SELLING WHEN NO ONE IS BUYING

September 1st, 2009 by CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego)


When asked what I like to write about, my short answer is…things that are happening to people (myself and others), and people that make things happen. In “slow times” who makes things happen; who is selling, when no one is buying?  How do you sell a dream, something that will only become a reality, in the future. Like good wine ☺, or even one of our design concepts?

To get some illumination on this I talked with local entrepreneur Judith Matheson, who has been orchestrating successful deals for over 20 years.

“What I do is eliminate problems before they surface, or I have solutions ready as soon as they do”, says Judith. “For example, right now everyone is concerned about financing. This concern is actually stopping people from even looking for property. So a couple of weeks ago I had a mortgage broker share my “event” at an open house, and she had financing options ready as soon as my guests passed through the front door. And yes, my open houses become a “networking event”, and you’d be surprised how much cross-promotion happens, and how this leads to selling more product! For all of us!”

one-wall081_22Pre-selling properties prior to their completion has its own set of issues. As the “Internet bubble” was bursting in 2000, the One Wall Centre property was still under construction in Vancouver, BC. A real architectural statement for the city of Vancouver, it received the award for the best “Millenium Skyscraper” in 2000, and best in the world in 2001. Yet it appeared few could actually visualize the “dream lifestyle” possible in what was one of the most interesting and innovative residential buildings of the times.

Enter Judith, to sell this new and very different (like nothing before in Vancouver) city experience. Her sales office was located on the 35th floor in an adjoining hotel building across the Wall Centre Courtyard, where she and her exclusive buyers could watch the building evolve into the tallest  city icon, and where they were able to experience the unobstructed views similar to what would be theirs, thus immediately eliminating any view-related concerns.

I asked her how she sold and closed the 64 penthouse-style suites for this extremely forward thinking developer.

“First of all, I listened a great deal, and learned very quickly what my potential buyers were finding difficult to imagine about buying into and living on one of the top floors of a skyscraper; specifically a residence above a  hotel with 95 feet of curving ceiling to floor glass, and the opportunity to customize their space.

“In their subconscious, the residents needed to begin “living the dream”, and this is some of how I made the dream real, one, two or even three years in advance!  When buyers arrived at the airport, the hotel limo picked them up and brought them to the adjacent hotel tower (already in operation), where I had reserved a room approximating the view of the suite they were considering purchasing. If my buyers arrived by car, then they were able to experience the residences’ valet parking, one of the amenities available.

“I ordered room service directly to my sales suite, which became a frequent destination for my buyers, and where I pampered them with lunch, cappuccino, and later reserved the hotel limo to take them to a downtown restaurant for dinner. Both the room service and the limo are perks for the residences. ☺

“Many of my buyers were international, and getting up to speed fast with routine and unusual services became a prerequisite for buying & doing business in a unfamiliar city. To accommodate this, I had to compile a unique database for my diverse clientele, who needed bankers, accountants, lawyers, beauty salons and spas, designers, caterers, and multimedia experts amongst others. I had to make sure these professional resources would be available to any of my clients at a moments notice.

“At the same time future residents embraced the Wall Centre lifestyle, we focused a lot on the actual interior spaces. The interior design by Mitchell Freedland featured superior furniture-quality kitchens, dropped and curved ceilings, and defined open spaces. Many buyers chose designs that were showcased in my sales suite; others opted to bring in their own designers and architects for some unique customization (see below) , and a few really incredible multiple suites combined.

15pad-walls-72blog

“I was with the project from the initial sales contact to the final handing over of keys. I became a ‘fixture of continuity’ for my clients, and I communicated with some of the early adopters (buyers) for nearly three years.  I worked with several very closely to facilitate their designers and architects. This was a continuing journey in care and service; really, just what ‘living the dream’ in a skyscraper over a hotel is all about”

I asked Judith what happens if people have “view issues” when there isn’t a neighboring hotel to ‘proof’ things from….☺

“There is almost always some way to remove a barrier, or eliminate a fear when something is very new….Believe it or not, quite recently I had to rent a crane with a viewing platform, and hoist my buyers up to the approximate location of their view on the 8th floor of Sterling House at UBC; all this so they were completely confident it would not be blocked (see below). What an event that turned into!”

crane8001

Obviously in some situations there is nothing one can do to close a sale. I asked how this played out when pre-selling the residences at One Wall Centre.

