Now You’re Just Bragging


A reader writes in:

“Shaw’s Most Expensive Condos!!! [$1,360,000]: Thanks for sharing your marketing plan?

My husband is downstairs hosing out our mailbox after we found this mixed in with today’s mail. Someone who probably makes a lot of money thought this postcard marketing campaign targeted to renters in Shaw would be a good idea.”

shaw postcard

48 Comment

  • accendo

    And I believe the linked one was the cheapest of the 4.

  • “We’re pricing everyone out of the market!”

    • Accountering

      I don’t hate it as a marketing tactic. Presumably anyone looking to sell their house is looking for top dollar.

  • A little off topic, but I can never understand why these real estate agents blanket certain areas (in my case Brookland) with big glossy postcards asking to sell our home to them. Well, I don’t own my apartment and neither do any of the other renters in the building you paid to send junk mail to. I would think they could determine which address’ were multi-unit buildings and not waste the resources but for whatever reason they don’t.

    • If they’re using Every Door Direct from the US Post office to send, they can only specify sending to addresses by “residential only” or “residential AND commercial,” but not rentals vs. condo/single family, etc. The postage for Every Door Direct is MUCH cheaper than the bulk rate, but you have to send the cards to EVERY address in the specified delivery route. On the other hand, marketers sending postcards using the bulk rate can target towards homeowners, demographics, etc., but it can be pricier.

      A bit of inside baseball, but you asked!

    • My favorite is when everyone in our large apartment building gets glossy flyers for installing solar panels…and all of them end up in the trash can next to the mailboxes.

    • Obviously the cost required to directly mail owners exceeds the cost of blanketing the entire neighborhood.

      Targeting owners requires lots research to see who is getting the homestead deduction, not to mention there are likely more than a few owners not aware of the homestead deduction that aren’t claiming it (especially older residents that have a lot of equity exceeding the purchase price in their homes and could benefit immensely from selling).

    • ugh we used to get them from Lindsay Reischman EVERY week when I lived on 13th St. It was so irritating. I would never use that office based on the junk mail they distribute.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        Maybe not, but you know her name…and that is the point.

        • Lindsay Reishman is actually a guy, and he sold his agency to Compass earlier this year, but I agree with your main point. The advertising -does- put the name out there.

          • exactly – it’s a guy, and I wouldn’t use that office. The name is out there, and for us, in a bad way. I called to opt out. Nope.

    • I got one of those glossy cards from TTR/ Sotheby’s headlined “Mont Pleasent – Market Study”

  • These weren’t targeted at renters. These are targeted toward owners, hoping that the excitement of record prices will push them to list their properties for sale (“These guys seem like great salesmen, able to get super high prices! I’ll let them sell my property for a super high price!”).

    I get how this may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but they don’t really care unless you have the assets to sell or the cash to buy.

  • jim_ed

    Eh, they’re cutting with an axe, not a scalpel here. I got one addressed to me at work the other day offering me the “exclusive!” chance to buy a $20 million home in Georgetown, which was bizarre, but it’s just how the industry works.

    • Accountering

      Did you pull the trigger and make the purchase?

      • jim_ed

        Mulling it. The accountant is still running the numbers and seeing how much is left in our discretionary spending accounts in the Caymans. It’s a nice house, but it’d really put a dent in our budget for ivory backscratchers.

  • i like to save all the junk mail and cut out the heads, then send them in the envelopes provided by other junk mail

  • Apparently their “meticulous and strategic” marketing plan didn’t involve anyone proofreading this mailing. I count 5 typos/grammar errors in the three paragraphs.

    • Yep – I’d never hire them to sell my place (and I did sell my place once, so this is for real) based on their stupid typos. If an agent can’t write English correctly, or bother to proofread their marketing materials that represent them to the world, how could I possibly expect them to pay careful attention to the contract for buying and/or selling while working on my behalf? Language errors in contracts have real repercussions for clients!

      • Except nearly all real estate contracts are excruciatingly preformatted/canned. It is literally fill in a few boxes and check a few boxes and sign/initial 800 times.

