January 2011 has been the snowiest month for New Jersey in 62 years! That is no secret. Dogs, kids and even adults are disappearing into the piles of snow that have no where else to go.
“Wednesday’s snow put New Jerseyans over the state average for the winter, which stands at a little over 24 inches.” according to the state’s climatoligist.
More snow is expected and this is only the beginning of winter. So how exactly are Realtors, home sellers and buyers supposed to conduct business as usual when the blizzards interrupt the house-hunting process? Many people change jobs, have babies, get married or end their leases in the winter or spring and this is the time they need to find a new home. They can’t wait for the snow to melt.
First comes the snow plow, the shoveling, the salt, the towels, the extra doormats, but where are you supposed to park your car? Most of the local streets have been reduced to single lanes and it is difficult to park, let alone get to the front door!
Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, NJ had an idea last week. When our new listing in Short Hills came on the market for $1,150,000, at 76 South Terrace , and the Thursday Broker Open House had to be cancelled (during the blizzard) , we had to change gears.
We tried something new; a different day with lots of provisions. Instead of the usual Thursday from 10 to 1 pm, we sent email blasts to the local agents and home buyer email database, that we were rescheduling for Friday. We hired a traffic cop, a valet parking attendant and told the agents we would find them a place to park, and help them see this house. It so happens, that there is a large pool of buyers for this price range and many agents were worried we might postpone the listing or cancel viewings. We were not about to let a few feet of snow stop us.
With that in mind, we made phone calls, sent emails and posted to thousands of fans and followers, all over facebook, LinkedIn and twitter, as well as our website, that we were open and happy to show the house. We provided booties, a place for people to take boots on and off and we were in the street directing traffic in and out of the very tightly shoveled driveway, that resembled a tunnel!
Some of the ways to entice agents to see a property is serve food or have a drawing for a gift card to a local restaurant. All they need to do is drop their business card into a bowl and we have a drawing and announce a winner who gets a free diner for two. We know that many will decide it is too difficult to navigate the roads and walkways, so we give them a better reason to make the effort.
Another appealing detail is to have photos of the yard and grounds during the warmer months displayed around the house so people can envision all the green and color of the spring and summer. If we don’t have any images of our own, we ask our sellers to go through their pictures and we enlarge those photos and place them right on the windows with the best views of the yard. It is not easy to visualize a yard or a patio when all you see is WHITE ! No photos of the back yard? We asked our seller to shovel the patio so atleast people could imagine a barbecue!
We also call the newspapers and see if we can get anyone to cover the story so the public knows that we are still going to keep working, even when it would be easier to just wait for the big melt. On Friday, New York Times writer Antoinette Martin, who covers the NJ Real Estate Market, came with her photographer Tom White, to see what we were doing. The story made the paper on February 5th. New York Times Story.
We are actually telling sellers, with complete conviction, that if they list now, they know that anyone who comes for a look is a serious buyer and they won’t get all the nosey neighbors that like to poke around in the spring. We are ready to do whatever it takes to get people into the house and to overcome the winter weather and we already have an offer on the house!