Marketing the worst house in the suburb

Congratulations – the worst house in the world is now your listing! The damp rises faster than you can say ‘no cooling off period’ and the current tenants are furry and squeaking. Renece Brewster of Visual Domain explains how to use video to sell the impossible.

Observing bulging ceiling panels, you are already considering some seriously ambiguous text – ‘Renovator’s Delight – First Home Opportunity’ – and perhaps someone will be curious enough to inspect. But as you gaze into the smelly walk-in robe (no wait, it’s the master bedroom), you could be forgiven for thinking this is the last property on earth you would ever market with a video. However, you could be overlooking a highly effective marketing tool that will inspire dozens of buyers.

Whether it is a house or an apartment, the key selling point for all difficult properties is potential. Video is the only medium in which you can persuade viewers of opportunity for renovation (or demolition) just as effectively as you would in person – saving hours of time in inspections and slicing weeks from the marketing campaign.

Research shows that listings with video attract 410% more enquiries than listings without video (Domain.com.au, 2011).

That is because video is more engaging than photos or text. Research shows that listings with video attract 410% more enquiries than listings without video (Domain.com.au, 2011). From a branding perspective, it is worth noting that video listings achieve three times as many clicks through to Agency Details (Domain.com.au, 2011). You can awaken buyers to a much wider range of possibilities using the emotive power and strong viewer engagement of video.

You can awaken buyers to a much wider range of possibilities using the emotive power and strong viewer engagement of video.

You do not need to pretend this property is perfect, or even average. Many buyers (especially first home buyers) are willing to overlook more than a few defects in their search for a rough diamond. What’s more, acknowledging a property’s shortcomings often builds credibility in the buyer’s mind.

Let us run through a few creative tips for making videos that enhance the property’s benefits without dwelling on its limitations.

Firstly, when you are presenting to camera, it is best to be specific about how to breathe new life into the property. For example, you might say: “Underneath this carpet lies original Kauri floorboards ready to be polished into a stunning timber floor. This roof space is waiting for revitalization with a simple loft-conversion. What is now an avocado-and-brown themed bathroom, will be a Caesarstone delight with a little resurfacing.” Suggesting ideas for improvement are how videos communicate true potential – just as you would in person.

One agent who has put this technique to great effect is Craig Williamson, Director of Buxton Real Estate. ‘Many agents assume if a property isn’t in great condition, it’s best not to show it,’ says Craig. ‘But in my experience, video attracts significantly more interest, not only for perfect properties but also those in need of repair or renovation.’ In a recent video for an older-style residence, Craig emphasised the strong potential for a fourth bedroom, highlighted the gardens, spaciousness, and proximity to schools. This resulted in a sale $30k over reserve and the owners were thrilled with Craig’s approach.

Now, if a room is in serious disrepair, you don’t need to show it – a scan across a floor plan diagram gives an idea of scale and proportion, while voiceover or graphics describe details as much or little as required. On-screen text is helpful in revealing less visible features such as air conditioning, security alarms and surface finishes.

How about an instant makeover? Before/after visualizations give your campaign a ‘wow’ factor that is unique to video. If you have photos of a similar property newly renovated or of the property in its glory days, your video can transition between two images: the drab kitchen dissolves into a fresh, light-filled wonder. Another technique is to superimpose images of stylish interiors, colour palettes or close-ups of artistic details. An important note, however: be sure your video graphics clearly state these are images for inspiration, not of the property in its current condition. Your intention is to inspire, not mislead.

If it is an investment opportunity, infographics are a great way to present key statistics. Animated graphs and charts can be used to show trends, pricing and predicted returns. Similarly, a map image is helpful to highlight geographic features and indicate proximity to nearby infrastructure.

Of course, there are some properties even Bob the Builder cannot fix. If it is a demolition job or vacant block, footage of the local area is terrific for buyers looking to get an idea of the ‘vibe’. You can demonstrate proximity to transport by strolling out of the station (‘It’s just two minutes’ walk to the station – I made it in one!’), pointing out the best shop in the main street, or tucking into a hearty meal at one of the fine local establishments. In fact, you could spend a whole day presenting the key attractions of the suburb – all in the name of work, naturally!

If you don’t possess the on-camera charisma of a celebrity on Getaway, that’s okay. Professional voiceovers add polish while still engaging the viewer’s emotion and trust. Voiceover artists are very affordable, they usually record within 24 hours, and scripts can usually be read directly from marketing copy.

These are just a few techniques for using video to sell the potential of more difficult listings. Never underestimate your audience – when buyers see one photo online with limited text, they already know the property is less than perfect and are likely to assume the worst. However, if you seize the bull by the horns, take a ‘warts and all’ approach and showcase the potential with a video, you’ll have an effective marketing tool that is working for you 24 hours a day, inspiring dozens of buyers just as effectively as you would in person.

Renece Brewster is CEO of Visual Domain Australia. Her expertise is real estate digital marketing strategy and online video production, with a background in web-based marketing communications, integrated database systems, and digital content delivery solutions. Visual Domain is a partner of Domain.com.au and Fairfax Media.

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