Story Telling or Story Selling?

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 1.04.13 PMTake a moment to think about your home. What comes to mind? Think far beyond the floors, ceilings, and furniture. Whether it is a dorm room, an apartment, the structure forcing you to have a mortgage loan over the next thirty years, or simply the place you grew up with a white picket fence, each one harnesses specific memories and has its own unique story to share. The thoughts of an apartment could evoke memories of college life, living with roommates, throwing parties instead of studying for finals, and that insanely uncomfortable futon in the living room. On the other hand, a childhood home could conjure feelings of comfort and security when thinking about playing football with dad or mom’s fresh-baked apple pie.

As an intern for a local real estate agent, Patrick Gahagan, who is a UNCW Communication Studies alum, I am learning narrative is at the core of selling homes. Each prospective buyer has his or her own story, which encompasses the place they currently live, the place they grew up, and thus influences their ideal home. One of the biggest challenges a real estate agent faces is gaining a solid understanding of each client’s needs for a new home and finding the perfect place for them. Are they yearning for a cozy place that reminds them of their childhood home? Would an apartment that reminds them of their college days when life was far less stressful be best? Or does the buyer want to keep his or her past homes out of mind and find something new? Buyers must be able to see themselves in a home before they can begin to consider taking out a loan that could keep them in debt for 30 years. Therefore, the real estate agent must craft a story to sell homes.

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Given real estate agents work for commission, it is critical to master the art of story selling. Professional photos with the perfect lighting, and statistics regarding value and square footage, combine with the home tour to compose a narrative for each home on the market. In real estate, photos, stats, and the home’s structure are all rhetorical tools. A real estate agent’s job is to combine these rhetorical elements using the appropriate language to create a powerful story that will attract prospective buyers. The way in which a real estate agent uses rhetoric to frame a home essentially makes or breaks the sell. Sounds like marketing, doesn’t it? If the real estate agent composed an impactful narrative for the home, the buyers will likely proceed to make an offer and the agent is on their way to getting paid.

In the world of real estate, stories are not simply told, but sold.

By: Meleah, Amanda, Kendall, Luke, and Dan

2 thoughts on “Story Telling or Story Selling?

  1. I thought this article was very interesting. I have never had to contribute to the process of buying an actual house, however when finding an apartment to live in here in Wilmington, it was definitely a matter of which apartment complex told the best story of how I envisioned my life here. They tried appealing to the GATED community, social scene, and comfort of living before having to really go over the other details. I have been consciously aware that story selling is how businesses sell their products, however this article made me think of story selling with bigger products such as a house.

    • Daley, You are absolutely right! Apartment complexes are notorious for selling their stories. For example, Carolina Cove and Progress 910 are marketed solely to college students, whereas other apartments are not. I chose to live in my current apartment complex because I was highly impressed with the tour and the communication from the staff. I could envision my life at my apartment complex before I moved in. I will graduate in May and will be in search of a new apartment. I will no longer be looking for student housing. Instead, I will be focused on finding a more “grown up” apartment. The one thing that remains the same is the importance of brand narrative. Apartment complexes each have their own stories and and there is a specific story I am looking to fulfill. In the world of real estate, it’s all about figuring out the happy ending your client wants and selling them that story.

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