“Rarely can you make a sale when a couple can’t agree. I could have completed some pre-sales quite a bit faster if I could have arranged some husband swapping; though that’s a bit extreme even for me! ☺

“Also, if a couple is too agreeable, or one or the other is playing the “I’ll make you happy dear” couples game, every offer is just too low to clinch the deal, yet “I am doing everything to make you happy!” he says………..”

“I sell by marketing a lifestyle; painting mind pictures…..in fact creating a movie in a persons mind, but also making sure the movie is not better than the reality…..too easy to do. I would rather have my buyers surprised by the wonderfulness rather then disappointed.

“One by one I remove their concerns, solve the issues, until, if it is something a buyer really wants or is considering, there is nothing left stopping them from buying. If I think about it, I pretty much go through the same process myself every time I buy something, no matter how major or how small.”

On a final note, I asked Judith if there was anything else that was important in closing deals during slower markets:

judith-matheson-color_2_2

“I might only add that working together with my network of fellow professionals is extremely important to me at all times, but perhaps even more so when things are slow. When I am selling a property I attend every showing, and have all the information or try to, available, so all questions are answered, and all solutions to problems handled even before they are raised.”

One surprise for me was that prior to using email, Judith networked by fax, like no other; mimicking twitter today, she faxed what seemed like 140 character messages back and forth, and yet she admittedly has been slow to adopt social networking as a business tool so far.  Though intrigued by the changes social media is bringing, she feels with her particular contacts she wants to maintain the “specialness and exclusiveness” which she is known for. Though she has heard it is working for several other city Realtors, she feels it is currently not for her. Do you agree with Judith, or should she be embracing Social Media to expand her business?

Comments, suggestions or discussion; please comment below, or email Judith at judith@judithmatheson.com or me at casudi@esse-group.com.

Caroline Di Diego
@CASUDI
www.inclinedesign.info
INCLINED TO DESIGN

16 Responses to “SELLING WHEN NO ONE IS BUYING”

  1. The Men Behind Successful Women « wingspouse blog Says:

    My big break came when a twitter @CASUDI connection, Caroline Di Diego whose Blog is ~Inclined to Design~ challenged me to start writing a piece addressing male wingspouses. She was a wonderful source for high profile women married to supportive men, and was especially interested in what I could offer to men fulfilling the wingspouse role.

  2. Debra Ellis Says:

    Caroline,

    This is a great post. It provides a perfect example of selling emotions instead of products. I think every real estate professional should be participating in social media to build relationships and anticipation for coming attractions. If it is done well (and I’m sure that Judith would do it well) buyers would enter the property pre-sold on its virtues.

    Debra

  3. ALIWAN Says:

    As a former New Yorker, the Wall Centre building reminds me of the high end Chelsea Condo I resided in a few years ago, which came with a high-end design life style in a prime neighborhood. I recently moved to the West Coast and have visited many downtown residences and the Wall Centre is really magnificent with some of the very best design. This is one of the precious gems in the city of Vancouver, rated the #1 city to live in the world now for several years.

    I enjoyed every word of this post, it made me think a great deal. I am impressed how Judith prepares and closes business deals, it’s all very interesting. I always enjoy your writing because I feel I am watching a movie. Judith’s picture is great, it shows her personality and makes a statement.

    When she says “marketing a lifestyle; painting mind pictures”— I really like this!!!

    Her way of closing deals reminds me of my trade show management experiences and my engagement with top executives; it’s important to prepare early and be able to solve problems at all times to show one is in charge, very expert at what one does and a professional.

