When Saint John real estate agent Jake Palmer got a call from the Wall Street Journal, he thought someone was pulling his leg.
And then the calls started pouring in from media outlets from across North America wanting to know why he would list a home in downtown Saint John, New Brunswick, as “Not Haunted.”
What started out as humour and unconventional marketing soon leapt into the world of social media. Before long, Palmer was telling his stories to listeners and readers in Canada and the U.S.
“This house was kind of an ideal spot to try this for a few reasons, partly because of the (young) demographic that it is going to attract, the location and also because the sellers have a really good sense of humour. They were really excited at the idea of trying something new,” Palmer, an agent with Re/Max, told Torstar News Service Wednesday.
Other descriptors on the sign in front of the 68-year-old home have included: “Indoor Plumbing; Love Shack, Baby; It’s a Brick, House; No Dandelions; Fog Resistant; Batteries Included.”
All this and more for $197,900.
“I was told when I did this there is no place for humour in real estate,” he said.
Palmer, who has been selling homes for three years, said while his approach has received a lot of attention, the home still hasn’t sold.
He explained in part that’s because it was sold earlier but the buyer backed out of the deal at the last moment and forfeited her five per cent down deposit. He even had a photo of the owners Ray and Kim Seaward on his website standing beside the sold sign.
“I had a sold sign up there for a month and then just a couple of weeks before closing I took the sign down and then I had to put a for sale sign back up. So everyone assumes that there is something wrong with the house and it almost becomes a stigmatized listing.”
That’s when Palmer decided it was time to have a little fun and liven things up.
“Then we got talking about some unorthodox things that we could do to drive traffic. I had a sign made up some time ago as a joke that said Indoor Plumbing and they loved the idea.”
So did the folks around Saint John and they put photos of the sign on their Facebook sites.
“When the Wall Street Journal called I thought it was a crank call,” he said.
The house may not be haunted but it does have an interesting history.
Palmer said he was told by previous owners that it was a lottery home built in 1944 by the Knights of Columbus with the proceeds going to the war effort. And as a result, it has many extra features, including two bathrooms, a large master bedroom and a garage.
Palmer would not divulge what next week’s message will be, but added it will attract as much attention as the previous ones and that hopefully a couple in their late twenties or early 30s will love the house as much as his funny lines.
Will he do it again for another home?
“I probably won’t do it because it’s only funny the first time around.”