Buy + Sell

Innovative ways to shop real estate

Once upon a time, shopping for a new home involved picking up the latest copy of the Multiple Listing Service’s latest magazine. But thanks to a hot real estate market, it is now easier — and more fun — to shop for a home whenever and wherever you want. Some people are even taking cruises to shop for waterfront homes.

For those who want to shop on the go, real estate firms like John L. Scott offer a free mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android that includes a feature-rich interactive map with GPS, voice-enabled location searches, searches by MLS and property numbers, road and satellite map views, property photo slide shows; driving directions, a mortgage calculator, and more.

_MG_5580Realtor Marti Reeder, a managing broker with John L. Scott’s Kent-Covington-Maple Valley office, has been using the app for more than a year. In addition to promoting the app on her website and social media accounts, she does mailings to clients and prospects that include a business card-sized card with instructions on how to download the app. Because the app includes a unique URL, she can track how many times it’s downloaded.

“In a hot real estate market with limited inventory that’s always changing, the app is an easy way for people to shop for a new home. Not only does the app have tons of handy features, but it is regularly updated with the status of a home, including recent price changes,” Reeder said. “It is particularly helpful for younger buyers who do almost everything on their smartphones already.”

For a guided experience, firms like Morrison House Sotheby’s International Realty in Gig Harbor are getting creative. Last fall, Michael Morrison, designated broker/owner of Morrison House Sotheby’s International Realty, started doing Art and Home floating tours to take prospective homebuyers on boat tours to showcase waterfront properties in the Gig Harbor area. This wasn’t simply a boat tour of waterfront homes, though. It was an extravagant experience complete with Champagne, light bites, and artwork from local artist Martha Reisdorf. Sales from the artwork were donated to the NW Furniture Bank, a nonprofit in Tacoma that provides furniture to those in need.

_MG_5601Morrison repeated the Art and Home floating tour in spring, chartering a boat from Destiny Harbor Tours, and inviting partners like the Tacoma Yacht Club, Nordstrom, NW Furniture Bank and South Sound magazine to participate. Morrison said the homes range in price starting from $400,000 and as high as $4.6 million for a waterfront Fox Island home on 20 acres.

Jeff Grill of Ocean Shores was among the guests on the spring boat tour. While Grill owns an oceanfront home already, he attended the event with a friend who is a John L. Scott agent in Ocean Shores. Grill was scouting out waterfront properties in Gig Harbor.

“This is such a gorgeous place to live. I enjoy the scenery,” Grill said. “Believe it or not, the beach gets boring day after day.” Morrison said he hopes to do more tours, at least once a year.

“In the past, we did the Art and Home event at a single property. Logistically, it was great and served a lot of the same purposes, but it was always fitting everything into one property,” Morrison explained. “Doing a floating tour gets exposure for multiple properties instead of just one or two.”

The primary reason Morrison hosts the tour is to get additional exposure for more sellers and to leverage every marketing dollar for listings.

“If we are going to promote listings, let’s also do client appreciation and generate money for charity,” he added. “Floating tours serve multiple goals.”

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