When I started out in real estate, I was lucky enough to have a friend ask me to list her condo. This listing happened to be my first. And she knew that, but she was willing to take a chance on me.
However, the catch was that she also wanted about 20 percent more than any other comparable unit in her building had ever sold for.
I reviewed the comps, talked to other listing agents who farmed the building and against everyone’s advice, decided to go for it. I agreed to represent a listing that was, in hindsight, a reach for the market.
Nearly $400 per square foot is not very common in Atlanta and definitely not for a one-bedroom condo in that building. But I was bound to make it work.
I put pen to paper and decided to come up with a lifestyle promo video (on a shoestring budget). My goal was to do something different by telling a story and, further, to highlight the benefits of the location to offset the fact that the unit was less than 800 square feet.
My co-listing agent ended up doubling as the video’s model, and I scoured local colleges to find an inexpensive, yet an incredibly talented videographer.
After many hours and only a couple hundred dollars, we ended up creating an amazing, cinematic video that captured all of the lifestyle elements this unit had to offer.
I posted the video and went to bed without thinking about what was soon to come.
The next afternoon, I got a news alert saying my name was featured in Curbed. At this point I had been a licensed agent for maybe 45 days. I was a bit dumbfounded because the only thing that was curbed was my savings account, as PR was so not in the budget.
“Duo’s flashy listing video could be the most Buckhead millennial thing of all time” read the headline, accompanied by a still shot of me spraying champagne off of the balcony from the end of my video, a far cry from professional.
Unsure how to feel about the subtle yet undeniably negative article, I scrolled to the comments. I’m not sure if I was seeking approval from them or just curious to hear what people thought.
Within seconds, I went from painting this naive fantasy of people begging me to list their house to being shocked at some of the comments and questioning if I had just prematurely ruined my career.
There was this.
Definitely not a compliment.
Being a part of Gen Z myself, I was kind of surprised how these comments were getting to me. Our generation is often referred to as the “Digital Natives.”
We grew up with social media, and we have accepted trolls and online haters as something as insignificant as being bitten by a mosquito. It’s just a part of life.
I was starting to feel a little bit defeated reading these. And while I’ve received my share of comments exponentially worse than this — to which I’ve always given no thought — this was different. I really messed up.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, I kept hearing the voice of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles Josh Flagg.
But in all seriousness. I kept hearing this one thing I had remember Flagg saying on an episode of MDLA: “I don’t just sell houses. I sell a lifestyle.”
I was in middle school when that episode aired. I remember having this epiphany kind of like, “Oh, so that’s the secret!” And so it stuck. This trademark line has become the absolute bedrock of my strategy.
Reading these comments brought me doubt and anxiety. This was my very first transaction of my career. I was starting to fear this might have been a little too much, too soon.
The unit ended up selling in only nine days. It was the most expensive one-bedroom ever sold in the building. Although it certainly might not have been a multimillion dollar (or even just a $1 million deal), having my first sale end up a standing record quashed any doubts I had.
It also helped showcase my marketing, which lead to millions in additional business. To be more precise, about $5 million in new listings and buyers within my first 10(ish) months in real estate.
But more than anything, it allowed me to realize that there is an art to creating an effective audience when using video. You must know your buyers and what they value in a home.
Take those elements, and create a few scenarios that your buyers would find aspirational. Now, make that intoxicating. For example, in my video, it was the ability to shop all day then come home and spray champagne off of the balcony. To some, that’s a fantasy, and to others hell.
The final step is to fuel the audience. Trigger emotions to get people talking and engaged. In mine, I subconsciously triggered disgust in some viewers. Others loved it.
But those who were revolted weren’t likely to be the buyer anyway. It’s not conducive to their lifestyles, and that’s fine. If your goal is to get eyeballs, you must be polarizing.