Real Estate Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
The author had the right idea about real estate advertising when he penned the following advertisement. It lacks, however, that great essential: Price.
To speak of the accessibility and advantages, as well as the price of a piece of property, is the proper thing for the real estate advertisement to do. Thousands upon thousands of families pay rent year after year without a thought as to the foolishness of that method, compared with buying real estate on the installment plan or joining a building and loan association with a view to the future possession of one's own home. Every head of a family should well consider this point, and every rightly constituted head of a family would, were his attention only attracted to it by a short, sensible argument. We are all creatures of habit—all influenced by environments—all walking the dreary tread-mill of routine until some sharp, sudden circumstance or friendly hint puts us on an easier—or rougher—road. Advertising real estate is susceptible to so many strong selling arguments that when properly gotten up it should be extremely interesting to the ambitious solid readers of any newspaper.
When considerably younger than the present writing shows me to be, I wandered out in the Pacific Northwest. I bought—on the instalment plan—a couple of lots in a small boom town, but which, according to the newspaper advertisements, had the future possibilities of a Chicago, San Francisco and Tacoma rolled in one. This boom town had a weekly paper and an imposing array of streets, avenues, projected street car lines, steam railroad facilities, etc. (on paper). Its weekly paper was an assured fact, for had I not read and re-read several copies of the sheet, which—according to present memory—seemed to contain nothing but interviews from eminent men who were going to locate there, promises from transportation magnates as to what they were going to do and a lot of glittering general-ties, exceedingly gratifying to investors who wished five hundred per cent. profit on their land investments.
This weekly paper was a great comfort to me. I had paid up about seventy-five per cent. of my payments when I had occasion to visit a nearby city. While on this visit the steamer passed the town wherein my lots were located. It ran near enough to enable me to see that the town consisted of a wharf, a couple of small buildings that looked like outhouses and the forest primeval! I was shocked. The purser noticing my chagrin, and spotting me for a tenderfoot, laughed a most sarcastic laugh and made a remark befitting it.
" Well, where do they print their weekly 'paper? " I asked. "In the city you are going to visit," he replied.
I paid no more money on that property, and I do not think any other investor did after he saw with his own eyes the town and its possibilities. Although put to base uses, the advertising that so impressed me was a good illustration of the power of printer's ink. At that time hundreds upon hundreds of lots were sold to Eastern investors who never saw their property, but who were influenced by the advertising.
Later I sold lots on my own hook in an all-right Western town after this style
Space was taken in the local papers announcing a grand free excursion on Sunday to a barbecue at beautiful Bright-onside, which was going to be the most popular suburb, which was convenient to trolley cars and steam trains, and which was selling swiftly at $I75 per lot—$5 down and $5 per month. Each lot contained 25 x 100 feet.
These events took place on Saturday afternoons as well as holidays, and were extremely popular with the working people. I remember how one afternoon I personally sold fifteen lots. The barbecue and free excursion were wonderful assistants in producing the right impressions upon the would-be purchasers.
Here is a good way to advertise a farm. It is to the point, yet complete with every detail, including price:
For Sale—Half Section—choice first class stock and coarse grain farm, one hundred and sixty acres under cultivation, sixty acres fenced for pasture, frame dwelling house, stables, granaries, and two good wells, within two and a half miles of railway station. Clear title. Price, ten dollars per acre. Half cash, balance on time if required. Liberal discount for all cash. John Johnston.
The wise real estate buyer has learned (probably through bitter experience) the importance of sound title. Do not forget in your real estate advertising to state the fact that the title is clear and sound.