Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Some comments on Real Estate Agents

First off, we want to say that we appreciate realtors very much for the upstream job they do in selling our plans.  Granted, they don't sell our plans directly, but they do sell the building that the contractor created from our plans.  But there are some things that we'll never understand.  Most likely this can just be chalked up to personality types, life direction, etc.  Sort of like we will never understand the Chinese culture.  If you are a realtor, we invite you to respond with intelligent answers in an attempt for open communication.

1. Why does all of your marketing material have your face on it?  Why do we care what you look like?  Some of you are not very attractive, even with glamor shots and PhotoshopTM.  Maybe you say it's because your face is your image and it's how people remember you.  We think you guys all look the same.  Same with insurance agents and lawyers.  But the contractors who build our plans don't advertise with their face.  As building designers, we don't advertise our face (we know better!).  Plumbers don't, electricians don't, and the guy who lays the carpet doesn't.  So why do you?  Is this the way it's always been done?  We'll bet if you used something other than your face, you might get noticed as being unique.  Just a thought.  Maybe an icon of a house with some zoom lines around it that says "I make quick sales".  That's what we really want anyway, not your face on a lawn sign.

2. I understand that not anyone can get a realtors license.  You've got to have patience, a study guide, and $500 to take the test.  So why on the test do they not mention anything about house styles?  I swear, every other house listed in our local paper is a 'bungalow'.  I know for a fact that there are not that many bungalows in the state.  Is a bungalow sexy or something?  Or is it just a cop-out because other housing styles aren't known?  We've seen tudor, craftsman, prairie, ranch and victorian all listed as bungalow.  Another one that crops up is 'old Portland style'.  What!?  Which style?  This one really is a cop-out.  It's used a lot on prairie cubes and bungalows where the word bungalow has been already overused.  If I may suggest, could you research housing styles and figure out more than five?

3. Why did we receive junk mail and solicitations AFTER we bought our current abode?  Did you think that we would be so impressed by a circular with your face on it that we would immediately want to buy another home?  Like we could afford that?  Instead, the timing of your mailer was so backwards that we looked at it, made fun of the timing, and then recycled it without another thought.  No, I don't know who it was, you all look the same.  It would be understandable if Istockhouseplans chose to leave catalogs on construction sites.  Builders tend to build more than 1 house every 3-5 years.

4. Maybe the general public can't tell, but some of your fliers for houses are less than spectacular.  The fliers themselves sometimes use gaudy colors or err on the other side of no bling at all.  AT ALL.  We do want to see more than a list of 'amenities' in 10 pt font and 4 1"x1" photos of the house.  But we don't want to see what looks like a beginner's guide to every option in Print ShopTM.  A simple left margin graphic, 3 colors, and appropriate font size are a good place to start.  And make the price tag big enough that it can be seen through the 'take one' flier box, in the rain, from the car, at the curb.  We are not pleased with having to open the door in a downpour to grab a flier (or 110 degree temps for those in SoCal).  The mere act of touching a flier will not increase the chances of buying a house.  Folks who are driving through a neighborhood they haven't been through before do not want to write down an address to look up when they get home.  They'll forget.  Or they will merely go the next house with a post and shingle and look at the flier through the glass.  If they feel they can afford it, they'll risk the elements to grab a flier.

5. Photographs.  This should be 'nuff said.  First, include them.  When a flier says 'Too new for photos', this is immediately understood as laziness.  "But I just have to get signs and an RMLS listing up today!"  Good, go get some photos first.  Years ago we saw a website of a realtor who was making fun of other realtors for their photos.  If you can be seen in the bathroom mirror as you run by to take a photo, it's worth a retake.  If the neighbor's trashy car is visible through living room windows, it's worth a retake.  Second, please stage your photos.  This does not need to be spendy.  Clutter in the house MUST GO.  Make your client clean up, get a storage space, or explain to them their house will take 6 months to sell.  Being able to spot a box of 'toys' in a master bedroom photo will make us ask for new carpet.  Just in case.  No, steam cleaning won't be enough, thank you.  And lighting is a must.  Invest in some shop lights on a stand and use them for INDIRECT lighting.  Perhaps you could consider a fish eye lens.  Nothing dramatic, but have you ever tried to photograph a small bedroom or bathroom?  It's almost impossible to see the whole thing.  A subtle fish-eye style lens with 120+ degree views could help.  A lot.

Now we understand that home designers giving sales advice to realtors is similar to realtors telling us how to design houses.  So be it.  Consider this to be some helpful advice and tips from our years of experience in the housing industry.  Feel free to leave comments.  If you'd like to discuss more, email us.  Without your face.