This week one of my agents put a Park Avenue classic six on the market. (For readers who don’t know the New York jargon, a classic six is a two-bedroom apartment with a formal dining room, living room, kitchen and a small bedroom behind the kitchen, which was originally intended for a maid.)
It needs renovation, and it does not face Park Avenue, yet she has multiple offers after only a week — and the property will go into contract during the next two weeks.
How did that happen in this difficult market environment? It was a perfect storm of real estate agent savvy, TLC and good planning that created this outcome. Here are six steps for recreating that storm to get your listing sold faster.
1. Explain how it is
First, the agent met with the estate executors and explained how difficult the sale would be without a complete clean-up. The executors heard her suggestions, and over the ensuing weeks, removed almost everything from the apartment.
2. Bring in the stagers
Second, they agreed to stage. We brought stagers who saw the apartment as a blank canvas. They chose a few statement pieces to anchor their work and brought in neutral furniture and art, which scaled the space for the buyer’s eye without imposing a particular taste.
The entire property was painted and lightly accessorized with the help of the agent, who brought some items from her own collection and strategized with the stagers to create a more welcoming space by adding a few warm touches.
3. Hire a great photographer
Only when everything looked perfect did the photographers come in. The importance of well-planned and well-executed photographs cannot be overestimated. They need to be bright, glare-free and capture the essence of a room or, even better, the relationship between several rooms.
They should feature architectural elements like beautiful molding or a dramatic staircase. They need to capture the essence of the property with five or six shots: enough to entice buyers but not so much as to enable buyers to decide they already know everything about the property and need not see it.
4. Write smart copy
Similarly, the agent wrote concise but not excessive copy (made easier in this case by the fact that the kitchen and baths were unrenovated, so there was no temptation to name the marbles and appliances).
She highlighted a few features intended to draw the buyer in. Ad copy, like photos, should always be created with one goal in mind: to persuade the reader to visit the property.
5. List at the right price
Once the staging process ended, the agent could price precisely for the moment at which the property hit the market. She aimed on the low side, knowing that the apartment needs a full renovation and that the Upper East Side remains saturated with co-op inventory.
She intuited that a fair price, rather than an aspirational one, would attract interest and offers. And it worked.
Every listing demands different choices. And every one requires strategic thinking: Who makes up the target audience? How can the property be displayed to its best advantage for that audience? What steps need to be taken to bring them in?
These days, there’s no magic bullet — but following the above steps and enhancing them with a solid marketing plan makes any new listing more likely to attract a buyer before spending hundreds of days on the market.
A graduate of Yale College with a Masters Degree from CUNY, Frederick Warburg Peters entered the real estate business as a residential agent in 1980. After working as a Sales Director at Albert B. Ashforth for a number of years, he acquired and renamed the 95-year old firm in 1991. Since that time, he has expanded the company from 40 to 130 agents and from one to three locations.