During my Club Zebra call this week, I had a wonderful question from my client Laurie Way about how to market and sell unique properties. She mentioned that she often has multi-level properties listed, which are abundant in her Seattle real estate market. Her challenge is that open houses are not effective as the open house format accentuates the number of stairs (rather than accentuating the other great features of the property!), due to potential buyers spending much of their time climbing the stairs.
This question took me right back to my days of selling new construction, particularly three and four level townhomes. When you have a property with multi-levels you have to be very careful not to present the home as an adult exercise facility (which is how it can appear when potential buyers are touring the home and have to climb four flights of stairs). It is critical that you slow the buyer down on each level so they can experience what it will feel like to actually live in the house on a daily basis. The challenge with open houses and buyer showings on multi-level properties is that usually the buyers and the agent go through the home quickly because there is nothing to slow them down or no particular feature to pay special attention to.
In new home sales it is a known fact that if you are selling product with stairs the key is to keep the buyer interested enough on each level to spend some time there. Your job is to take the attention away from the stairs by providing some point of interest on each level.
For example, let’s imagine that you are holding an open house on a four level townhome. There is a basement, main level, an upper level with bedrooms and then a roof top deck. Wow that is a lot of stairs! If a buyer were to try to tackle all those stairs on a quick viewing tour, by the time they reached the roof they might be asking themselves why they would want to live in a house with so many stairs as they are gasping for breath. However, if there was a reason to stop on each level to find out more information or to view a particular point of interest then the stairs will not be as noticeable. This is not to say that you are doing this in any way to misrepresent the property because that is not the intention, but you need to present the property as it would be lived in. When people live in their homes they seldom from one level to another, not regularly starting at the lowest level and moving their way up like a person does at an open house.
How do you get buyers at an open house to slow down long enough in each area of your multi-level home so they can focus on the merits of the home and not the stairs? The key is to provide at least one point of interest at every level. For example, while most agents put all their marketing materials on the main level, if you have a home with a lot of stairs you should split up your marketing and move your open house board with market and community information to another level. In that scenario, when the potential buyer enters the home on the first level they are greeted by you and you can slow them down by offering them a nice package for the home, pointing out a feature or two to watch out for, and provide a bit of information about the community. Then as they head up to the next level you can have additional marketing information for them to look up on that level. This will slow them down as will special feature placement cards on each level of the home. If there is a roof top deck or a basement or another space that requires a trip up or down stairs then have something waiting for them. Perhaps that is where you put your snacks and drinks.
The key is to keep the potential buyers in the house long enough to see the features and take attention away from the stairs Remember, most people spend extensive time on each level when they live there and it is imperative that you mimic that when you are marketing a home. Even if you are not holding the home open and relying on another agent to tour the home in a way that is flattering to the amenities and not focused on the multiple levels, make sure to provide marketing and feature cards to slow the buyer down and to bring special features to their attention.
If you would like to listen to the call in-depth, it is available to our Club Zebra PRO members. Click here to listen to the call!