Publicity can be a double-edged sword. On the plus side, few things will bring as many visitors to your property listing like getting mentioned on a site like Curbed or The Huffington Post. On the other hand, nothing will attract some pretty harsh comments about your home, its price, decor, location, and pretty much everything else about it like getting mentioned on… the internet. At the most recent Real Estate Connect conference I had the pleasure of attending a panel where one of the Curbed co-founders, Alexis Juneja, spoke.Â I asked her what her advice was for sellers who have a home featured on Curbed, and based on her answer and my experience as a Realtor in San Francisco, here are my suggestions about how to respond when your home gets Curbed (or featured on any other online site):
Tip 1: Be Prepared – If you’ve got awful photos with half naked people lounging on crack-den sofas on your home’s listing page, your Realtor deserves to be mocked on the internet – and their listing agreement cancelled. De-clutter your home. Remove highly sentimental objects that might distract a visitor. Use staging to your advantage. Have your home professionally cleaned. Have excellent quality pictures. These are just a few of the things your Realtor should have helped make happen. If they haven’t, then what are you paying them for?
Tip 2: Don’t Say Anything – Just because your house is featured on Curbed, or anywhere else on the web, doesn’t mean you need to write, post, comment, or blog anything in response. Be thankful for the free publicity your listing is getting, and remember that being featured on Curbed – even if you consider it a dubious honor - happens to very few houses. You’ve hired a Realtor to handle the sale of your house (haven’t you?) so let them deal with a response. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, which you’ll find out quite quickly if you decide to read the comments section of any blog post.
Tip 3: Don’t Take it Personally or Get Defensive – We cherish our houses and they often become a part of our identity. So this advice is much easier to give than to receive, but if you don’t want to come across as a stark raving lunatic, it’s really important to remember. Criticisms ofÂ your house are not criticisms of you. Commenters or bloggers at sites like curbed might not like your curtains, your finishes,Â your bathroom fixtures, or your whimsical collection of cows. And these things might represent parts of your personality, but they aren’t you. They are just things. Remember this. Take a deep breath and let it go. The attacks made by a bully say much more about their own personality and issues than they do about your whimsical collection of cows.
In my experience, articles written by most real estate websites pretty fair. Most real estate websites or blogs not associated with a particular Realtor are written to generate page views (their business model is based on advertising revenue), and we all know that boring articles generate a yawn at best. Commenters, on the other hand, can sometimes be exceptionally thoughtless and cold hearted. The last thing you want to do is end up in a heated back-and-forth argument with a commenter you don’t know and will likely never meet. If you really, really feel you must respond to either the article or a particular commenter, then keep it upbeat, acknowledge differing points of view, and explain (without attacking) why you made the choices you did. Here’s one theoretical example of a good and a not-so-good way to respond to online criticism.
Theoretical Angry Comment: That house is a dump, it’s overpriced by at least $200k. It’s going to be on the market for years, those idiots!
WRONG WAY TO RESPOND:
“Hey loser, you probably live in a trailer park next to an oil refinery, what would you know about pricing homes in my fashionably chic neighborhood? It has everything a buyer could possibly want and you are completely wrong to suggest otherwise. If you don’t take your comment down, I’m going to have my pack of rabid attorneys after you so quick you won’t know what hit you.
BETTER WAY TO RESPOND:
“Well, we all know that in the end the buyer sets the price for any home in any market. It sounds from your comments like it isn’t the home for you, but knowing our neighborhood and our competition, we feel we made the right pricing decision.”
Remember to keep your eye on the big picture, which is to get your home sold. Anything else is just a distraction.