Panda power and more marketing tips

Lee Wilson dressed as a panda to promote his home in Cherry Burton
Lee Wilson dressed as a panda to promote his home in Cherry Burton
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Using panda power to market a property paid off for one estate agent but it’s not for everyone. Sharon Dale reports on other ways to stand out from the crowd.

Persuading a vendor to dress up as a giant panda and pose for photographs and a video tour of their property was an audacious marketing ploy that paid off for estate agent Richard Welpton.

Lee Wilson outside his home

Lee Wilson outside his home

The £425,000 home in Cherry Burton, near Beverley, became a Rightmove sensation and a YouTube star after the Yorkshire Post broke the story last week.

Richard says: “In terms of drawing attention to the house, the Panda has been a success. The click through rate has really increased, which means that we have increased the number of people viewing the property on the website. We have also had a massive amount of interest from the press, potential clients and also other agents. I think it would be more entertaining for all if you saw more ‘off the wall’ photos on the web portals as it would inspire more interest.”

He had spent three years trying to persuade sellers to appear in promotional pictures and films of their properties but they all shied away from the chance to star... until Lee Wilson agreed.

“I’d asked lots of clients but no-one wanted to do it so then I thought it would be fun to have them dressed in disguise. That idea didn’t catch on until Lee agreed to do it. We certainly had a lot of laughs shooting the video,” says Richard.

A panda's work is never done

A panda's work is never done

Lee, who remodelled and extended his five-bedroom home before putting it up for sale, adds: “Richard asked me if I fancied doing something a bit different to market the house. When I asked how different he produced a panda suit. At first I thought he was going to wear it but he persuaded me to do it and we had a fun-filled day doing the film. I’m hoping it makes the property stand out.”

There was also method in Richard’s madcap stunt, which shows the panda, aka Lee, relaxing in the bath, working out in the home gym, eating his breakfast and presenting a “ta dah” pose on the front porch.

It highlights an issue that affects most vendors: that of capturing buyers’ interest online. They flick down the listings on property portals and dismiss homes in the blink of an eye unless they have reached the screen stare stage of their hunt where they are looking but not seeing anything at all.

“I get very bored of seeing the same old pictures and videos online. For me it’s a bit like groundhog day. I was thinking about how to make properties stand out from the crowd when I came up with the idea of having homeowners in the photographs and videos. Having someone sitting at the dining table or watching TV would bring the house to life while introducing the seller to the prospective buyer.”

Lee bearing all in the bath

Lee bearing all in the bath

“There would be some familiarity there when people go round to view,” says Richard.

For those who want to stay out of the spotlight and could never entertain the thought of dressing up as a giant panda, here are some tips on how to market your property effectively:

*Good photographs. Pictures sell properties. The top-end estate agencies employ professional photographers who will show a property at its best. The vendor pays for this service but from £300-plus, depending on the size of the home, it is the best investment you can make. An agent with a point and press camera or an iPhone is no substitute and evidence of this is plentiful on Rightmove. It is not uncommon to see unmade beds, loo rolls piled on top of the toilet cistern and washing up left in the sink. If your agent doesn’t use a professional photographer then consider commissioning your own.

**Words matter. Richard Welton, of Quick and Clarke, says: “There are two schools of thought. One is to write a detailed and factual description of what the property comprises highlighting the positives. The second is to write as little as possible to intrigue the potential buyer into booking a viewing. I use both but lately I have taken the brief approach as I feel the less information you give away the more intrigued the potential buyer is. The hope is that they will call our office and we can get down to the good, old fashioned agency work and sell the property.

*Power of print. Advertising online with property portals such as On the Market and Rightmove is a must but don’t forget newspapers. People stay far longer on the printed page than they do online. Newspapers like the Yorkshire Post, which cover a large geographical area broadens buyers’ horizons.

*Social media. Promote your own home through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

*Offering a car as an enticement is not uncommon, although one property developer in Bristol took it to the limit. He offered to throw in his £100,000 Ferrari with his £1million six-bedroom house. It certainly caught the imagination of the media and the publicity helped raise the profile of his home. Raffles have been tried many times, though often have to be abandoned through a lack of interest. The latest was for an Essex hotel valued at £200,000. There are strict gaming rules so entrants also had to answer a question. In America, a recent TV series trialled “sleep overs” where would-be buyers tested properties by staying overnight.