A three-bedroom one-bathroom house in Mangere East languished on the market for 10 weeks in 2017 until “Salesman Pat” Lapalapa got a look at it.
The Ray White Manurewa agent convinced the vendor to market it as “within walking distance to KFC,” and had three offers within a week.
Lapalapa was also the brains behind a recent standing room only auction for a Manurewa property with a $1 reserve that sold for $71,000 more than the CV of $530,000.
Despite the success of both marketing tactics, he said he won’t repeat either for future sales: “I’ve seen a few agents use the KFC line since I did it but it doesn’t have the same effect. Originality is key.”
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Laplapa said he always tries to find a “funny spin” on things.
Jock Kooger hadn’t intended to be funny when he filmed a promotional video for a waterfront property in Manly, Whangaparoa.
“A colleague mentioned how close the property was to the water and the owners said I should go and jump off the cliff and I said if it will help get the sale, then sure,” he said.
The stunt was shared globally.
Bindi Norwell, chief executive at Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) said she has “definitely seen a pickup” in creative techniques being used and then copied over the last few years.
“From free sports cars or jet skis with the sale of a property, through to agents jumping into lakes or swimming pools fully suited for a marketing video. Even listing a property for sale by Bitcoin has been a popular marketing technique.
“These marketing campaigns often pick up some media attention, making for a good news story, and sometimes are a way of introducing a property to a new market segment. We have heard of purchasers who have come across these campaigns and ended up being the buyer, so it is possible to reach a new audience by being a bit innovating and doing something different with the listing,” she said.
Kooger ultimately didn’t sell the property. The owners turned down a “really good” offer, then later ended up selling the property for less with another agent, he said.
“Success of a marketing campaign doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find a buyer.”
He recently made a 3D tour of a house in which one of the neighbours poked their head into a shot. Instead of re-making the video, they got permission to leave him in there and made spotting the man a game for people.
“That worked really well. The spin on it has to come naturally. You need a unique situation or a unique house. It’s not for every property.”
But generally speaking, the more people talking about a property, means more interest, more potential buyers, and a higher price.
“There is zero risk involved” in getting creative, he said.
“New Zealand currently has a strong market where there is a shortage of listings and strong demand for good properties, meaning there is generally high competition already for each property,” continues Norwell.
“If the property is exactly what someone is looking for, it is unlikely that they would be put off by what could be seen as a marketing ‘gimmick’”.
Creative marketing techniques are typically used in conjunction with the usual content you would expect from a listing.
The results speak for themselves, said Century 21 Collett Realty owner Liam Collett.
“Not too many properties were moving,” in June 2019.
The vendor of an 8.2 hectare lifestyle block in Waitoki that included a three-bedroom Lockwood home, a smaller dwelling, large sheds and mechanic’s workshop, a lockable truck yard, horse stables, equestrian arena and two ponds, wanted to move quickly.
“I turned around and said let’s throw the car into the deal –as a joke – and she said yes.”
But whether the orange MP4-12C McLaren sportscar was actually free or not is in the eye of the beholder.
The house had a 2017 council valuation of $2.3m and immediately became a multi-offer situation. It sold for $2.58m within five days.
The success inspired a similar strategy for a “plain Jane” rental property in Northcote. The five-bedroom concrete house, put on the market for $975,000, had “good bones” but needed a new kitchen, landscaping and repairs to its “wear and tear”.
The vendor was a big traveller and was “thrilled” to fund a $20,000 first-class holiday to Singapore fo a first home buyer.
The buyer ended up being an investor, who came to an arrangement with the seller regards the trip.
Collett said he would never use freebies as a marketing strategy if the owner expected to obtain a higher sale price in return.
“The house will sell for what it sells for.
“I’m not in the business of selling cars or holidays. I’m in the business of selling a good experience when people buy and sell real estate. It’s just a bonus.”
Even without any “special extras”, Collett said middle-of-the-range properties on the North Shore aren’t sitting on the market for longer than week at the moment.
But it’s his personal goal to add experiences to as many sales as possible.
For the standard North Shore house, he likes to throw in a brand-new car. Something like a Mitsubishi.
“We can do this when the older generation want to give something extra to people. Sometimes when you have multi-offer situations a vendor will want to know about people. Some people would rather sell their house for a lower price to a first home buyer because it helps a family.
“There are also clients out there who consider $50 to $150,000, the cost of a freebie, as not that much money.”
Zani Polson, agent for Harcourts Holmwood in Christchurch, started playing dress up in her listing videos.
She played a granny to illustrate a character home in Linwood and dressed from different decades for a property that had been with the same family for 60 years.
Most people who came to see the house commented on her getups.
“It’s nice to engage with people and make them laugh,” Polson said.
She also always has a bowl of chocolate fish out at every listing.
“Some people go to 10-15 homes in a weekend, but they remember a bit of chocolate,” she said.
“Each agent has their own particular style of marketing and techniques that they use to sell property, with no clear indication that any one way is better than another,” said Norwell.
She recommends that vendors work with an agent they trust and communicate their personal preference for how they want their home to be marketed clearly.