Real estate agents who have listed unusual, eccentric or just plain bizarre homes shared their tips with Inman for marketing properties with nontraditional features — and sensitive sellers.
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When Kelli Griggs, an agent with Navigate Realty in northern California, first listed 7652 Kona Court in the town of Placerville in February, she knew the house had a unique touch to it. But she never anticipated the level of attention her listing would get.
Dubbed simply “The Room” the 4,400-square-foot house contains a cavernous, all-white room with floor-to-ceiling shelving resembling a commercial warehouse, which the property’s owner, an older woman who passed away, used as storage for her collection of thousands of books, DVD’s, and VHS tapes. The collection filled the shelves to the top and took nine months to remove, Griggs told SFGate.
After the listing was shared on Zillow Gone Wild — the popular social media page that curates zany real estate listings for an audience of nearly 2 million — thousands of social media users fixated on the room, and the listing received coverage in news outlets from as far away as Australia.
Social media users were awed by the sheer size of the storage area.
“‘The Room’ is bigger than my house,” one user wrote on Twitter.
Griggs found herself fielding a barrage of interview requests from reporters seeking to cover the house, and says she ended up getting a bit too cavalier when speaking about the home’s enormous storage component — to the point that her client was offended.
Having been through the viral listing wringer, Griggs now cautions agents tasked with marketing similarly eccentric homes against being too offhanded when describing clients’ properties, especially when elements of it were custom built by the seller, or came from the heart.
Unusual listings have become a popular vehicle for viral content in recent years, with homes such as a duplex in Tahoe filled with elaborately dressed mannequins, an amusingly rounded South Carolina house, and a pyramid-shaped home in North Carolina all attracting attention online.
“Choose every word you say very carefully,” she told Inman in an interview. “It was built for one person, so when you have an anomaly or something unusual or different and someone puts a lot of focus or energy on that, it can be a little bit offensive for the seller.”
While 7652 Kona Court remains on the market after nearly seven months — due in part to it being located in the evacuation zone of the Mosquito Fire — Griggs said she’s glad she spared no expense in marketing right out the gate, including paying for a professional listing photographer and taking the time to write out a detailed and original listing description that mentions “The Room” but does not make it the primary focus.
“Having good media that can go viral that people can use right out of the gate is key,” she said. “If you’ve got an unusual property just spend the money upfront and do your best work.”
Agents like Griggs who have listed unusual homes that went viral shared with Inman their tips for marketing homes with nontraditional features after experiencing firsthand what happens when a unique listing collides with the internet.
A home with a cave
For Lori Largen, an agent with JB Goodwin Realtors in San Antonio, Texas, exploiting a home’s quirk as the primary selling point has been an effective strategy. When Largen was tasked with marketing 24811 Creek Loop in San Antonio — a property on a 2.56-acre lot that happened to come with private access to a subterranean natural bridge cavern — Largen saw an opportunity to attract attention to her listing.
“Do you love Natural Bridge Caverns?” her listing description begins. “If so, take a look at this one-of-a-kind, park-like property. This must-see property boasts a cavern of its own.”
The listing picked up attention on social media and drew national press, with Largen being interviewed by outlets including Newsweek and the New York Post. After being listed for sale in early July for $950,000 the house was sold in mid August for $877,000.
The listing got so much attention that Largen recently found herself talking to a stranger on a train in coastal Ireland who had seen coverage of the house, and brought it up when Largen mentioned she lived in Texas without knowing she was the agent who had listed it.
While Largen put the property’s subterranean feature front and center, she paid equal attention to the property’s other natural features, including its 2.56 acres of land including more than 110 Oak, Magnolia, and Mountain Laurel trees, especially since the house itself was in good condition but in need of updating.
“Compared to some of the houses in the surrounding neighborhood it wasn’t the nicest one,” she said. “But it was the nicest property — and it had its own cave.”
Nowhere to go but up
When extolling the possibilities of a property, however, it’s important to ensure those possibilities are within reach, as Griggs learned when she advertised the car storage possibilities of “The Room” — a use that was not in fact possible she later learned.
“Be careful of selling what could be,” she said.
Though some properties all but require some imagination, such as the completely subterranean home in Deer Creek, Illinois, that Keller Williams agent Angie Powers sold in May that went viral after it too was shared on various social media pages including Zillow Gone Wild.
“I marketed it with a bunch of different ideas on how you could use it,” she said. “It currently was being used as an investment property but you could build on top of it because it was a basement house, so I just threw out a bunch of different ideas people could do to it.”