Selling Real Estate and the Art of Storytelling: adding narrative to your sales pitch!

Real Estate Agent with HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 RS-76763


A good story doesn't cost a what's your story?


Lets face it just about everyone enjoys a good story, even the potential buyers looking at your property for sale. In Hawaii we call it Talking Story which colloquially means both story telling and social conversation. When it comes to Real Estate Merchandising and Marketing, storytelling or in this case Story-SELLING is more than just anecdotal ice breakers or idle gossip but a highly evolved art of association that casts the potential buyer as the protagonist in the drama that is your property for sale. 

In the antiques and diamond selling business it's called provenance. Similar to a chain of title in Real Estate terms the provenance of a unique and valuable asset is the history of it's ownership from it's creation to it's current owner. Sometimes it is the very history of the object that closes the deal for the purchaser and not so surprisingly it is the emotional connection to the narrative that often motivates the purchase. Case in point the infamous Hope Diamond has an astonishing and storied provenance and a purportedly notorious curse. The large blue diamond was first introduced to Evelyn McClean, Washington socialite and owner of the Washington Post, by renowned French jeweler Pierre Cartier. Knowing the power of storytelling, Monsieur Cartier cleverly presented the diamond wrapped in paper and did not reveal the stone until he told it's storied and colorful past, at which point Mrs. McClean demanded to see it. Although, Cartier did not make the sale that day, Mrs. McClean did purchase the legendary gem shortly there after and it is said she did so largely because of it's story and curse.
Ok so your property is more diamond in the rough than big bling. No worries, not all properties for sale have an interesting back-story with famous inhabitants, scandalous events, or momentous occasions but you would be surprised to find out just how many actually do. All you need to do is little research and you might be pleasantly pleased by some of the interesting gems of local history and colorful characters that potential buyers are eager to hear about, giving some "personality" to your property for sale. Start with the chain of title and go from there, the more flesh and blood details the more interesting the brick and mortar. Ask neighbors and long time residents what they know of the property, they often are eager to share what they have witnessed and heard especially if it's interesting or even better scandalous. 
Talking story to potential buyers can instantly push the purchase potential from luke warm to hot to trot and the reasoning behind this is: consumers like to feel emotionally connected to their environments. If you have ever walked into a home that is several hundred years or older there is often a revelation of the humanity associated with the space and the many generations that have lived there. It is here that the story teller turns wear and tear into nostalgia; an empty room into the birth place of a dynasty; a dank basement into a former speakeasy; and a cool consumer into a burning buyer. The narrative should of course be truthful but it doesn't have to include famous people, major events, or end happily for that matter. It just has to convey emotion in a way that is relatable to the buyer. Granted you will probably want to leave certain information as a discreet disclosure as necessary. It doesn't take a Stephen King to know that horror as a genre may sell movies and books but not necessarily homes, obviously discretion should be used.
So how do you create a narrative for your property for sale? Find out who designed and built the property; who's owned it; was the property used for purposes other than what it was intended; were special events held there i.e. weddings, party's, civic meetings, musical performances, movies filmed, etc. Did anyone famous "sleep" there. When showing the property to potential buyers use it's features and details in the story itself and include the buyer too; So and so used this room to write their memoirs aren't you writing a book? What elements of the property were specifically created to meet the needs of it's inhabitant. i.e. the original owner had polio so he built the in-ground pool, the first in the neighborhood. Just about everything and anything can be woven into an informative and interesting story giving your property for sale a life of it's own; ready to embrace a new chapter and buyer.
and the story continues... Selling Real Estate and the Art of Storytelling: adding narrative to your sales pitch!
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                                            HI Pro Realty - PET FRIENDLY HONOLULU REALTOR, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT


HI Pro Realty LLC - REALTORS®, PROPERTY MANAGERS® is a boutique brokerage firm offering responsive, dedicated, and professional Real Estate Sales and Management Services in Honolulu, Hawai'i. 






Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Kathy Streib 02/09/2012 01:14 AM
  2. Cheryl Ritchie 02/10/2012 12:24 AM
ActiveRain Community
Hawaii Honolulu County Honolulu
Luxury Home Marketing
Buildings Architecture and Dings
Hawaii Real Estate Professionals
Heritage Properties, Historic Sites and Antiques .
potential buyers
selling real estate
real estate merchandising
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Barbara Heise
Keller Williams Realty STL - Saint Louis, MO
Search for Homes for Sale in St. Louis

I have so many stories that I tell as I am showing property but your blog has me expanding this story-telling to all of listings.  I love it.

Feb 08, 2012 10:19 PM #4
Chris Twing
Twing Staging & Redesign - Cedar Park, TX

I recently did some reading on the "new marketing" and story telling was included in both. Thank you for illustrating so well how this can be used in real estate.

Feb 09, 2012 12:08 AM #5
Nathan Rufty - 623-850-1210
Canopy Mortgage, LLC - Surprise, AZ
Mortgage Loan Originator at 623-850-1210

Blogs that have a story from what I see have the most comments, story telling time

Feb 09, 2012 12:15 AM #6
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Kimo- Aloha!  And congratulations on a wonderful post and the feature.  I was fortunate enough to have 3 seasoned Realtors show me houses in years past and they could tell stories and the histories of so many of the houses.  They really KNEW their area.


