The Value of a Good Story

Real Estate Agent with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage GREC #208281


A Good Story Increases Perceived Value

Key Points

  • Study showed common items increased in value with a good story
  • How a home is staged and presented tells its own story
  • Adding a seller letter allows the right story to be told


Can a good story actually add value to a piece of junk? These stories turned $128.74 worth of garage sale junk into $3,612.51?

Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn founded the site, which showcases the value of a good story. They had writers buy cheap items for a dollar or two at thrift stores or garage sales. They then created a fictional story about the item and put them up on eBay.

The stories were clearly fictional. They didn't make any claims that the item was a rare or valuable collector's piece. The stories just seemed to make these objects "significant" which translated into people paying much more than they did when they were just sitting on the shelf of a thrift store.

The penguin creamer which was purchased for $3 ended up selling for $31 when a story was attached to it.

People seem to be willing to pay more when emotions are involved in the purchase decision. Tap into the emotions and the price becomes less significant.

Some stories are told without words. The way something is presented allows the observer to create their own story, for better or for worse. It's like that with selling homes.

The other month I was showing a home that had my buyers wondering about the seller. Why did the seller not clean the carpets and do a little painting before putting the home on the market? We had initially come to the conclusion that some people just must not care and are stupid and lazy. Which made my buyers begin to assume that there was probably a lot of deferred maintenance that would have to be dealt with.

As we were getting ready to leave, I saw that the seller had left a letter on the counter next to the brochures. It said something about the seller being a single dad who was trying his best to take care of his two teenage kids. He apologized if things weren't all up to snuff. He had been traveling back and forth from his new job in a new city and just didn't have the time to clean and have everything the way it should be. He pointed out how much he had loved and cared for the home but life happened and he had to make a move. He promised that over the next few weeks he would get the carpets cleaned and the house painted so the new buyer would be able to move right in.

That little story changed everything. A few minutes before we had visions of a lazy slob of a seller and a home that was most likely full of deferred maintenance. After reading the letter, the seller became kind of a hero and the cosmetic flaws in the home seemed to be a lot less significant.

Stories do create real value. Use them to your advantage.

Posted by



About the Author:  Tim Maitski has been a full time Realtor since 1999. He has sold several hundreds of homes in areas around metro Atlanta.  Tim started with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta and is now with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage.


Along with blogging on ActiveRain, he provides one of the best real estate websites in Atlanta at .


His proprietary  "Maitski Line Reports" chart out the absorption rates over the past 14 years in 37 different market areas.  Know when it's a good time to buy or a good time to sell.    


His online Property Tax Calculator allows you to compare property taxes in many counties and cities around the Atlanta area.  He provides the Atlanta MLS Power Search Tool that allows searches of homes using over 35 specific criteria.


Over the years, Tim has optimized his business so that he now can offer a huge 50% commission rebate to his buyers.  The more experience one gets, the easier the job becomes.


Tim also has a "Five Days to Sold" System that uses an intensive marketing blitz to create a showing frenzy that creates urgency and offers.


Tim is always looking to LinkIn with anyone who is interested in building their social network.


View Tim Maitski ●Atlanta Realtor●'s profile on LinkedIn

Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Assumptions can sometimes lead people in the wrong direction...a little compassion goes a long way.

Jun 05, 2018 07:09 AM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Tim. I think you are right and I think there is much to learn from this.

Jun 05, 2018 08:39 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Yes Tim Maitski  you are right never assume . There are times there maybe a good story to tell

Jun 05, 2018 11:20 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Tim- we often make up little stories about what's going on when we see someone or a couple doing something different. I love this story because it does teach us never to assume we know what is going on in someone's life. 

Jun 05, 2018 05:26 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Tim, great post, and leaving a note explaining things does shine a different light on someone's situation.

Jun 09, 2018 06:23 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign


                          Thank you Tim. 

Jun 09, 2018 05:36 PM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

I need to do this.  What a great idea to help market some homes.

Jun 10, 2018 05:44 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

What an epiphany.  It's so true - seeing a situation in new light can profoundly alter the outcome. Great post and story. D  ( Why isn't this featured?) 

Jun 10, 2018 06:25 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Very clever. It's so true and yet something most of us never think of. A good spin can work miracles!

Jun 10, 2018 07:13 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-617-6375
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Yes, really understanding a situation via a story can make a difference. Lynn

Jun 10, 2018 10:24 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

  So true, Tim Maitski.  I was an eBay "power seller" from 1999 to about 2004.  I sold over 2500 books and antiques.   Always I told a story. 

     Example:  I had a front door push bar from a Woolworth's Store... you may remember before stores had automatic doors, you pushed the metal safety bar on the front door as you went inside.  This particular door bar was embossed "Woolworth's" in red letters.  It might have brought $10 or $15.  But in the description of the item, I added a photo of the 1960 lunch counter sit-in protest in Greensboro, North Carolina, and stated that "maybe" this bar could have come from that very store.  "No guarantees, but it's possible this could be from the historic sit-in". 

            I got over $200 for that door bar!

Jun 10, 2018 08:07 PM
Tim Maitski

Fred,  Great story.  It's amazing how valuable a story can be.  Just a few words that make another person think a certain way.  

Jun 11, 2018 05:04 AM
Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

Wow... a good story is definitely valuable.  Thank you for sharing!!  Kathy

Jun 11, 2018 07:52 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Tim Maitski ,

I'm so glad Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week. You are so right.. a good story goes a long way in raising the perceived value!

Jun 12, 2018 03:57 AM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Tim, you are so right. People love stories and it is a very effective way of getting others to see what you want them to see.

I enjoyed your story.


Jun 12, 2018 04:37 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Tim

This is great advice along with the good example to illustrate. We all know emotions can play a huge role in the home buying, and selling process. Telling a story through the staging/condition, any video, photos, and in the listing can work wonders. Great timing as I have a new listing in a few days and the absentee seller has share some key pointers about life there in the past that I think will help add value and emotion to the listing.


Jun 12, 2018 12:13 PM