April 17, 2012

Three Real Estate Tricks to Help Your Online Dating Profile

Recently a couple friends asked me to take a look at their online dating profiles and give some feedback. "What's wrong with it?" they asked. One woman could tell that men had checked out her profile but hadn't shown any interest by sending her emails or online flirts. The other mentioned that no one had looked at hers in a while.
From the looks of their profiles, there was nothing wrong at all. Both had cute pictures. They both seemed smart, fun, and liked to travel.

How could I help? I thought back to three lessons I learned, not from dating, but from real estate.
Little known secret about me: I'm a bit of a real estate nerd. My interest goes back to the early days when my best friend's mom dragged us to all her listings. Then I inherited my first property when I was 18. Instant landlord.
Love for real estate multiplied.
I'm lucky to be married to a man who enjoys our weekly game play of "guess the listing price" while we tour several open houses on Sunday afternoons. He even likes working on houses with me.
Last year, we spent six weeks in Portland, Oregon prepping two houses that I'd owned for a dozen years or so. We were selling in a tough market, but both homes sold in a snap. One house even found a buyer in less than a DAY.
I give the credit to my realtor, Toni Mikel, a no-nonsense badass who grew up in the real estate business and swore she'd never be a realtor herself. (Hey, sometimes we can't help but be great at what fate tempts us with.) She defies every realtor stereotype, forgoing those hairspray-helmet-looking bobs and pearly baubles and instead dons unassuming jeans and a cute top. She probably has a couple tattoos.
What I'm certain of is that she's the smartest realtor among the hundreds I've met over the years. Toni's advice on selling our homes was paramount. She made our listings stand out among the rest. Not only that, she helped me apply her lessons to dating and relationships - a bad habit that I'm hoping somehow helps you. From those lessons, are these: Three secrets that I learned about home selling that anyone can apply to their online dating profile.

Invest in your product - and then in great pictures

Ready for sale! Beautiful - and smells clean and fresh!
I was always raised with the attitude that you leave something nicer than you found it. I can't say the same for my renters. When we first arrived in Portland, both homes were disgusting, having been rented to people with big, stinky, dirty dogs. I could smell the dogs before even entering the house. It was so gross. And I was terrified. What have they done to my gorgeous homes? Nothing a little sprucing couldn't fix (okay, a LOT of sprucing).
We spent six weeks prepping both homes. The houses got fresh paint throughout and were spiffed with flattering landscaping and new light fixtures. One house got a new roof. Another got brand new carpeting. Both were staged just enough to make the main rooms look good and give an idea of depth, spacing, and cleanliness. Neither was overdone. Just simple enough to look inviting.
custom tile in the entryway
Warm, welcoming living room

We had one of the northwest's best industrial artists, Brian King, come design tilework for our front porch, the foyer, and the hearthstone in front of the fireplace. (Brian also happens to be a good friend of mine, so we wanted his personal touch involved somehow).

Just the right amount of fresh paint and yard work
In some ways, Toni probably thought we were doing too much work, but we didn't want to leave Portland feeling as if we could have done just a little extra work to nab a buyer. That's just the way my personality works. I have to admit, I've felt the way about all my relationships; I never wanted to walk away without feeling like I'd given it my all.

Toni kept emphasizing that we MUST put the most focus on what will flatter our homes in pictures.

In real estate, good pictures lure buyers to GO VISIT.
Same thing for online profiles. If someone likes your picture, they will want to see you IN PERSON.

Showcase your best features with detailed descriptions

What makes you different? And how specific can you be?
large living room in my 1978 high ceiling home

When we decided to sell these houses, it was time to highlight their features. Each had its own unique qualities.
One had some cool, funky aspects to it that's common in homes built in the 70s. Instead of hiding those qualities, we made them stand out. We boasted about its high ceilings, wide windows, and the natural light that flowed throughout. We emphasized the home's open concept kitchen/living/dining area, which is popular among buyers these days.

Bathroom in my 1943 cottage

The other home was a cute, charming cottage with lots of original charm from the 40s, including those cute crystal doorknobs, the original double-paned windows with pulleys, and a beautiful wide arch transitioning from the kitchen to the dining room. The bathroom even had the original cast iron tub, tiles, and sink.

Each home would cater to a different buyer.

Like those homes, you have your unique qualities too.
One size doesn't fit all. Highlight what's unique about you. And be specific.

For instance, you might be tempted to list "travel" as one of your interests. But lots of people love to travel. How has your traveling shaped who you are?

One of my friends posted something like this about her travel:

I travel a lot for work. I love the Canary Islands and I had a great time in Brazil. I also want to go to Chile and someday would love to go to Australia.

Not bad. We get the idea - you've been able to travel a lot.  Way better than just saying, "I love to travel," right? But what if there what if there's even more details about why the Canary Islands are so awesome? Think about the quick stories and details you can share. Did you find yourself wandering into a neighborhood where locals invited you in their home for dinner? Did you meet a 100 year old man who danced with you past midnight? Did you eat a cockroach? Did you actually like it? Here's an idea of how I would suggest zazzing up the travel-lover's profile:

I've been spoiled with one of those supersized 50-page passports for my job. On my work's dime, I've dipped my toes in the Aegean Sea. I've danced in the fire circles in Rwanda. And I hope someday to  take a long vacation, cash in some savings, and finally pet a lion while on an African safari.

See the difference?
Try to apply this idea of small details and stories to the rest of your profile. It doesn't need to be a long, annoying story. Just try to give some more details instead of adjectives, since we all think of them differently. For instance, the word "blue" might bring a different color to your mind than mine.

You could have thought of this color, when really I was meaning this one.

Adjectives can lack the details you want. For instance, if you're looking for someone "smart, funny, and kind" - that could be anyone. But if you're to say you want someone "who has the brains of Malcolm Gladwell, the wit of John Stewart and the heart of Tony Robbins," that paints a different picture than if you were to say you wanted someone "as smart as your mechanic who can always translate your car's funny noises into a prescription, as funny as Jack Black (in School of Rock - not Nacho Libre) and as sweet as your uncle who always calls you 'Puddin'."
Both descriptions give a very different vision of who you are.

Remove, Revise, Relist

Okay, so let's say you have the world's best profile with amazing pictures and details that would make anyone say, "I WANT YOU," and still - no bites. Here's a lil' realtor trick that will put you back at the top of the stack.

First step - Save a backup of your profile somewhere on your computer.
Step two - DELETE. Yes, take your profile off that site. Your profile's been gathering virtual dust for weeks and it needs something new. Take it down.
Step three - Check for revisions. Have you taken up a new hobby in the past few weeks? Taken any new pictures? In the real estate world, this would be the time when sellers will drop the price, make updates on the house and take new pictures, or just sit tight. Or sometimes they won't make any changes. And if you choose to do so, no worries. Because what's most important is...
Step four - Relist. This will put you back on the site as a "new member," which will get you more views in the first few hours than you've been getting in the last two weeks. Savvy profile hunters will remember you from before. As for the rest, they'll think you're new to the online scene and won't realize that you're already a pro. You sneaky snake.

Hopefully that leads to your final/first step - the first date. Remember, online sites are great for searching, but it's important to meet in real life for a meet-and-greet. Get out of the chatroom and into the coffee house. And let me know how it goes.

I'm happy to take a look at the profiles of the first twenty people who email me: 31datesin31days@gmail.com

Happy dating!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I love this. FABULOUS advice. :)

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