San Francisco has always been a favorite place of mine to visit. I even lived there during a brief time in 1999 when the vacancy rate was less than half a percent!
One thing that always struck me about San Francisco was the homeless. Not simply the sheer volume of homeless but the lengths at which they’d go to siphon a dollar out of you. It wasn’t enough to have a gimmick, but your gimmick had to be different or more creative than those of any other panhandlers in the downtown area.
There were singers, poets, rappers, jugglers, one-man marching bands, balancing and other forms of sidewalk gymnastics as well as some of the most creative signage anywhere (maybe the dot-comers could have hired these guys as marketing executives).
This story from the Seattle PI illustrates to what length some local realtors have gone to attract new clients.
Puck is upfront about his job.
“Let’s face it, I’m a marketing ploy,” the 5-year-old English bulldog writes on his page of Realtor Phoenix Rudner’s Web site, seattlehousehound.com.
The Seattle-King County Association of Realtors has about 8,800 active members — up more than 80 percent from 1999. The state Department of Licensing reports there are 13,747 licensed real estate salespeople in King County.
Many agents carve out a niche by focusing on a location, home type or a group of buyers and sellers. Others wear costumes, serve pie or distribute handy gifts.
“There are so many dog owners who need someone who understands their needs,” he explained.
What the dog is really saying: “Ruff!” (What the next five to ten years of homeownership may be like as equity fades and people struggle to make their ballooning toxic loan mortgage payments)
RE/Max Northwest Realtor Ross Adams aims for a more exclusive group of buyers on his Web site, realestateforcops.com, which touts itself as the No. 1 Web site for law enforcement-friendly real estate services.
There’s a picture of Adams, a reserve police officer, in his blue uniform, wearing his badge.
“In my years working as an officer, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the men and women of law enforcement,” the site says. “In addition to the great experiences I’ve shared, I’ve also grown to understand and appreciate the needs of the people in this profession.”
Is it even possible for someone in law enforcement (or nearly everyone else for that matter) to purchase a home these days in this environment? How many police cars do you see parked outside Ballard 3/2’s these days?
Realtor Melanie Meyer of Century 21 North Homes Realty puts a different slant on the cop angle at her site: specialagentrealtor.com.
Meyer, a former sheriff’s deputy in Charleston County, S.C., also has pictures of herself in uniform. But rather than aim for any particular group of clients, she proclaims on her site that she’s “solving the real estate mystery” for the general public.
Meyer gave up her law-enforcement career and moved to Seattle in 2003 to marry a man she met playing “Dark Age of Camelot” online. She started working in real estate two years ago.
Meyer’s business card shows her wearing a fedora and trench coat and carrying a magnifying glass.
Her Web site also notes that she has a pit bull named Megan and is a freelance writer for “Today’s Astrologer” magazine.
I see a trend developing here. I wonder if King County is struggling to keep deputies that have been lured away by the “lucrative” Seattle real estate market.
Meyer claims to be Seattle’s “first and only Special Agent Realtor.” It seems she didn’t have the scoop on Serena Heslop.
Photos illustrating various sections of her Web site show her in a trench coat, fedora and dark sunglasses; a safari hat (holding binoculars); a hard hat, fake mustache and overalls; and a wetsuit.
Heslop said she’s been a “Special Agent Realtor” for four or five years but just got her Web site up a few months ago. It’s a way to liven up the dry, boring world of real estate advertising and give prospective clients an idea of who they’d be dealing with, she said.
News of a competing special agent Realtor didn’t seem to rattle Heslop or Meyer.
“I’m sure I’ll run into her someday,” Meyer said. “I hope she’s as silly as I am.”
“I’m gonna scratch her eyes out,” Heslop joked.
One thing is for sure – in the coming months and years it’s going to take a real sleuth to find more Greater Fools willing to buy at these prices. Maybe these three are on to something.
When Mary Schile switched to real estate two years ago, the former House of Blues contracts negotiator called herself the “Rock-and-Roll Realtor.”
Schile, of RE/MAX Mutual Realty, now claims the title of “Pie and Coffee Realtor,” as illustrated by the apple and cherry pies she served at a Phinney Ridge open house Sunday, and the espresso cart.
“I love pie,” she said
Does it work?
Dominic Canterbury, owner of the Seattle marketing and public relations firm D/C Strategic, said niche real estate marketing can work, if done right.
“Most agents are awful with their marketing,” he said. “That’s why they’ve sort of become the used car salesmen of our time.”
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle PI, 12-26-2006)