        It was incredibly difficult for me, as a lawyer, to not want to draw through entire swaths of my contract and rewrite everything. But most of these have been thoroughly vetted and there is very little room for error. Now, asking a realtor to put something into a contingency or inspection report or something that they fail to do can have real consequences, but you are also supposed to be reading those as well before signing.

        The worst part of all of that is that realtors take a 3% slice off the price for doing what amounts to very little paperwork b/c it is all so preprogrammed. In a city like DC, it’s kind of ridiculous. Not counting the minimal amount of work the settlement companies do. Honestly the hardest working person in my entire transaction was my mortgage lender because I put him through the ringer trying to get the right mortgage. It’s really a huge racket.

        • I agree with nearly all of this, but would only add one addendum. It’s actually more of an addendum to the comment below, “It was the only way I could stomach knowing someone was getting 3% of the purchase price for doing about 15 hours of work in a market like DC.”
          Some realtors actually have to do a lot more work than this for certain sales and I’m a case in point. When we bought our house, we used far more than 15 hours of our realtor’s time because 1) we were first-time buyers who needed a decent amount of hand holding and 2) when it came to finding a house, we had to kiss a bunch of frogs before we found our prince. I also felt we got our money’s worth with our agent because she really gave us solid advice that I still respect and trust a year later, and will take into future RE transactions. You can’t say that about every agent out there.

          • Agree with Shawess. Just like everything in life there are good and bad realtors. Some deserve the 3% and then some. I feel like my agent was worth every penny and did a lot for us. If you don’t feel that way about your agent, then you probably didn’t have a good one.

          • I should just say that my agent was someone I knew, trusted, and I was a buyer so truthfully wasn’t paying the fee and did not care very much. I will also say he is someone who works incredibly hard, has a fantastic reputation, and that alone went a long way in getting what I wanted and so was worth it to me.

            I was basing my generalization more on other experiences I have heard anecdotally from friends and the recognition that in many ways, things move so fast in DC that for one reason or another, there is simply not enough time to do a lot of work as a realtor on some sales. In my case, I bought the fourth place I looked at (and only the second that my realtor took me to), and everything was signed sealed and delivered pretty quickly. Where I found value was the reputation, which helped me become a more attractive offer to the seller in a multiple offer situation. So in my view, he was absolutely worth it. Then again, I didn’t pay it as a buyer.

            But even bad lazy realtors still get the same 3% as my friend and your realtor. Seems unfair. It seemed even in my case that it was like jumping on a moving roller coaster and happened very quickly and methodically and in some ways did not seem like very much work on the part of either realtor. But I accept the value I got from my friend/agent was not his time. I am just not sure that applies for every realtor.

          • Care to share the name of your agent? We are looking.

    • accendo

      Correct it in red pen, give it a grade, and send it back.

  • justinbc

    “marketing campaign targeted to renters”
    I think you missed the entire point of their flyer. It’s very clearly targeted at sellers (aka home owners), with multiple references to their awesome marketing strategies and pool of buyers.

  • These generic, neighborhood wide mailings don’t really bother me that much — it’s good to know that there are strong comps near our house, even if the properties are different from ours. That said, I did get some very direct mail with both of our full names on it from a realtor who found our information through a neighborhood site. He sent us a handwritten note with a photographed comp sheet. That somehow felt like it crossed a line into stalker territory that this doesn’t. I realize it can be tough to build up a client base and that being a realtor is a very entrepreneurial career choice. But I think it would be better to build that client base through actual personal connections and the word of satisfied clients rather than borderline stalking.

    • Maybe, but I bet that strategy has worked for him/her before. You never know what works for some people. But I agree with you, when it came to using a realtor, I used a friend. It was the only way I could stomach knowing someone was getting 3% of the purchase price for doing about 15 hours of work in a market like DC.

    • I think a lot of people would probably like that 1) he actually handwrote a letter and 2) did that kind of research. I know it creeped you out, but I bet that kind of effort sells houses. Obviously, personal connections work best, but it sounds like you live in a neighborhood where he has a lot of people wanting to buy, and personal connections can’t always get you there.

