As a Melbourne real estate copywriter, I have had the privilege to walk into some amazing architectural masterpieces, some much loved homes, some unliveable hovels and some pretty basic gems. But each home has a personal story, a history and usually someone trying to sell it who has a very basic idea of how the real estate industry works.
When a home owner or investor entrusts an agent to sell their home, agents will tell them their ‘system’ – they will put an advertising schedule under their nose with a few thousand dollars for them to pay, explain briefly why they need to spend this money, that they need to solicitor or a conveyancing for their contracts, maybe some trades to fix a few things up, a stylist to bring it all together and that once it’s all ready and the photographer will come to take the photos. Yes, usually the agent will leave off the list that a floorplan artist and a copywriter will be coming to inspect their property too. The ‘system’ is automated for the agents and can sometimes feel a little overwhelming for the property owners, or worse, the executors of the estate who need to clean up someone else’s mess.
The number of times I’ve been to a property, knocking on the door hearing the vacuum cleaner at full steam and knocking louder before the dishevelled owner opens the door. The ‘dishevelled-ness’ is usually a sign that they have been cleaning everything with no sleep over the last 3 days because the agent had given them unrealistic expectations of how long it would take to get the home ready.
“Hi, I’m Sue here to write your advertising copy.”
“Oh,” looking at their watch, “I thought the photographer was coming now?”
“Yes, they probably are, but we were booked at the same time.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you were coming. What do you do again?”
“I’m your copywriter, I write the ads that help market your property. Can I come in?”
“Oh, I thought the real estate agent did that.”
“I’m sorry, no, we have been booked to write your ads.” And they let me in, apprehensively.
Once I’m inside, explaining what I do, asking questions about the home and its history, the property owners start to be more at ease… and then they open up. “I wish I knew it would be so much work to get the house ready for sale.” “We didn’t have stylists and copywriters when we sold our house 25 years ago.” “I don’t like how the stylists have taken away the curtains so you can see right through the house.” “It doesn’t feel like my home anymore.” “I wish they told me a, b and c.” Maybe it’s my personable nature, maybe it’s the fact that I’m a ‘stranger’, but when they talk, they tell me all their secrets, concerns with their agents or their solicitor, or the handyman who wasn’t on time. I reassure them that they have chosen a great agent, make them feel more confident in their decisions and show empathy to their concerns, as I’ve been there… it’s scary. It’s nerve-racking. It’s literally overwhelming, selling your biggest asset and not knowing if all this hard work will pay off or if the market will do a quick dive into the unknown.
At the end of 2018, it got me thinking… if there was a place where people looking to buy, sell, rent or invest who had never done it before or hadn’t done it for years, wanted to arm themselves with knowledge about the small intricate elements of real estate and what they need to know before they put their home on the market, before they bought that house, before they rented a property or before they bought an investment, would it make their lives a little easier? If that knowledge was objective, expert, covered specifically the Melbourne real estate market and how we do things in Melbourne, would they feel more empowered knowing that their particular concerns are being targeted and answered? Could it also be a good vehicle for real estate agents to build up their knowledge from experts in other fields that complement the real estate industry, knowledge that doesn’t get taught as professional development through the employer or the REIV? Knowledge that makes them look more credible to their clients advising their vendors, buyers or tenants about their rights, certain procedures and more so, about what can happen if it all goes wrong.
What vehicle could I create that could harness all of this? It couldn’t be a book, as it would constantly need to be updated. A magazine column? Possibly, but then the readers would need to buy that magazine or subscribe to it, so it’s limiting. And I’m not the expert, I would need to interview experts to make it feasible. Maybe I should go back to my radio days (I studied radio at university, and volunteered at a community radio station for 5 years). Podcasts are becoming popular… maybe I could create a podcast?
I loved the idea! I did some more research, my partner said he would build me a sound proof studio (because he’s awesome, and loves a project), and I headed off to Sydney in May 2019 to the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, the very school I so desperately wanted to go to as a teenager, and did a weekend podcast workshop so I had the basics on how to create my podcast.
I told a photographer, Grant Kennedy from We Shoot Buildings, about my hair-brain idea, and he wanted in…. I thought about it, knowing how much work was involved, and thought it was good to have someone to bounce off. I wanted to have our first 12 episodes recorded before the end of the year to launch in January 2020. By September, we had a podcast schedule ready to go, but no experts. I started sending out emails to celebrity agents – ones from The Block and other well-known agents who have big social media presence. It was interesting who responded and who didn’t, and for all those who have listened to the podcast know who ‘did’ respond. It took until October 2019 for my podcasting studio to be finished. Grant and I did a couple of trial runs on how we spoke and created banter. We got my mum in to do a trial, my partner came into the studio to do one as well. By the end of November 2019, we had our first guests arriving at the studio, most doing the 40-50 kilometre journey down the freeway to Somerville, and we had our first recordings.
As it was 6 months between doing the workshop at AFTRS to actually editing the podcasts, it took me hours upon hours to edit each episode. I think I spend 8 hours on each one. Now, I’ve got it down to about 1-2 hours of editing for each episode, usually done at 6am on a Monday morning.
Almost 3 years later and over 150 episodes recorded, we finally have a library of information that anyone can access for free, in their own time, at the time that they need, to gain some inciteful knowledge about all the different facets related to buying, selling, renting and investing in Melbourne real estate. We have created some amazing connections through our experts and listeners. We get great feedback about what’s been helpful from both the public and agents. And in the end, that is all that matters. We’ve helped the Melbourne public and the Melbourne property sector discover new things about Melbourne real estate and empowered them with knowledge.
Unfortunately, Grant realised how much work was involved and decided to depart after Episode 12, to ensure he had time for his young family who need him. And while we thought we would get tens of thousands of listeners, get advertisers begging to be on the podcast, and raking up a passive income like Joe Rogen, the reality is very different. The objective for the podcast still remains – to help people buy, sell, rent and invest. A newer objective after Grant left, was to build integrity in what we do as real estate copywriters. While we would spend approximately 8 hours a week writing, recording, editing and marketing the podcast between myself and Lisa, it’s been worth it. We have built up our integrity as real estate copywriters, we have expand the business through Covid over the last 2 and a bit years from just me, to Lisa in the office, and an additional two full time copywriters in Tom and Jess, with the hope to expand more.
I’m proud of my company, the podcast that is the foundation of what we represent and the professionalism of my staff. We have reached No 4 on the Apple Podcasts (Australia) How To podcasts, and regularly appear in the Top 40, which is a huge achievement. I hope you love our podcast as much as we do, and find something, just something, that helps you on your real estate journey, as it has done for so many others.
Real Estate Right podcast can be listened to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Podbean and wherever you listen to your podcasts.