  4. An Interview with Lee Matheson « wingspouse blog Says:

    […] I recently had the pleasure to interview a charming gentleman who truly understands the value of a wingspouse lifestyle. His name is Lee Matheson. He is a successful actor, licensed Realtor, and married to entrepreneur ” Lifestyle” Realtor Judith Matheson. […]

  5. An Interview with Lee Matheson « wingspouse blog Says:

    […] I recently had the pleasure to interview a charming gentleman who truly understands the value of a wingspouse lifestyle. His name is Lee Matheson. He is a successful actor, licensed Realtor, and married to entrepreneur ” Lifestyle” Realtor Judith Matheson. […]

  6. Vivian Hatiras Says:

    I have had the pleasure of working with Judith Matheson for the last 10 years. I am a Mobile Mortgage Specialist with TD Canada Trust and part of Judith’s service team.

    I was honored to have the distinction of working exclusively alongside Judith Matheson at One Wall Centre, which was and still is “THE address” in Vancouver.

    This experience allowed me to see Judith in action first hand. From the “pre-sale” stage, consultation stages, completion and after sale service Judith has it covered. She enjoys catering to her clients every need. In fact, her service does not end with the sale. Judith continues to provide value added service years after the sale has taken place.

    If you need related services, look no further than Judith Matheson. She is an encyclopedia of the “Who’s Who” of Vancouver. Are you looking for the best property manager, architect, designer, painter, spa or sushi bar Call Judith!

    I love hearing from our clients about her. She brings years of experience to the table which satisfies the practical aspects , however she brings a creative energy that takes the service and results to a whole new level. Her custom marketing plans are legendary and cutting edge!

    From the first time home buyer to the seasoned luxury buyer, everyone should take advantage of her highly specialized, friendly service.

    You will surely be delighted!

    Vivian Hatiras

  7. Vivian Hatiras Says:

    I have had the pleasure of working with Judith Matheson for the last 10 years. I am a Mobile Mortgage Specialist with TD Canada Trust and part of Judith’s service team.

    I was honored to have the distinction of working exclusively alongside Judith Matheson at One Wall Centre, which was and still is “THE address” in Vancouver.

    This experience allowed me to see Judith in action first hand. From the “pre-sale” stage, consultation stages, completion and after sale service Judith has it covered. She enjoys catering to her clients every need. In fact, her service does not end with the sale. Judith continues to provide value added service years after the sale has taken place.

    If you need related services, look no further than Judith Matheson. She is an encyclopedia of the “Who’s Who” of Vancouver. Are you looking for the best property manager, architect, designer, painter, spa or sushi bar Call Judith!

    I love hearing from our clients about her. She brings years of experience to the table which satisfies the practical aspects , however she brings a creative energy that takes the service and results to a whole new level. Her custom marketing plans are legendary and cutting edge!

    From the first time home buyer to the seasoned luxury buyer, everyone should take advantage of her highly specialized, friendly service.

    You will surely be delighted!

    Vivian Hatiras

  8. Judith Matheson Says:

    Thanks to all for your comments, and to Caroline (@CASUDI) for writing this article with such care and making what I do on a daily basis seem so unique. Vivian… you are one of the “very special” members of my team and it is you, with your professional and entertaining manner that contributes to making my open houses an event. It is such a pleasure working with you and more importantly having you as a friend!

    Thank you Debra for your confidence in me, even without knowing me. When I decide to go the Social Media route I will have to come to you for some tips :-)

    Aliwan, I found it interesting you take so very much the same approach as I do in your corporate world. I am sure you will be very successful.

    Reading all of this and hearing my ” WingSpouse’s ” loving online interview, made me wonder if you were really discussing me :-) To my “WingSpouse”…I could not do any of this without you………

    Judith

  9. Judith Matheson Says:

    Thanks to all for your comments, and to Caroline (@CASUDI) for writing this article with such care and making what I do on a daily basis seem so unique. Vivian… you are one of the “very special” members of my team and it is you, with your professional and entertaining manner that contributes to making my open houses an event. It is such a pleasure working with you and more importantly having you as a friend!

