By Connie Adair
How do you make your listing stand out? A list of features alone, no matter how impressive, won’t do the trick. It’s the storytelling that draws potential buyers, especially those in the market for houses $5-million and up, says real estate agent Voula Argyropoulos of Hammond International Properties in Toronto.
“Storytelling is part of the selling process,” says Jerry Hammond, broker of record. “People relate to stories” and they add to the emotional experience of buying a home.
Hammond has made storytelling mandatory practice, which gives a whole new meaning and approach to marketing a property, regardless of price. Although the agents may already know the home’s history, they sit down with the homeowners, who elaborate and have good stories of their own. Those memories are packaged into a story that will create attraction and appeal. They can include distant or more recent “history” and fun tales, to pique a buyer’s interest.
Potential buyers loved the background of a $5-million plus home that the brokerage sold recently. Argyropoulos says relating the story of the owner and the Disney design team that created the home’s resort-like ambiance, was a great talking point. So was the owner’s background as a toy creator and his work with the Muppets. Some of his original puppets, including Kermit and Animal, were conversation starters when potential buyers toured the lower level.
Rock band Rush’s guitarist Alex Lifeson, who built the house, was another topic of conversation. Although the home had been completely renovated (the recording
studio where the band worked is now a gym) the owner has some of Lifeson’s gold records on display so the memories of Rush remain.
It’s a visual world, Hammond says, so adding points of interest is important.
Their storytelling worked – the artistic vibe of the Richmond Hill, Ont. house appealed to an international buyer. The buyer, an artist, liked hearing the story about the past artistic owners, Argyropoulos says. “High net worth people want to know what the current owners do for a living. The buyer fell in love with the home and it had a lot to do with the history.”
When it comes to features, interesting tidbits help. For example, the 10,000-square-foot home’s elm plank floors weren’t just any elm floors. The wood came from two barns dating back to the 1800s. The exterior pebble dash stucco was created by artisans, who were flown in from France. Five furnaces and air conditioning units promise to keep the occupants comfortable.
Story telling can be used for any house, regardless of price. Give potential buyers something to think about, something to remember and something to enjoy.