How can real estate agents leverage great press about their city?

Use the highlights of your market to find buyers their perfect neighborhood, or attract leads to your listing

It seems like every other day there’s a list of American cities circulating the internet for one reason or another, whether it be their undeniable charm, breezy commute or delicious tacos. As a real estate agent, how can you leverage great press about your market to help clients and boost business?

We spoke with Rebecca Thomson, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and VP of agent development at large independent Chicago brokerage @properties, after the Windy City got ranked in January by Timeout’s inaugural City Index (based on a 20,000 participant survey) as the “most fun” city in the world, beating out tough competition including Paris, London, Los Angeles and Miami. Thomson said the honor could serve as a talking point and resource in agents’ conversations with buyers and sellers.

“The recognition itself is not what makes Chicago desirable, it’s an indication of a trend,” Thomson said. “Like Amazon looking at Chicago because it is an accessible, affordable, urban environment where there is a great quality of life.”

For example, Chicago ranked highly for its interesting neighborhoods. The media company identified those types of neighborhoods that proved to be “a varied and characterful galaxy of neighborhoods, rather than cookie-cutter residential zones around a central urban core … it means more interesting places to live, and for those bored of downtown, fun new areas to explore.”

Timeout flagged Chicago neighborhoods such as Logan Square, Boystown, Irving Park, Roscoe Village, Edgewater and shopping locations in Andersonville, Humboldt Park, Lakeview and South Loop that help make Chicago such an enjoyable place to live. Chicago ranked first for having “great places walking distance from my home” and came in second for people who “love exploring different parts of the city.”

Affordability was another area where Chicago shone — the average income people described as comfortable was 10 percent lower than the average wage, while for cities such as New York, London and Singapore, a comfortable income was more like 20 percent higher than the average. Chicago also won top ratings for food and drink. Moreover, a night out in Chicago, relative to the local average salary, was the cheapest over any of the cities — 4.5 percent of weekly income compared to the more common 7 percent elsewhere. What does all this amount to for those considering moving to the city, or to a new location within it?

“[Chicago] is beyond affordable especially compared to coastal cities,” Thomson said. “The median sales price in December 2017 was $267,000. When you tell people from New York or San Francisco that, their jaws drop.” You can live at a much more affordable price point and still be around the same things that are important to people, such as financial markets, tech, and culture, museums and theaters, she added. And that’s the story agents can be telling buyers.

Specifically, agents should be talking to clients about what aspects of a city are important to them, perhaps drawing from some of the criteria drummed up by the press attention. When talking to clients, Thomson advises agents to ask them about their interests — does their lifestyle revolve around food and drink, a certain kind of restaurant, or walkability to local stores? “When working with a buyer, how am I working with this client to understand who they are?” she said.

Meanwhile, these kinds of accolades can help an agent market a listing for their client, according to Thomson.

For an agent listing a property, for instance, the positive attention points to what residents (and potential buyers) think is important, so consider how you position the listing to attract buyers looking for these features. At @properties, listing agents create a special report, using mapping software and a proprietary tool @turf, which allows them to overlay on the map certain restaurants, shops, schools, specific neighborhood features they think might appeal to house hunters, said Thomson.

Article by Gill South

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