Just before my first child was born, my husband and I were shopping for a new house. We had just moved to a new town, and knew we needed to look for a home that was going to be suitable for raising a family.
We looked at a lot of houses….. week after week, our agent would set up appointments and we traveled all over town looking for something that ticked all of our boxes.
We had a certain number of bedrooms we wanted.
We had a price range.
We had school districts to consider
We wanted to be close to my husband’s work.
Each of the items on our wish list were easily searchable in the local MLS — and each week, our realtor showed us houses that ticked off all of our required boxes —
One day, after exhausting our search, she says to me, “You know what? We’re just going to drive around and you tell me when you see a house you like.” This was a different approach than running from one showing to the next like we’d been doing.
We got to one particular neighborhood tucked away from the main roads and central shopping areas. When we first pulled into the neighborhood, I was immediately struck by the architecture of the homes. They were so distinct and unique — I instantly said, “Oh wow, I like that house” —
The next thing I know, my realtor pulled into the driveway of this particular house, and put the car in park. She looked at me and said, “Well, let’s go knock on the door and see if they want to sell it” ….
I was taken aback — say what? There’s no sign in the yard. This house wasn't for sale. We can’t go up to their door and ask them to sell their house!!! But she was already half-way down the driveway, marching towards the front door. She was serious about this.
Low and behold, the homeowner opened the door and after a quick introduction by my realtor, I found myself being welcomed inside the home and the homeowner began to show us around. She was giving us a tour of the home. She showed us the kitchen and told us the types of birds that visit in the front window. She walked us downstairs and showed us her daughter’s room, saying, “We brought her home from the hospital here. She’s grown up in this house.” She explained how she used to put baby gates on the stairs to keep her safe.
We walked outside on the beautiful back deck and she described how she sat there in the mornings with her coffee and pointed at exactly where the you could see the sunrise — just in between those 2 trees there, and even though it’s 3 o' clock in the afternoon, I can picture the sun rising in that exact spot she was showing me.
About an hour later, we left and all I could think was, “That’s my house…. I love it!”
I didn’t know the square footage. It was outside the lines on the map where we had been searching. It was further away to my husband’s work. It wasn't in the school district we wanted. I didn’t even know how much the house cost — It wasn’t even for sale!!
Do you want to know something? We bought that house. The homeowners called our realtor a few days later and said they had been planning to sell, the husband was being relocated to a new state for his work, and they were going to list the home right away unless we wanted to make an offer on it first. They told us the list price. It was about $50K more than the top of our budget. We countered, they accepted and we moved in just before our first child was born and we brought him home from the hospital to that very same bedroom where the previous owners daughter had lived.
I love telling this story so much because it goes to show you how storytelling trumps traditional marketing every time. We had looked for months for a home, basing our choices off a computer printout that matched our criteria. What those homes were missing was story.
When we found the home that was filled with story, none of the criteria mattered anymore.
If you are marketing anything — products, services, houses, cars…. try something different than just the typical plug and play marketing your industry says you need to use.
Try storytelling. What if all real estate agents listed homes with detailed descriptions of what types of meals the family cooked; where they sat to catch the best view of the sunrise; how many kids they raised here; and the little hole in the wall is where they put up baby gates to keep their little ones safe.
Does square footage and location really sell a home?
It didn’t for us. It was the story….