By Carl Carter, APR, AMM
Every real estate auctioneer I know faces a constant balancing act in deciding how much information to provide on the Internet for an upcoming auction. We have to offer enough to get people interested in the property, but not so much that we lose traffic that might result in bids.
To keep the language simple here, I’m going to use the example of selling a luxury home, because there seem to be more homes lately going to auction. But the same principles hold for any property. If it’s an office building, you’ll show and describe different aspects, but you’ll always have some tipping point where you move from “selling” to “TMI” (too much information). You know the difference, even if you haven’t thought about it. And trust me, prospective bidders know it too.
So let’s look at some elements of your marketing in search of the point where, “Oh, I must see this!” turns into, “Um, maybe not.”
- Maintain high quality standards. How much quality material do you have? Sort through your photos and select the best ones that show the most important aspects of the asset. If a photo is out of focus or underexposed, throw it out. With today’s digital cameras, you should have plenty of alternatives that are better. Now do the same thing with your words. What are the features that would compel someone to bid? How well have you described them? Are they clear? Do they raise unanswered questions?
- Avoid repetition. Now and then, I’ll see a web site where an auctioneer has use five or six photos of the same granite island or swimming pool. At best, these weigh down your site, and at worst, they can be confusing to the individual. Does the house have six kitchens? Sure, the visitor will figure it out pretty quickly, but why put them to the trouble? It’s fine to shoot different angles if they help tell the story, such as how well the pool is landscaped or how close the dining area is. But consider whether you shouldn’t be focused on the landscaping or the dining area anyway.
- Be careful with oversharing the personal story behind the asset. I’m a storyteller by nature and by trade, and the story can help generate interest. But I’ve learned the hard way that overdoing the background can backfire, especially with luxury homes. The seller may have a compelling story about the painstaking effort to import a certain type of marble or to commission hand-painted wallpaper. But this can backfire. Why? Because the person who’s willing to spend $5 million on a “custom” house probably wants to feel that it’s his custom house, not somebody else’s. Remember what the bidder is buying and keep the focus on the assets you can deliver.
- Avoid relying on celebrity connections. I’ve written dozens of stories promoting homes that have belonged to professional athletes, actors, rock stars and other celebrities. If the celebrity is the current owner and willing to be front-and-center, it may help you get some publicity on the auction. But if anything, the sale prices on their properties tends to be lackluster. I can hardly point to a blowout celebrity-home auction, and can’t say with confidence that the connection increases the value. I can say with great confidence that past owners add little or no value. An ugly or poorly built home won’t bring more because a B-list celebrity owned it in the 1990s.
Finally, remember that the quality of your web site, video, photos, brochures, signs and other promotional products also conveys a message about the quality of your company.