Elite AgentFeature Interviews

Holly hits a homerun: Holly Komorowski

Holly Komorowski does things differently. Her signboards have ditched the words ‘For Sale’ in favour of ‘Buy Me’, and her ‘Sold’ stickers come in the form of eye-catching hearts with the words ‘#sold.byholly’ standing out boldly. Having won the AREA Residential Property Campaign of the Year award, she talks to Kylie Dulhunty about her unique approach to property marketing.

Holly Komorowski’s business cards are distinctive: she’s not opposed to having her business name glowing in neon pink, and you’ll find her posting pics of happy vendors and buyers jumping for joy on social media.

Perusing her website, home.byholly, there’s little sign of overused real estate jargon coined to dress up homes. Long forgotten are phrases such as ‘commanding street appeal’ and twee references to ‘quaint front porches’. Rather, there’s quotes from 19th century designer, writer and activist William Morris, talk of lifestyle choices, Christmas traditions and making the most of second chances in life.

Casting an eye over one of Holly’s marketing photographs would have anyone oohing and aahing as much over the vendor’s pet pooch as you are over the ensuite spa bath. And that’s the point.

“It’s about conveying emotion and generating emotional engagement,” Holly says. “First and foremost we try and find the story behind the home. What’s the pitch? Is it the story of the home? Perhaps it’s the story of the people who have lived there or the features that make it liveable.

“We want to create a ball of positive energy around each and every property we market, and we use creativity to generate that.”

It’s a method that’s served Holly and her boutique Canberra agency well, with it securing the Residential Property Campaign of the Year gong at the 2017 Annual REA Excellence Awards.Holly and her small team, including her ‘Girl Friday’ Key Chantharasy and photographer Adam McGrath of H Creations, secured the national award for an innovative, social media-driven campaign that saw 44 Frome St, Griffith, sell under the hammer for $1.495 million after just a two-week auction campaign.

Holly says she had to think outside the square when her vendors, fuelled by a previous failed attempt to sell their home at auction, told her they’d prefer an ‘off-market’ approach this time around.

“I was faced with a client who was telling me ‘I don’t want to do it that way’,” Holly explains. “I loved that it challenged me to ask myself what I could do differently.”

After countless conversations about the vendors’ requirements and how they would approach achieving a premium result for the property, Holly suggested a two-stage, PR-style campaign that used social media to build excitement and anticipation around the home hitting the market, followed by a short, two-week auction campaign.

First on her to-do list was to style the home for sale.

“Whether you’re doing an off-market campaign or taking a more traditional route, the presentation of the property is the most important thing,”

Next came what Holly has affectionately named the ‘hero’ of the campaign: a stylised photoshoot conveying a Gatsby-style, poolside lounge party with people in the picture. “It seems like such a simple thing to put people in a picture, but traditionally people aren’t featured in real estate marketing collateral,” she says.

“Bringing people into an image conveys livability, it makes it personal and it conjures images of a particular lifestyle in the minds of those people looking at the photo.”

Having the stylised photoshoot allowed us to create our hero shot for the campaign and we were able to create a brand for the home just as you would for a commercial development.

“As well as being a very beautiful house by Kenneth Oliphant, a renowned architect in the 1940s, the home had a feel of being a party house, a real entertainer’s house, with it all centering around the amazing inground swimming pool and pool house.”

In a new-age move, Holly decided to livestream the photoshoot on Facebook before implementing a four-day social media campaign, featuring photos and two 10-second video teasers, ahead of an invitation-only, VIP buyer preview event at the property.

“We used the photoshoot to start anticipation on Facebook of this property coming to the market and the story of how it would come to market,” Holly explains. “We invited buyers’ agents and buyers to the VIP preview event and we were able to generate an offer of $1.38 million.

“Still, we decided to continue with a succinct campaign and took the property to market, putting it live on real estate channels, including allhomes digital and print and real estate.com.au digital.”

Holly held five appointment-only open homes and the property and campaign also attracted media editorial coverage, including a Canberra Times lifestyle story. The result was an auction culminating in three registered bidders and a sale price of $1.495 million, which was $105,000 above the first offer at the VIP event.

“Social media has presented us with fantastic opportunities,” Holly says. “The key to what we do is storytelling and social media is a great platform to do that. For this campaign our social media reach was in excess of 12,300, along with the Canberra Times print and digital reach of more than 55,900.”

For Holly, the REA award is a just reward for her seven years in real estate, culminating in going out on her own about two years ago. She says she felt she had built ‘a brand within a brand’ at her previous agency and did so largely through leveraging social media.

Even though she describes starting home.byholly as a “leap of faith”, she felt the success she had generated during her first five years in real estate was due to her hard work and unique approach to selling property..

“I always wanted to continue to improve and take things in the direction I had already started to go in,” Holly says. “It’s all about storytelling, images and being creative. I feel we’ve now really affirmed ourselves.”

Holly predicts the dramatic surge in real estate video marketing will continue, as will a focus on property-related content that gives audiences valuable information which is not a blatant or direct promotion of the brand or agent.

One example of this is home.byholly’s sponsorship of DESIGN Canberra last year and this year. As a platinum partner, Holly helps present the popular Living Rooms – open homes of acclaimed architecture, teamed with emerging designers’ pop-up exhibitions.

With her storytelling approach Holly has also marketed other properties in her unique style, teaming with photographer Adam to present “Jean’s house”, at 68 Ebden St Ainslie last year. A home most other agents would have marketed as a ‘knockdown’, Holly instead told stories of the vendor’s African violets enjoying the sunny kitchen and the chooks scratching around in the yard, with pictures to match. A family bought the property and are doing it up.

“I love what I do; I know it works, and having that point of difference has been received positively in the market,” Holly says.

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