Kurt Opray and Northcote House

Social media expert Kurt Opray, who used Twitter and a blog to sell attract interest in his house, which sold well above reserve. Photo Mal Fairclough

A social media expert who used Twitter and Facebook campaigns to market his home sold the property for $135,000 above its reserve price by capitalising on knowledge no agent has: personal experience of living in the property.

Owner Kurt Opray used Twitter and a blog to generate interest in his Californian bungalow in the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

He put the Andrew Street home on the market six weeks before the February 11 auction and ran his own campaign alongside that of agents Hocking Stuart Northcote.

He bought domain name northcotehouse.com.au, set up a WordPress blog, made two YouTube videos and a Picasa photo page.

All are Google-owned companies, which increased the chance of his blog turning up in Google searches for homes in Northcote.

The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home had a $920,000 reserve. It sold for $1,055,000, which is 33 per cent above the suburb’s median price.

Mr Opray founded data communication business Impact Data 10 years ago to target audiences through new media.

Selling agent Rob Elsom, director of Hocking Stuart Northcote, said the auction drew about 80 people – 30 per cent more than expected. Four bidders quickly excluded other hopefuls.

“It was an average house on a good-sized block,’’ Mr Elsom said.

“It’s still raw for us – the take-up and interest was astounding.’’

Hocking Stuart is now examining social media’s selling potential.

Twitter and Google drove traffic to the blog, which told buyers what it was like to live in the house.

“I know my house better than any agent. Who better to sell the house than me?’’ Mr Opray said.

Regular blog posts drip-fed a first-hand conversation about nearby playgrounds and cafes. Photos taken months earlier showed off grapevines at their best in autumn colours and the vendor showed off jasmine plants. Buyers were shown jasmine plants by the vendor.

Online tracking tools showed visits to the blog spiked the night before the auction, and people showed up to inspections after reading the blog.

“It’s crazy when you think about it, buyers rarely talk to the people who have already lived in the house and loved it,’’ Mr Opray said.

The industry doesn’t believe the internet will make traditional marketing by real estate agents redundant.

“Twitter can’t replace normal marketing, but it can increase interaction with buyers,’’ said Real Estate Institute of Victoria spokesman Robert Larocca.

The Australian Financial Review page

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