents. It has a practical result too. The interesting shape of the staircase creates a vest-pocket notch at the foyer that is ideal for placing a very tall Christmas tree.
Get your agent to either hire a writer or become one to give your home a good shout out.

If you are in Austin, you're already in business.

Stan, apparently, is the man.

"Your ads look just like mine, best of all they are working," Ogilvy once said of Barron.

Like this story? See:
Blue water view penthouse review
Digitally enhancing home values, sales
Tips for sellers down on their luck
More home selling tips

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also the Silicon Valley Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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