Marketing Unique Properties Expert Tips
Brenda Thompson owns the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…” in the mountains of western North Carolina. Just like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind, with a specialty focus on unique properties with a lot of character. In this interview with Bill Kopatich, Brenda discusses her unique marketing approach to marketing unique properties.
Bill: Brenda, thanks for sharing your story here today. You have created a true specialty in the real estate industry – marketing unique properties that you call Special “Finds…”. What qualifies as a Special “Find…”?
Brenda: A Special “Find…” doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to have its own unique character. We’ve listed everything underground homes to converted barns, even a French Chateau.
Bill: I know you are in the Asheville, NC area in the North Carolina Mountains. How wide a geographic area do you cover?
Brenda: Right now we’re covering an area within about two hours from Asheville. As long as I feel we can serve our client well, I will take the listing. I’m in the process right now of listing a property that’s two hours away. It’s a Tiny House. I’ve named it “Duality – A Luxury Camping Cottage”. It has every luxury amenity you can imagine; it’s plumbed and wired internally, but utilities have yet to be connected.
Bill: What led you to focus entirely on marketing unique properties?
Brenda: First of all, every house I’d ever owned, I purchased because of its uniqueness; second, as former director of marketing for the New York Stock Exchange, I wanted to use my marketing expertise to market something interesting. I started out affiliating with the large franchised real estate companies. In those traditional firms, large or small, everyone competes for the same piece of the pie — predominately cookie cutter houses. Since it was often difficult to differentiate one house from another, I couldn’t get excited about marketing them. I could, however, get very excited about houses that had tons of character. I could sell those houses all day; it was fun for me, and I had the marketing expertise to make those properties shine.
At the same time, I had a crazy, driving desire to use my poetic voice, so I combined my poetry, my marketing expertise, and love for unusual properties, and created my company, Special “Finds…”… Properties of Unique Character for Those Choosing Something Out of the Ordinary.
Bill: Are there some common questions that sellers have when they want to sell their unusual property?
Brenda: They want to know what I do that’s different than every other agent and my answer is everything. I focus on bringing “life” to the property. I describe it in such as way that a buyer can “mentally” feel what it’s like to live in the house, to be on the property. I bring as many of the senses as I can into my ads – what you see – floors the color of honey; what you hear – a train whistle in the distance; what you smell – fresh mown grass; what you feel – cool slate floors. I use emotional advertising to mentally transport buyers to the property from wherever they are as they read my ad. I want to give a buyer the feeling of what it’s like when you become part of the house – it then becomes a home.
Bill: Does it take longer to sell these special and unique properties that you list?
Brenda: Marketed properly it shouldn’t take any longer to sell unusual properties than other properties. Special “Finds…” often sell faster than more typical properties, because the audience is so well defined. From our company name, buyers know that we only carry Special “Finds…”. They, in turn, are searching for their own Special “Find…”. We put the two together and the marriage works!
Buyers come to me to find something with distinct character. Someone may call and say that they must have a historic home, and it’s got to be so many years old, and it has to look like their grandmother’s house. So they will describe this historic home, and nine times out of ten, if I ask, “If I can find you an ultra-modern house, or a log house, on top of a mountain with spectacular views, would you consider that?” They will say, “Absolutely, they would love a property like that”! Ultimately, a buyer is looking for a property, with characteristics that resonate with some part of their personality… a part that makes them feel good.
Bill: I would imagine with the way you are describing these properties, these are mostly luxury properties.
Brenda: No, price doesn’t matter. Each property just needs to have its own distinct character. We tend to attract both more high-end listings and buyers, but I get just as excited about marketing tiny cottages, as I do marketing grand estates.
Bill: Brenda, to wrap this up, what are the most important things that a seller of a unique property needs to do to be successful selling in a reasonable amount of time and for the best price?
Brenda: First, recognize the value in having something unique to sell – something that no one else has! Take the steps necessary to feature those unique characteristics. Don’t waste time and money marketing unique properties to non-unique property buyers. Have the property in great condition, and take care of it. Be willing to show it at any moment. Price it as well as you can. Be prepared to move when you get a buyer, because when a unique buyer comes along, there may not be ten of them looking for your house; there may only be one.