      • At the risk of being a bit jerky, I have to say that I really doubt this kind of effort sells houses. My actual realtor — the one who helped us buy our house and who will help us sell our house when we move — would be way too busy working on actual deals to spend time with this nonsense.

  • Rob is one of the nicest and hardest working guys I know. He has walked us through buying and selling units twice now (not in Shaw, but nearby) – held our hands through the tears and excitement that comes with the process, and has always had our back. Typos aside (especially since this piece was probably drafted by an intern…), he is an amazing realtor and will literally work tirelessly to do right by his clients.

  • Ahhh realtors. Realtors in hot markets taking credit for quick expensive sales is about as hilarious as me taking credit for the sun rising tomorrow.

    When this happens, the realtor takes full credit. In a down market the realtor blames the city, the economy, the weather, uncooperative clients etc.

    Take a look at their webpage. The love to crow that their innovating marketing and expert knowledge of local markets somehow makes places fly off the market above asking before the open house even happens. Odd that every other property in DC enjoys the same results without your vaunted experience.

    They state on their web page that the two of them alone do about 40 million dollars a year in transactions. At 3%, that is splitting $1.2 million in commissions between the two of them every year.

    To be completely clear, there is currently no skill involved in either buying or selling a house in DC. The market is making the decisions for both and having a realtor who carries zero legal liability for any part of the transaction and who ends up investing 20-30 hours of their time in meetings, phone calls / emails and showings over the period of a couple months, then get 3% of the transaction ($40,000 for this condo) is just plain lunacy. The worlds most renown brain surgeon gets paid less per hour.

    This is why places like Redfin are cleaning up.

    • Red fin is getting my business next time since my preferred realtor is out of the business. They’re getting tons of business in dc because ppl are getting hip to the realtor game.

      • justinbc

        We used them for our last property and the agent was great. I wish I had used them for the property we live in, since the agent we used for that was a friend’s referral who turned out to be absolutely terrible.

    • I used Redfin 5 years ago when I bought my house. I will say they work very well but possibly not in all situations. You have to do a lot of the leg work yourself. Redfin will show you the house, draw up the contract and be there at closing but I don’t know how effective they are in more complicated back and forth situations involving concessions, etc. My transaction was fairly simple and they did great. I can see them not working as well in some of these more insane transactions that happen sometimes.

    • Wow Becca. Seems like you’re an expert in real estate, especially the DC market. Maybe if it’s that easy, you should become one. First of all, a realtor does not get the full 3% (or whatever the commission split might be). Depending on the agreement with their broker (and every realtor must be affiliated with a broker by law in DC), they most likely are not getting the full 3%, part of it goes to the broker. As other folks have said in this thread, there are good realtors and bad ones (just like in every other profession). Realtors may spend 10 hours with a client searching for a home, or 1000 hours. It just depends on what the client is looking for. If you’re a good agent, a ton of skill is needed…for communicating effectively with clients and other agents, time management, marketing, math, real estate law, organization, writing and grammar, negotiation, knowledge of the market and where it’s at and where it’s going, to name a few. I wonder why you think it takes no skill to buy or sell a home?

      And p.s., I’m not a realtor. But I know I will never NOT use one. The services they provide are invaluable to me.

      • JP,

        No need to become one. Sell or buy the house yourself. I’ve purchased 3 properties and sold two without a realtor and I ain’t exactly a rocket scientist.

        On the buy side, you use it as a negotiating tool. You tell the seller you won’t be using a realtor if they split the commission savings with you. You get a lower sales price and they get lower associated fees. You (the buyer) spend about 700-900 on a real estate attorney who puts the contract together with contingencies etc, and is actually legally liable for anything they do wrong in the process, unlike a realtor who carries zero liability after the have you sign a 15 page disclosure saying they aren’t responsible for anything, anywhere, anytime.

