Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection

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Lowered Expectations?

A bunch of years ago, Washington, DC was in the strongest buyer’s market you could imagine.  Nothing was selling?  Why?

Our citizens elected a mayor who had just gotten out of the slammer for a cocaine conviction.

Some idiot was driving around a formerly popular downtown neighborhood shooting people.

City services became non-existant.  Schools were literally falling down.  We didn’t have pot holes.  We had cocaine holes.

Things were looking pretty bleak.  And in this context, I got a call from some old friends who had moved to Ireland and wanted to sell a house they had been renting out near Dupont Circle.

When I made arrangements to see the place, I was horrified.  The house had been rented to a bunch of graduate students from Johns Hopkins School of International Studies.  And they had a pet – a billy goat who was not quite house-broken and had eaten the antique stair rail.

My friends thought I was exaggerating the condition of the house, and we listed the place at just a hair above market.

The tenants moved out, and I was planning my first Open House for a Sunday afternoon.  Writing an ad was pretty daunting.  What could I say about the place?  A favorite colleague came to my rescue, and the two of us came up with an inspired ad:

Abominable Condition
Formerly gorgeous 4-story
Victorian bay-front has
seen too many toga parties!

We included the address and price and Open hours.

The Open House was mobbed.  Everyone assumed it couldn’t be as bad as I said it was – after all, real estate agents tend to exaggerate!  Their expectations were really low and the house was really awful.  And it worked!  By Monday morning, we had three offers on the table.

So, what did I learn that applies to this market?  Sure, you can write an ad that makes a listing sound a palace, and that will get lots of people in the door.  But if the place is not a palace, it will have attracted all the wrong buyers!  If you use humor and try to reach the actual target for your listing (in this case, it was someone willing to renovate) you’re more likely to get it sold!

And of course, the price has to be right, or at least almost right.


Comment balloon 5 commentsPatricia Kennedy • July 30 2007 10:52AM
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