How honesty in advertising is paying off for one Melbourne real estate agency

Forget “This house has good bones”, the signboard out the front of a MATTHEWS. listing is much more likely to say “Makeover or bulldozer? This one’s a real 50-50”.

If you can’t already tell, MATTHEWS. is an agency that doesn’t subscribe to your typical real estate marketing collateral. 

Of course there’s signboards, ad copy, online listings and social media posts, but it’s the text that makes the agency, and the listings, stand out.

John Matthews started the Moonee Ponds based agency about 18 months ago with a desire to be different.

“A lot of agencies do the same thing – we all list and sell houses – but I felt there was a gap in the market by taking some more risks,” he says.

“That gap had to do with advertising because with auctions, negotiations and sales, that’s all the same, but there was a gap in advertising and marketing the homes differently.

“We thought it would give vendors a quirky campaign and an edge in the market. It would make them stand out a little bit more.”

And stand out the vendor’s homes do, with some of the marketing slogans reading: “Imagine what you’d have to pay for this if it was in Moonee Ponds” to promote a home’s value for money, or “Beverly Hills style mansion. The kind of home you’d see on Netflix’s Selling Sunset,” for a more lavish property.

And if it’s a knock-down and rebuild property, John says you’re just as likely to see a signboard out the front telling prospective buyers they know a demolition guy.

“It’s just about honesty in advertising,” John says.

“It’s a great street, an excellent block, but the house is stuffed.

“It shocks people. They drive past the board, and we put it in big caption text, they read it and they almost crash the car thinking, ‘that’s interesting that the agent wrote that the house was crap.”

A MATTHEWS Instagram post.

But John says it’s a marketing method that works and it’s only ever done with the vendors fully on board.

It’s also just one part of a strategy that includes stunning photography, floor plans, 3D virtual tours and a strong social media presence.

“We want someone to be able to get one of our listings on the couch at 7pm at night and they can read the ad, have a look at the photos, look at the floor plan and then they can walk through with their fingers on a Matterport 3D tour and actually inspect it,” John says.

“We also have videos and we’ve gone with a specialist video production company that do a bit of a short film and we don’t bastardise it by having a terrible actor, or agent, in the video.”

But John says the agency does like to promote its agents, and all of its team members, on their social media platforms, including just sold posts and agent profiles.

John says since opening the Puckle St agency 18 months ago, the team has grown from four to eight members, including property management, and the office has just chalked up $200 million in total sales volume.

He says the agency has somewhat of a unique model in that it doesn’t have an in-house administration team and the savings made in that area are then spent on things like social media experts.

“There’s a few things we’ve done differently to keep the overheads reasonable but provide the client bang for buck,” John explains.

“Do you want someone in-house doing administration or do you want an expert social media specialist and organic content creator getting lots of views on your home?”

John says the goal is to entrench the agency in the Mooney Ponds real estate landscape, before looking to expand to other areas.

“We feel like we’ve got a really good model that we can roll out into other areas but we want to crawl before we can walk and walk before we run,” he says.

“We want to make sure that this office is strong, that we’ve got a good team and that everyone is healthy and then we’ll look at going into other markets and probably give the opportunity for that to people who are already within the team.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.