    Thank you Debra for your confidence in me, even without knowing me. When I decide to go the Social Media route I will have to come to you for some tips :-)

    Aliwan, I found it interesting you take so very much the same approach as I do in your corporate world. I am sure you will be very successful.

    Reading all of this and hearing my ” WingSpouse’s ” loving online interview, made me wonder if you were really discussing me :-) To my “WingSpouse”…I could not do any of this without you………

    Judith

  10. Kathi Browne Says:

    Isn’t this such a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a husband and wife work as partners? I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with Judith, but I learned a lot about her through my interview with Lee. What a wonderful treat to get to know both of them… and Caroline!

  11. Kathi Browne Says:

    Isn’t this such a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a husband and wife work as partners? I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with Judith, but I learned a lot about her through my interview with Lee. What a wonderful treat to get to know both of them… and Caroline!

  12. CathyWebSavvyPR Says:

    Caroline, I enjoyed this post.

    One way in which social media, done well, can help a creative real estate professional, without compromising the special touch she provides her clients, is by becoming the ‘go to’ person online for cutting edge stories in the industry. This helps build trust in their personal brand, making it easier for them to stand out in a prospect or client’s mind.

    You can set up a strategy to passively collect the best articles in interior design, architecture, home furnishings, new architectural projects, design and building trends, luxury etc, then turn that into an interactive stream of information on one or more social networking sites and/or a blog. It does take some time, but this approach would put someone way ahead of many in the RE industry who just tweet out listings and home showings.

    It would give someone a presence in the social media landscape, so that if a client is out there and looking at the RE ‘skyline,’ they are not noticeably missing.

    Another thought: I usually suggest that clients open their Twitter profile for all to see. This might be one time when a “protected” Twitter stream might work (when a Twitter profile is “protected”the owner has to approve who can view his/her information); it would give a level of exclusivity, though it might turn some prospects off.

  13. CathyWebSavvyPR Says:

    Caroline, I enjoyed this post.

    One way in which social media, done well, can help a creative real estate professional, without compromising the special touch she provides her clients, is by becoming the ‘go to’ person online for cutting edge stories in the industry. This helps build trust in their personal brand, making it easier for them to stand out in a prospect or client’s mind.

    You can set up a strategy to passively collect the best articles in interior design, architecture, home furnishings, new architectural projects, design and building trends, luxury etc, then turn that into an interactive stream of information on one or more social networking sites and/or a blog. It does take some time, but this approach would put someone way ahead of many in the RE industry who just tweet out listings and home showings.

    It would give someone a presence in the social media landscape, so that if a client is out there and looking at the RE ‘skyline,’ they are not noticeably missing.

    Another thought: I usually suggest that clients open their Twitter profile for all to see. This might be one time when a “protected” Twitter stream might work (when a Twitter profile is “protected”the owner has to approve who can view his/her information); it would give a level of exclusivity, though it might turn some prospects off.

  14. Scott Jensen, MBA, Realtor Says:

    “I sell by marketing a lifestyle; painting mind pictures…..in fact creating a movie in a persons mind, but also making sure the movie is not better than the reality…”

    That is so true! Too often agents will overdo their imagery or underestimate potential problems, and when expectations are not met, the client relationship is ruined.

  15. Debra Ellis Says:

    Caroline,

    This is a great post. It provides a perfect example of selling emotions instead of products. I think every real estate professional should be participating in social media to build relationships and anticipation for coming attractions. If it is done well (and I'm sure that Judith would do it well) buyers would enter the property pre-sold on its virtues.

    Debra

  16. Debra Ellis Says:

    Caroline,

    This is a great post. It provides a perfect example of selling emotions instead of products. I think every real estate professional should be participating in social media to build relationships and anticipation for coming attractions. If it is done well (and I'm sure that Judith would do it well) buyers would enter the property pre-sold on its virtues.

    Debra

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