Topfeeding off the housing market

forsaleAfter my “buy their debt and take their house” bottomfeeding post from a couple of days ago, I think y’all need to see a more morally upstanding side of MoneyMateKate….

I know people who have come up with some not-so-obvious ways to make money servicing the current residential housing market. If you have either of these skills plus the time and interest to develop a lucrative sideline, feel free to poach their ideas for your area.

Real Estate Signage Posts

You know those (usually) wood posts or semi-frames you see stuck in someone’s lawn with the realtor’s “For Sale” sign on it? In a market with a lot of houses for sale or a fast turnover, agencies run out of posts. A friend of mine who knows how to drive a drill better than most went into business for 18 months making these posts, and for agencies who wanted a more comprehensive service, would service the signage once a week – putting them in, removing them, sticking a “sold” banner on them. This was a short-term opportunity, only viable in unusually hectic markets, and he just kind of stumbled across this service gap, when he heard more than one homeowner friend complain about going weeks without signage and missing out on the drive-by interest.
Start-up costs: $100 worth of wood and hardware
Suitable for:  Very hot and very cold suburban housing markets

Indoor Photography

Every week or two, my brother emails links to the half-dozen or so properties in Baltimore that meet his criteria. The one he put an offer in on a month ago (and lost based on desired closing date) had generated very little interest because of their unbelievably lousy online photos – sadly, the link no longer works or else I’d include them. My favorites were the “laundry area” – which showed a corner of the floor with a plug, the master bath – which was a picture of the toilet but apparently it had a massive 6-headed steam shower worth highlighting, and the other bathroom – literally, a picture of the shower drain. So while the house got two bids, they were both for 10% below asking when the Baltimore market usually sells much closer to the listing price (or so I’ve been told). My brother’s agent reckons that, had they put up better pictures, more interest would have been generated and they’d have easily gotten $10-15K more. While discussing this with my mom…okay, not so much discussing as laughing my ass off over the pictures of a drain and a wall socket…she told me that one of my sister’s friends just started up her own business doing photography and videography for the Aspen real estate market. Think: $10-20m mansions.

So if you’re good with a camera, good with perspective and lighting and all that good stuff, consider offering to do it for free for 2-3 people so you have some Their Pics v. My Pics comparisons to show agents and potential customers. Get in good with agents and agencies, make it clear what their piece of the pie will be (finder’s fee, percentage, etc), which they should especially appreciate in this buyers’ market, create a nice free website/blog and get some cheap business cards from Vistaprint.
Start-up costs:  $25 for domain name and business cards, coffee meetings with agents
Suitable for:  Apparently most places, though videography for virtual tours would only be at the high end


5 Responses

  1. Great ideas. I’m always surprised at some of the terrible photos realtors put on their sites. It certainly makes a big difference to have good quality pictures, and makes sense if you’re trying to sell your home.

  2. I’ve seen some awful photos too. I think there was a photo on Dr Bubble’s Housing blog recently from an actual listing – the photo of the bathroom included the unflushed toilet with a giant turd in it! Ewww. There is a couple on my dog forum who are professional architectural photographers, they take amazing photos. I think real estate photography could be a great business, most people online home shop these days.

  3. My husband has actually done the photo taking thing after he told our real estate agent people seriously need to learn how to take photos to sell their houses. Sounds like he should do this again to drum business.

  4. Both good ideas.

    When my wife and I were looking for a home we told our agent that the photos on most things out there were horrible.

    He made me an offer to come and do photos for a property that he was taking over from another agent that hadn’t been looked at in several months.

    Well after I did my photos and touched them up and got them off to the agent, he posted them on the listing and had the property sold in 1 month!!

    I made $200 for a total of 3 hours work: 2 for photography and 1 for editing.

    I’m with you and recommend this to anyone with some basic skills, a good eye and a camera.

  5. I wish I were good with a camera – I’ve certainly got the time to do something like this. It’s like I can come up with viable ideas for everyone but myself 😦

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