3BR Victorian ISO new owners
You see homes for sale with their own websites all the time. But how about one in which the home speaks directly to potential buyers?
That's what Matt McDermott put together for his property in Baltimore's Lauraville neighborhood, a 1918 house with three bedrooms, tiered decks and a Koi pond that's on the market for $165,000. "I'm just an old Victorian looking for a new family to make me a home," the site declares, with page headers such as "pics of me" and "stuff around me." The house blogs and tweets.
It sets the scene in an autobiographical blog post:
I used to belong to an interior designer who was on HGTV. He put a lot of love into restoring me and making me beautiful. That's why my current family fell in love with me. I was the place where they cut their first lawn, where their boy took his first steps, where they had their first cookout. But it's hard for them to keep up with a big place like me, especially when they have to travel so much for work. They both work in and near DC.
So they're hoping we can find someone who can take care of me. I'd like that very much, too.
McDermott gave more of the backstory in an email. It's a housing-bust tale that anyone who bought toward the end of the boom days will probably sympathize with.
He and his wife bought the home four years and several life changes ago. Now his wife works in Washington, a long commute, and the two are parents. "It's become too much house for us, and that breaks our hearts because we absolutely love it," he said.
Even without the emotions involved, selling is no easy matter.
"Since we bought our house in 2007 (for $270K), the value's dropped $110K. Couple that with the fact that there are more than 150 properties for sale in the 21214 zipcode alone, and our prospects of selling the home look pretty dim."
It's on the market as a short sale. The lender has pre-approved such a move, McDermott said.
He said his real estate agent has worked "extremely hard to make something happen," and he and his wife wanted to help. So McDermott, who works in advertising with an emphasis on social media, launched the website on Sunday.
"I tell stories to win over consumers," he said. "It made sense to put a little of that love into our house."
Thus the website/blog and Twitter account. He also set up "targeted Twitter searches to reach out to people when they mentioned stuff like buying a home in, living in, or moving to Baltimore."
To one Twitterer who declared that she needs to move into a city -- "Baltimore City, DC, NY" -- the "house" responded: "I hear ya. Personally, I recommend Baltimore. Somewhere in the neighborhood of me." (I heard about the campaign through a tweet -- not from McDermott or his house, but rather from another Twitter user who figured I'd be interested.)
McDermott also created a Facebook Marketplace listing and a "tiny paid ad campaign targeted to a specific buyer demo (based on geography, age, marital status)."
"It's still a work in progress, but it's had some modest results since I set it up on Sunday," he said. "A little over 600 visits to the blog and more than two-dozen comments/mentions on Twitter and Facebook. Plus, about 16,000 Facebook ad impressions and 30-some click throughs to the blog." (And most importantly, "a few people who've expressed an interest in checking the place out in person.")
The idea of a short sale wasn't easy to stomach, McDermott said. But "in a way, it's better for the house (yes, we tend to personify the place). If someone can purchase it at a better price than we did, they'll have more resources to maintain it and improve it."
What do you think of this marketing strategy? Does personification help sellers connect with buyers on an emotional level?