Feb 09, 2012 01:06 AM #7
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I got a few things to bring up around my neck of the woods plus I like doing it too...good one Kimo

Feb 09, 2012 02:14 AM #8
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Kimo - This post reads like a great novella!  I'm always intrigued when I see listing of heritage homes where the architect was some lumber barren around the turn of the century, and all the history that goes along with that.  It just makes the home that much more appealing. 

Feb 09, 2012 02:34 AM #9
Peter Michelbach
International, IT
i Sell Real Estate

Kimo, thank you for a great inspirational post...connect, embrace and live the story. Be well

Feb 09, 2012 03:14 AM #10
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Kimo, very good point! I think every property has a story behind it. A great way to intrigue buyers and peaking their interest.

Feb 09, 2012 03:28 AM #11
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Interesting concept to bring into the home selling process. 

Finding out some past history or anything unusual or special about the house is bound pique the buyer's interest - which is what we always like to do.

Feb 09, 2012 05:41 AM #12
Mike Warfel
Mike & Rita Warfel Real Estate LLC - Avoca, MI
Associate Broker

Story telling is the art of making friends while selling real estate.


Feb 09, 2012 08:11 AM #13
Dave Keys
MOVE UP in Google Search Learn How Here - Brea, CA
Chief Search Strategist Real Estate SEO Expert

I recently heard about a radio interview with an author in the genre' of Steven King, you know, the horror fiction. If I could remember the author's name, you'd recognize it. The author talked in the interview for some five minutes or more about, not his new book, but about his dog. That's it. Stories about his dog and what anctics the dog was doing. The kind of things like standing on two feet to beg for food. Lowering its head to the floor when scolded- that kind of thing. The author finally did mention his book toward the end of the interview. That interview probably sold a lot of books. There was a dog that was in the book who was kind of a running theme in the story.

Feb 09, 2012 10:05 AM #14
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Kimo - An interesting idea on how to help make a home stand out more than others.

Feb 09, 2012 02:15 PM #15
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Great "story" post, Kimo!  The most interesting homes are the ones with stories, that is for sure.  I visited my childhood home a few years ago, and was delighted to hear from the current owners some tales of my own family when we grew up there!

Feb 09, 2012 03:52 PM #16
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Hi Kimo--Aloha and congratulations on a great feature.  I love to hear and read the stories of homes and properties.  You are right--this is a great way to help sell one.  Loved reading the post. 

Feb 09, 2012 04:10 PM #17
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I live in a community where there are homes that are one hundred years old.  They don't all have interesting stories, but many do.  You can bet that those stories are part of my marketing of those properties.

Feb 09, 2012 04:36 PM #18
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

This is really interesting. Now I have to look up the Hope diamond curse, too.

Feb 10, 2012 12:21 AM #19
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

I always try to include interesting facts and history associated with a listing. Not every home comes with a 'ready made' story, but with a little digging, something can usually be uncovered. Even with new construction, by talking with the builder there's almost always something that occured that can make a good story about how the new home came-to-be. I think stories add personality and dimension and definitely can set apart one listing from another. Thanks for the enjoyable post...which read like a story.

Feb 10, 2012 12:43 AM #20
Ciara Brennan
Mass Homes Realty - Hanover, MA

Fantastic post and something I certainly never thought of before!

Feb 11, 2012 12:22 AM #21
Kimo Stowell
HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 - Honolulu, HI
REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i
Aloha Mai Kakou!

Leslie, thank you for your kind words, and happy storytelling.
Andrew, matchmaking is a great way of looking at it. I can picture Tevya on the roof now.
Lenn, thanks for visiting. Seasoned hair dressers, bartenders, and Real Estate professionals are storytelling fountains or at least have the potential to be. Its amazing just how many stories are out there waiting to be told. 
Barbara, every wall has a story. Have fun.
Chris, storytelling is a social glue and lubricant in Hawaii. It's good to see it making head way in other marketing cultures.
Nathan, have fun. 
Kathy, mahalo! Its great to talk story with those who can dish. I love my octogenarian pals and boy can they dish the dirt, it gives an incredible depth and complexity to the community around you.
Richie, thanks and happy storytelling.
Sally, the history of the Pacific Northwest is packed with frontier adventure and I love to hear how wild the wild west really was.
Peter, thanks health and happiness to you.
Michael, It's amazing how potent the piquing can be.
Margaret, the Great Lakes area is a treasure trove of fascinating stories of shipwrecks, military sorties, frontier commerce and all the living that surrounded it. mahalo for commenting.
Mike, excellent way of looking at it, thank you.
Dave, great example of the power of connecting emotionally with potential buyers. WOOF!
Christine, thanks for visiting.
Maureen, it's neat to go back to former abodes, but what a treat to be included in the narrative!
Janet, Maui has a lot of fascinating stories, form ancient Hawai'i to today. Mahalo for the visit.
Evelyn, thank you for your comment and fun and happy tails.
Cheryl, the story of the hope diamond is fascinating especially what has happened to it's owners. The truly scary thing is that US is it's owner today. Yikes!
Charlie, thanks for commenting. I agree even new construction has a story behind it. Hopefully no burial grounds were disturbed;) Contractors are a great resource for stories. 
Aug 04, 2012 07:27 AM #23
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

Hi Kimo, I love a good story. I once considered having ranconteur on my business card as I am  a story teller from way back.

Love the idea of having a story for a property. I have one for my current home. I never tire of hearing it and will pass it along to the next buyer.

Great post.

Oct 01, 2012 01:37 AM #24
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Kimo Stowell

REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i
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