With the real estate market in the doldrums -- and many agents leaving the business because of it -- getting those left to come to Realtor open houses has become an art of one-upmanship.
We've seen catered affairs that put weddings to shame, live music, and gourmet cakes in the shape of the house
decorated with the listing agent posed in front -- all in the name of luring real estate agents to stop by and walk through a new listing on the market (and hopefully go find a buyer for it).
The latest over-the-top entry in the race to stage the most-memorable open house comes from Malibu Prudential Realty agent Michael Gardner
, who at an Oct. 18 agents open house of a $8.495 million Beverly Hills listing
is raffling off $300 worth of Botox treatments; having an Audi dealer on-site to provide test drives of the 2012 A8; and providing Thai foot massages poolside. There will also be a gourmet food truck to feed the hungry agents and facials for those who want them.
Agents will be invited to bring a client, says Gardner, who is hoping for a huge turnout and we suspect will get it.
"Absolutely yes, we are trying to push the envelope," Gardner said. He said that there are often too many houses on caravan for an agent to see during the four-hour open house window. "If they are going to pick and choose, I want them to pick and choose this one."
Gimmicky? "Yep," he says. Serving great food has always been an important part of getting agents to a listing, he said, "but we wanted to go further. We look at ourselves not just as agents, but as promoters, and want agents -- if not attending -- at least talking about this."
Gardner says that he got the idea of partnering up with local businesses when he visited a few gifting suites at the Emmys and Oscars last year and saw companies give away things to celebrities. "I started thinking about how I could pair businesses with agents and wanted my open house on caravan to be more like the gifting suites."
And if this doesn't work, will he up the bar? "I'm thinking about having attractive women rolling cigars, golf-swing lessons and a wine-tasting bar."
Gardner has co-listed the property with Nikki Hochstein, also of Prudential Realty.
As for the home, here's what the agents will be looking at, as per the MLS: An 8,000-square-foot Mediterranean with great views and total privacy, located near Beverly Park. There is an oversize pool and 12-person spa. The home has a grand two-story entryway, wood-paneled library, gourmet kitchen with a six-burner Viking range, as well as marble archways, limestone floors and lots of fireplaces.
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