A multimillion-dollar Beverly Hills, Calif., home had been on the market since February. Another brokerage had held the listing for about seven months without any luck. So when the seller interviewed Malibu Prudential Realty agent Michael Gardner and asked him what he would do differently, he decided to go big or go home.
"(I thought), ‘What can I do that’s over the top — that will make the agents show up?’ We’re busy promoting the house on the Internet to the world, but we’re also promoting it to the local agents. I … wanted agents to talk about it to to each other: ‘Can you believe they’re doing this?’ or ‘Let’s go win it,’ " Gardner said.
"I also want local home sellers to think, ‘My agent didn’t do anything like that.’ "
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Gardner and his co-listing agent, Nikki Hochstein, will host an open house that will raffle off $300 worth of Botox treatments, offer test drives of the 2012 Audi A8, provide Thai foot massages and facials, and have a dim sum food truck on hand.
"Agents may come for the swag, but they’ll remember the house, too, especially if they came to ours and missed a different one. Guys may want to see the cars and the ladies may want the foot massage and facials. They may not admit it, but both sexes will want to win that Botox!" Garnder wrote on his blog earlier this week.
The open house for the $8.495 million home is intended for area agents and brokers, who are invited to bring their clients along. Agents in the area go "on caravan" once a week, planning to see between 20 and 40 homes in a four-hour period, Gardner said.
With that many houses to see, the least enticing ones can in some cases be skipped or given only a cursory look, he noted.
Source: Michael Gardner
"If there’s no food, (agents will) be in and out of most houses in 10 minutes. If there’s food or something interesting, they might stay for 20 to 30 minutes. I’m hoping with this one they’ll stay maybe up to an hour," Gardner said.
"It’s definitely to make them want to come to mine first. And if they stick around, it gives me an opportunity to promote the house," he added.
Gardner got the idea for the open house from "gifting suites" held before big Hollywood events such as the Emmys and Oscars. Celebrities are invited to visit these special suites to receive bags of free products companies hope they will wear and use to promote the products.
"We want to create a buzz," Gardner said.
This is the first time he’s done anything other than a traditional open house, where agents often offer little more than snacks, he said.
"I’ve never heard of anyone doing Botox (as an open-house prize). I’ve heard of lottery tickets and iPad giveaways, but nothing like this," Gardner said.
What does the seller think of Gardner’s idea?
"I think its amazing. I’ve never seen an open house like this. I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be really helpful selling my house," said seller Judy Konstant. She’s planning to attend the open house.
Konstant is expecting "a big crowd," given how many people she’s heard are coming already, she said.
"Hopefully (this will work) to get the one buyer who we need," she said.
Not surprisingly, homes priced at over $1 million often take longer to sell than homes in any other price range.
In September, there was a 10-month supply of for-sale homes in the above-$1 million price range in California, a decline from 11.1 months’ supply in September 2010, according to the California Association of Realtors. That’s considerably higher than California’s supply of for-sale homes in lower price ranges, which all were in the neighborhood of six months’ supply or less in September.
"I think right now the market is so different … you have to think of new, innovative ways" to attract people to a property, Konstant said.
Source: Michael Gardner
The house is approximately 8,000 square feet on more than an acre of land in a gated community with what she called "an immense yard and one of the largest pools I’ve ever seen."
"The house is gorgeous and extremely well-maintained and extremely conducive to entertaining as well as having a family," she said.
"We’re up in the mountains. It’s kind of like being out in the country, but we’re seven minutes from Beverly Hills, so it’s like the best of both worlds."
As for Gardner, he’s already thinking of what he might do for the next listing open house that comes along. A wine-tasting bar, perhaps, or young women rolling cigars.
"What would be fun for everybody? What would get people talking?" he said.