        On the sale side, I’ve sold two properties here in DC, listing them myself on MLS for a flat fee. Both were under contract for above asking after multiple offers (one set the new price per sf record in the neighborhood) in less than 2 weeks. You offer the buyers agent a 2% commission, which they scream bloody murder over as if you are stealing the last penny from their childs college fund ( you took your client to 3 open houses pal, and spent about 12 hours with them total, I think ~$1,000 an hour for your time is sufficient.

        As far as knowledge about “math” and “real estate law”, give me a break. You realize the qualifications to become a realtor is a couple hours in a class and a test right? There is a reason that every stay at home mom and bar tender looking for some supplemental income become realtors during boom periods. Because the barrier to entry is non-existant.

        Lastly, I know of two folks who have become realtors in the past 18 months here in the area, one with Century 21 and the other with Fairfax Realty. Their split from the first house they sold was 2/1. They kept 2%, the house kept 1%. The more volume you do, the more you keep.

        But frankly, I don’t care who keeps what in that transaction. Thats like the grocery store complaining that they only get to keep $1 dollar from the $3 dollar carton of milk. As a consumer, I could care less. All I know is I am paying $3 for milk. As a consumer, I only care what I am paying for a service. How all the people involved on your side split their money is their problem. All I know is I am paying 3% and that your jobs takes a handful of hours to perform (because I’ve done it myself). The median price for a home in Shaw as of May 2015 is 612K so I am paying $18,000 dollars for a service that I’ve done successfully multiple times myself in a handful of hours.

        • You’re my new hero. My co-worker’s husband has done the same exact thing as you (has his lawyer draw up all the paperwork and contingencies) for the last 3 houses he bought/sold. Doesn’t sound any more painful than dealing with a real estate agent.
          PS – I give your rants 8.5 out of 10. Bravo!

    • Is Redfin really “cleaning up.” According to this article, they weren’t even turning a profit in 2013. And represented a very small percentage of homebuyers. But maybe they’ve really turned it on in the last two years. In any event, the article gives some interesting insight into why the vast majority of home sales and purchases still involve agents.

      • Yes, in DC they are going gang busters.

        As seller, you save 1.5% on the transaction, and as a buyer, they credit you back 2 of the 3% the seller paid for their services.

        • We looked at redfin before choosing our coldwell banker agent. They showed us stats that redfin has only sold five homes in DC over a million. Redfin has very little market share and I would be cautious before choosing them. They are great at 300k and less but so is craigslist. Yes, it’s great to save 1.5% on the commission but you also lose 10-15% of the value because the agent can’t market the property properly or negotiate a solid deal on your behalf. Great choice. It’s like buying designer clothes from walmart or looking for a fine dining experience at the local McDonalds. You get what you pay for.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I don’t understand the rationale by which “they’re great at $300K and less.” While 10-15% is fewer dollars on a $275,000 property than on a $1,275,000K property, those dollars probably matter more to all parties involved on the smaller transaction than on the larger one.

          • Wut? lol

          • Accountering

            I am unclear how in a market like DC a house would sell for 10%-15% less. As far as marketing? You list on the MLS, and offers come in within a week… Give me a break. You list it for $300,000, and get an offer for $300,000 with just an inspection contingency, that you then accept. Pretty straightforward.

    • Becca,

      I am glad you have been able to successfully buy and sell properties without the help of a realtor. That’s fantastic.

      That doesn’t mean you should make false blanket statements about the profession. Your statement that realtors carry zero legal liability is patently untrue. A friend of mine is a broker with six agents. All the agents are required to have Errors and Omissions insurance. There are also heavy fines and the possibility of license forfeiture imposed. Just use google and you will find many cases of agents in DC being held legally responsible for their shoddy or unethical work.

      There are also many examples of Redfin properties staying on the market longer and selling for less then properties sold through full service brokerages. Whether the carrying cost and discounted commission make up for that is different in every case.

      At the end of the day everyone gets to decide how they want to market and sell their home but it drives me crazy when people take a few bad actors and allow it to taint their view of the market or a profession.

  • Does anyone know how long it took for these to sell? I went to the launch party around V-day. Seems like it took a long time if they are just now closing. Love the project and think it’s a great addition to Shaw. Could care less about a flash card that will end up in the trash.

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