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How we sold it: 19 Bul Bul Court, Ludmilla

The NT News is well known for its crocodile front pages, but there's a lot more to the masthead than that. When Darwin real estate agent Simon Watts sold his family home he knew the newspaper, along with News Corp Australia's digital platforms, would form part of the recipe to generate a great result.

When Darwin real estate agent, Simon Watts, decided to sell his own property, he admits he was a bit nervous.

Normally cool, calm and collected when working for other vendors, the Real Estate Central agent says he now has a greater appreciation for what his clients go through.

But, he said he also knew he had the “right recipe” to attract buyers and get the deal done at a good price.

That recipe included the key ingredients of professional photography and video, and advertising the property with a News Corp Australia print and digital campaign.

This included advertising in the NT News and News Corp Australia websites such as news.com.au.

The property also attracted editorial coverage in the Saturday NT News real estate liftout. 

“I had all the ingredients for the right recipe,” Simon says.

“I spent the money on the marketing, and I invested in the best method of sale. I knew the buyers were out there, I knew they were going to see it (the property) and I knew I’d get the best price from the buyers that were out there at that time.

1. List the property

Having extensive experience as a sales agent, it was a no-brainer for Simon to sell the family home. 

Surrounded by a lush, tropical garden, the elevated home featured four bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen, dining and living room, all flowing out to a treetop entertaining balcony.

There were also ground-level outdoor entertaining zones overlooking an inground pool and spa.

Simon says as well as targeting local house hunters, he wanted to ensure interstate buyers, particularly those from Melbourne and Sydney, saw the property.

“The market was running hot with interstate buyers, so I chose a News Property Marketing Prestige campaign, which targeted six different locations with digital advertising,” Simon explains.

“I really wanted to push it out there as opposed to potentially having it on the market for four to six weeks or more as that’s when you lose that optimum campaign timeframe and it starts going stale.”

19 Bul Bul Court, Ludmilla

2. The print campaign

Simon says the print campaign involved a double-page advertising spread in the real estate section of the NT News on the first weekend the property was on the market.

This was followed with full-page and half-page ads.

“Print still has a huge part to play in selling real estate,” he says.

“The NT News on a Saturday is the real estate bible for local buyers, and it certainly helps you get more numbers through your open homes.

“We had 12 groups through the first open home and 18 through the second.”

Simon also received coveted editorial in the real estate section, with a front cover and a full-page editorial.

He says this carries a lot of weight with prospective buyers.

News Corp Australia General Manager of Sales and Operations, Belinda MacPherson, oversees the network’s regional publications and says the NT News has a strong audience.

“The NT News has a very strong audience tuning in, particularly for our Saturday product where we carry the real estate news.

“It’s a really big driver of our audience on a Saturday.”

Belinda says the NT News is especially driven to engage with the real estate sector and its clients to aid its desire to act as the local voice of the territory.

“We work with all industry sectors to make sure we’re telling their story,” she says.

“Along with editorial on real estate, including new developments and trends we’re seeing across the territory, we tell their story through print advertising and the digital solutions we provide to real estate agents.

“We engage with our key agents to provide comment and commentary around the state of play in real estate.”

3. The digital campaign

The digital campaign for the Bul Bul Court property included social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram, as well as display advertising on News Corp Australia’s news and lifestyle websites.

Google Search Ads were also used, with potential buyers seeing the property when they typed in key search terms.

All the ads then pointed back to a dedicated website set up specifically for the property, which featured Real Estate Central’s branding.

Simon says the digital element of the campaign was a rousing success.

“The buyer was from Sydney, and they saw it online,” he explains.

“It was the first property they’d seen and the first inspection they did. We sold it (the property) after the second weekend.”

Belinda says the NT News has a large social and digital following attracted to its investigative journalism just as much as its croc front pages.

“The population of the Northern Territory is about 250,000, but the NT News has a social following of more than 350,000, and that’s just the Facebook audience,” she says.

“If I were to describe the NT News, I’d say it’s unconventional, it’s bold and it’s unashamedly territorian.

“The NT News is about escaping the daily grind, staying up-to-date with the latest news and enjoying the lighter side of life. 

“It’s also got a good balance of fair and investigative journalism… It’s not just crocodile front pages.”

4. Selling the home

Simon also turned to a digital solution to manage the sale and offer process, using online offer management platform Openn.

He says the sale method is clear and transparent for sellers and buyers, and it creates competition.

“The first bid I received was $500,000, but it sold for $324,000 more than that, just purely through the competition on the night,” Simon explains.

“Openn is brilliant because it’s open and transparent. A vendor can’t bid and an agent can’t bid. 

“It’s my go-to platform and while I have had buyers ring me and say, ‘I paid a bit more than I was planning on, but I love the property, so it’s worth it’, I don’t have buyers ring me to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was going to sell for that price’.”

Simon Watts and his family celebrate their property selling.

Overall, Simon says the campaign couldn’t have turned out any better.

“Marketing plays such a big part in the success of a campaign whether it’s for a $300,000 unit or a $2 million house,” he says.

“But if you invest the money upfront, you’ll get at least five times that in return.” 

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.