Friday, March 13, 2015

Marketing King County Waterfront

Keeping with the waterfront theme we have been exploring in this blog all week, let's take a look at how to market a Lake Sammamish waterfront property.

With extremely tight inventory, low mortgage interest rates, an increasingly affluent workforce, and high demand for waterfront property, the most important marketing decision will be in pricing the property correctly. While homes in this price range sell any time of year (less so in the dead of winter), the Spring is an especially pretty time to sell, with trees and flowers budding, and more clear sunny skies.

With the median home selling in approximately 60 days in this price range, we would expect to receive an offer within this timeframe, if we have priced our property correctly. A properly-priced property will receive the most foot traffic in the first two weeks of listing, given timing of market materials and date of listing on the Multiple Listing Service. If there is insufficient traffic within the first two weeks, it is very likely that the property is priced too high.

What would be a reasonable amount of foot traffic for a property that is priced over $1M? There is no magic number for this, as many people will review a listing online, and make a go-no go decision based on an internet search first.

But there ought to be a steady stream of showings in the first two weeks. If not, I would consider a price drop at this point. Any price drop will create a bit more buzz and interest, as it will reappear in online searches. I have found that most buyers will not even make an offer, unless the price is within 2% of market value. This is why it is so important to price correctly at the beginning.

Automated site visit surveys solicit feedback from brokers on what they liked and didn't like about this house. This feedback loop is critical, as it allows for adjustments to pricing or marketing where needed quickly.

Because this is a high end home, it would be important to create high quality marketing materials that create interest immediately. The most important marketing piece will be the listing on the NWMLS. Here is where a lot of traditional real estate agents miss the boat by focusing on features of the house (number of bedrooms, number of baths, type of appliances, interior finishes, etc.) instead of focusing on LIFESTYLE BENEFITS.

EVERY listing on the NWMLS identifies features, so marketing materials that focus only on features waste valuable marketing opportunities.

Purchasing a home is an emotional decision, and any marketing materials should be designed to elicit an emotional response. What makes this location so appealing? What is the best part about living here? Why did the current homeowner buy this house? What is so special about this particular property? What kinds of recreation, fun, amenities are associated with this location? What possibilities are available within the current house configuration?

Professional photographs that accompany the listing description should also focus on fun and lifestyle, while giving the prospect a better understanding of the house. Staging may include items that reinforce the lifestyle that is purchased along with the property (boating accessories, firepits, cozy seating areas that maximize views, etc.).

High quality professional flyers should be available INSIDE the house, for prospective buyers to take with them. They should tell a story about the lifestyle of the house, answering many of the questions identified above. There is more room for longer messages on a flyer. And prospects who take flyers have a reminder of this particular house that they may review later.

Our flyers also contain lifestyle descriptions, photographs, and marketing information that form the structure for our online advertising. Again, we generally have more description space, and more creative opportunities to tell stories online. We should tell a story, or many stories, about our property. Our online presence can automatically be syndicated to several dozen online sources. And our online presence needs to be focused on LIFESTYLE.

Flyers or postcards can be mailed to the immediate neighbors, designed to hit their mailboxes at about the same time that the listing comes onto the NWMLS, to generate maximum interest in the first few weeks of listing. These will also be sent to all brokerage offices in the immediate area.

Many Sellers believe that Open Houses for Brokers and prospective buyers will sell their house more quickly, but statistics do not support this. Open Houses are a great way for brokers to find buyer clients, but rarely do they sell a house.

In the case of the 4400sf house that I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I would NOT do an Open House.

Why not? Because an Open House, where many people converge on a property within a short time period, will only emphasize some of the deficiencies of this house: Not enough level parking, impossibly steep driveway, narrow dead end street with limited parking and difficulty turning around. So I would skip the Open House. It is unnecessary, and likely detrimental to a sale.

Of course, there will be signage in the most visible location(s) on the property, which lists multiple ways to contact the listing broker. This includes a number to an automated hotline for more information. If there is any flyer whatsoever, it is permanently affixed to the sign, to minimize indiscriminate curiosity and litter.

Does the listing broker have to be a specialist within the neighborhood, within this price range, or within the property type in order to sell this house? Not in today's world with internet sources being the top search method by prospective buyers, and not if the broker has done a thoughtful job with her marketing.

Monday's blog will identify another big marketing tool for a property like this, that most traditional real estate agents miss. Stay tuned!

All this marketing is designed to hit the market as soon as the listing goes live on the NWMLS. With this much effort and thought put into marketing in advance, the property ought to sell for maximum market value quickly. And that's how you sell a multi-million dollar waterfront house!

Happy Investing!

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