REALTORS® in Costume: What Would You Dress Up As for a Listing?
October 31, 2018
Unicorns, T. rexes, the Incredible Hulk, and more—real estate professionals across the country are donning costumes for some unique photo shoots of homes they’re trying to sell. And those who have tried the marketing gimmick say they’ve attracted so much buzz by their property photos that the homes have gotten more buyer traffic, quickly putting the homes under contract.
In 2016, real estate pro Jessica Arnett first captured headlines for dressing up in a panda costume to market a home in Spring, Texas. Arnett found the idea from a homeowner in England who had dressed in a panda costume and ignited a buyer storm for his remodeled home. In both situations, the giant panda suits in the property photos had worked to get the house the attention it needed to sell quickly.
Trying to duplicate those efforts, other real estate professionals are dressing in costume to appear—subtly or prominently—in listing photos online to generate some buzz for their properties.
Most recently, a giant inflatable T. rex costumed donned by real estate pro Casey Lewis went viral in property photos of a home in Granbury, Texas. Lewis photographed and videotaped the Tyrannosaurus rex around the home, mowing the lawn, relaxing in a rocking chair, looking in the kitchen’s refrigerator, taking a shower, fishing on the lake, and more. Lewis had over 45 showings and was under contract within two days of the photos’ appearance.
Other real estate pros have given it a try. A listing in Glendale, Ariz., features “Mr. Green” (a.k.a. the Incredible Hulk) modeling off the home’s green features. “Rumor has it that the home has so many green features that from time to time Mr. Green himself will roam the property in all of its glory,” reads the listing for the $479,900 home. Mr. Green also showcases the home’s other features in the photos, modeling them off by “dabbing” in front of the home’s pool and assuming the “thinking pose” on an expansive window seat in the living room.
Berkshire Hathaway real estate pros Christina Dudley and Michael Frank used unicorns and Spider-Man to bring about speedier sales in Baltimore. Following the success of these, they are already planning to stage more such photo shoots in the future.
A rowhome in Baltimore had been listed 116 days prior by another real estate pro with no takers. So when Dudley and Frank got the listing, they decided to use Spider-Man in a photo shoot showing off the home to draw more attention online. The home was under contract within 13 days. Spider-Man was perched on railings and window sills and even did a headstand in the photos of the home. They also used an inflatable unicorn costume in property photos of another rowhome they were trying to sell to produce the same result.
Dudley and Frank says it takes the right type of seller and market to pull off the photo stunt. The gesture is done with humor and to try to raise more attention for a property than typical property pictures. For the Spider-Man house, Frank says the marketing photos got an otherwise passive seller more engaged in the process, talking about and sharing the humorous photos with friends and acquaintances.
“The photos aren’t going to sell the house,” Frank acknowledges. “But the photos can be a cherry on top” of the many other things you do to raise attention of the listing and get more buyer traffic.
The photos got plenty of people sharing them online. Within three posts on Facebook with the Spider-Man photos, the brokerage generated 14,500 views of the photos. Usually, on a good post, they’ll generate about 300.
Dudley and Frank say clients are already sharing with them plenty of ideas of what they want to do when they go to sell their house. “This isn’t going to work for every buyer or every house,” Frank says. “But this is something that has been fun and gotten a lot more people engaged in choosing the next thing to sell their home. It’s opened the door to more” nontraditional ideas to get a house sold.
So, what’s next? The team isn’t committed to one costume just yet, saying it depends on the home seller and the house. But they’re hoping for a photo shoot one day featuring the Baltimore Orioles’ bird mascot.
Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Updated: May 22, 2020