The House that Tweets

“Outside my window today: Doggies! Walk to the plaza with Fido for great window shopping and takeaway coffee. Fresh air and fun.” So read a recent tweet from “106 Montclair Avenue,” aka Montclair resident and home seller Amrita Sawhney.

Sawhney is selling her house without a real estate broker – which is nothing new. What is innovative is the strategy she has devised to market the house. It combines skillful use of social media with an old-fashioned knack for leveraging social networks.

With the toughest market in decades, do-it-yourself sellers have had to get creative. It is no longer enough to host a few open houses and put up a For Sale sign in the front yard.

When Sawhney decided to sell her home, she knew she wanted to go a different route. “I love challenging myself,” she said. “I’m also a pretty savvy marketer and have a good understanding of how to use technology.” She designed the house’s website, and opened up its Facebook account and Twitter feed.
The website was a DIY job with the help of Go Daddy’s WebSite Tonight® program. As for the tweets, Sawhney said she wanted to give potential buyers a sense of “what it is like to live on this street.”

She has also used some more traditional avenues, including placing ads in The New York Times, as well as on Zillow and Craigslist. Sawhney admits that marketing your own home in this way is not for the faint of heart (or short of time). “You have to know your own skill sets, and it is a time commitment,” she said.

This weekend’s open house (2/12 and 2/13 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) will be the first real test of how many potential buyers her grassroots campaign has reached so far. Sawhney is making sure the house is ready for its close-up – she’s even having local artist Donna Grande stop by on Sunday to show some of her paintings.

What do you think of Sawhney’s strategy? Will it give her the edge in a bleak and sluggish housing market?

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  1. As someone who successfully marketed their rental without the help of a realtor or a listing, I think you have done a fantastic job. Six years ago, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist, so it was Craigslist and a website that did it for me. Unfortunately, you will find that the vast majority (probably >95%) of home purchasers look to the MLS to see what’s available for sale in a particular area. It’s true, you could get lucky and it does happen some times, but I simply don’t see what is going to draw people to your web page. Sure, you might catch a lead or two through friends, but how often will this actually result in a sale? Additionally, your price appears a bit high. We just purchased a home in the same neighborhood (Stephen Street) with similar specifications minus the updated bath for almost 37% less. This sale included a realtor commission paid by the seller of course. A realtor might have suggested you should have appealed your taxes at some point as it appears you are over paying and this will hurt your sales potential. So once again, I think you are on the right track, but ultimately, it’s the correct price and exposure that sells a home. When and if you do go the traditional route, I can offer some good leads.

    One last thing. In my 2.5 years of searching for a new home, it appeared that every FSBO was priced terribly. I always wondered if this was due to the lack of knowledge of recent neighborhood sales, or just an attempt at being frugal by the seller. Good luck and we’ll be watching. I hope you are one of the lucky ones.

  2. I wish her good luck. I did the same, when I had to sell my parents home. I did not do it, (as some said, to keep every penny and not allow a profesional to handle it) – but rather because I wanted full control.
    It took some time, but I sold it. As I found out, one cannot have a job nor a business and do this. It takes alot of your time, and it is NOT easy.
    CORRECTION” It takes 90% of your time !! I think that selling private homes and automobiles are the 2 hardest items to sell.

  3. It’s all going to come down to price. It’s a pretty basic house, and there is nothing magical about someone walking their dog by it.

  4. I applaud your effort, your writing style and your design. However I agree that 1) you have to get into the MLS if you want the best chance for success. There are services that will get your home listed for a Flat Fee if you are determined to avoid a realtor. As for your social media efforts, I have a suggestion to help you avoid talking to an empty room: instead of posting FB/Twitter content that is important to YOU (“why my house & block is so great”) instead consider posting items that are interesting to your targeted home shoppers (daily tips about Montclair, school registration process, best sushi joints, best pizza delivery, commuting tips, best supermarkets, etc) and list all of this content as “sponsored by the sale of 106 Montclair Ave” Then link back to your website which IS the perfect place to show off how great your house is! I bet if you do a great enough job and build a big following, a local realtor will beg to take over the pages after you sell. One last tip, Baristanet is great exposure – seek out other media outlets if you haven’t already, this story is journalist gold. Good luck – you have a great looking place!

  5. I agree with Stu. This house seems overpriced, esp in this market. I’ve seen houses that are aggressively priced and they’re not moving. I think she’s got a great idea to do a little more of an unconventional way of marketing the house but the “right” price goes a long way. Good luck!

  6. What a lovely home, I went to the opening today. I think this house will sell very quickly –it is priced just right.

  7. I have to say, I appreciate that the owner has provided large photographs on the site. So many real estate sites have tiny low-res shots which are rarely big or sharp enough to get any sense of detail. However, for someone who claims to have “a good understanding of how to use technology,” the fact that every link on the navigation bar spawns a new window when clicked screams “amateur.” Best of luck in selling the house; I just hope that the alternative media efforts are polished enough to attract serious buyers.

  8. Funny how people pretend to write a “helpful” post, only to leave a nasty comment. What’s your real motivation? It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a brain.

  9. I attended the open house this weekend – this house is charming. A great location, with the perfect floor plan for a growing family. Certainly a home I will be showing to my clients. I am however, disturbed by the amount of negative comments posted by my thinly veiled colleagues. The housing market pie is big enough for all of us and in these challenging times it helps us all to think outside the box. If this industrious couple wants to list on their own I wish them nothing but luck. Taking into account all this house has to offer and the comps in the neighborhood I would say not only is this house price right, but in move-in ready condition, its priced to sell.

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