“Why are you still working in Cleveland?” I hear a lot from my NYC colleagues. Well, I’m from Cleveland, so why not sell real estate there too? Is it sexy and glamorous selling homes in CLE? Of course not (I have to drive a car). But there’s comfort in it (selling, not driving). My clients in Cleveland are not famous nor do they wish to be (okay, some do desire to become social media darlings); and most of them don’t have a lot of dough to drop on real estate, and the majority of the pads in CLE are not over-the-top. Yet, I’m very selective with whom I work for in Cleveland—and it has nothing to do with higher-end budgets or splashy, Gatsby-like manors. Over the last few years, I have continued to help Clevelanders, while aiding those few New York clients; it keeps me humble and more compassionate. And more importantly, the Mistake-by-the-Lake has also been a great incubator for making me more diverse, while enhancing my creativity for marketing. Yeah, that’s right. Cleveland, not NYC, has challenged me and fueled me to become more innovative in marketing properties—creating a personal style in real estate.
What do I mean by style?
Well, have you ever heard a song on the radio and knew the voice, even though you had never heard the tune before? Have you ever looked at a painting and knew who the artist was even though you had never seen the painting before? Have you ever channel surfed to a movie or show on TV and didn’t know who the director was, but its style was very Baz Luhrmann? As it turned-out, watching the credits, it was indeed a Baz production. That’s artistic style and voice. We don’t necessarily have “style” and “voice” in real estate. When a consumer views a property listing online, they don’t see the photos while reading the description and associate it with a particular real estate agent. That just doesn’t happen, ever—regardless if the city is NYC or CLE and that just fascinates me. So, I’ve set-out to create a “style” for listings in Cleveland. Now photos would be the easiest way for a broker/agent to establish “style,” but I’m no Annie Leibovitz of real estate photography. (My Instagram, @H917, lack of followers and “hearts” is proof of that). Most of us in real estate are not fantastic photographers, so we hire a handful of photographers to shoot our properties for us (in CLE & NYC). It’s kind-of hard to create a “personal” mode to call your own when the same group of photographers are used by everyone in the biz. Right?
So, I have focused on property descriptions, wondering how I could be more of an eloquent Edith Wharton with a hint of Fran Lebowitz in my field, but using my own 45 year-old voice of experience—in less than 200 words. It sure is easy to write a description for a property that has a bunch of bells and whistles, like in NYC. But honestly, writing about Dornbracht fittings, Portuguese marble countertops, Verona limestone baths and so on, is a bit boring at times. It’s the same broker babble, almost everywhere, for $wanky homes and condos. Everyone writes the same—about the finishes and doesn’t create a “mood” for buyers. On the flip-side, in CLE, the standard listing description: 3 bed, 2 bath, 2000 sq ft, updated electrical and so on, is also a bore that sounds-like a text message—without creating a “mood,” too. I take great pride in the challenge of listing the not-so sexy homes. I know buyers need to envision themselves in a home—with a bit of a push via words. The words need to sing to them—whether it is through history, music, art or even cooking kielbasa in a 1950s Formica laminate kitchen. I need to create a special tone–with a distinct style. And for the most part, it’s about a great hook—a tagline and then building on it without a lot of words, creating a certain story for each property. Hence, I decided to push that “description” envelope in Cleveland, taking on properties that have no “bells and whistles” or those that might have a few—yet are considered “lower-end” for the communities in which they are located. So homes in Cleveland have been my muses—regardless of their price-points. And more forthrightly, it’s been a challenge too, keeping descriptions under 200 words. I have been genuine, throwing my heart into each home I list in CLE, and seeing the beauty of each of them—even if others did not, while having a bit of fun. As a result, slowly, I have established a style—a voice, that says, “That’s a Bise property,” even if a few recognize it, for now. And that’s okay, because I’m still “mastering” style, finding my authentic voice… via real estate in CLE for a little bit longer.
Some of my Cleveland favorites (and they sold in less than a week):
1373 Warren Lakewood, Ohio Built 1914 (SOLD October 2015, $159,200.00)
“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort,” Jane Austin.
You’ll definitely feel the appeal of comfort the moment you walk-in the double-entry of your new home. Built in 1914, this Lakewood home is ideally located between Clifton and Detroit; a quick stroll to shopping and dining. When season 6 of DOWNTON ABBEY finally airs in the US you could entertain Edwardian-style: dining room hosts a window seat with leaded glass cabinets and French doors leading to the English cottage garden and brick patio. On Sundays throw one heck of a BBQ, cooking with your stainless steel appliances, watching the Browns win the Super Bowl. On chilly winter nights grab a book from your built-in shelves in the living room and read by the fireplace in your favorite chair. And when you’re feeling Zen this Spring, you could practice yoga in your Eastern facing second level sunroom. Have two cars? That’s swell, because your new home has a 2 car garage. Other notable features: Newer windows, glass block in basement, walk-in closets, neutral décor, first-floor mudroom, full bathroom on lower level, finished third floor. Home Warranty.
7638 Colvin Road Gate Mills, Ohio Built 1929 (December 2015, $299,900.00)
“IN THE PORTRAITS OF THAT HOUSE, THE WINDOWS ARE EYES OR PIECES OF THE SOUL” -Andrew Wyeth.
The enchantment of seeing resplendent details with masterly craftsmanship will make your sensitivity bend as you enter the solid oak door of THE STONE COTTAGE of GATES MILLS VILLAGE. You’ll want to share in the warm comfort that surrounds, pouring those closest to you small-batched bourbon in front of the stone fireplace with wrought-iron details and original lighting fixtures. Hospitality in your new abode can be formal in your dining room or casually intimate in the all granite kitchen with stainless appliances. The sun-lit artist studio on the first level will inspire your inner-Wyeth and could also be used as guest room with the adjacent full bathroom. Exposed stone in the master suite, reading nook and secret door leading to an additional closet and bedroom will delight even the most discreet. The finished lower-level adds nearly nine-hundred square feet of living space and a door leading to the magical, yet quaint, backyard and rambling stream. Additional enhancements to this endearing three bedroom, three and half bath home: Newer roof, furnace, central air, gutters and down spouts, windows.
3817 Wetzel Avenue Cleveland, Ohio Built 1953 (April 2017, $40,000.00)
Back when I-LIKE-IKE, bowling, and watching DRAGNET on your Zenith Flashmatic was the rage, so was the MINIMAL MODERN designed home of the 1950s, like this three bedroom bungalow on Wetzel Ave in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn Neighborhood. Inside is pretty much original with the exception of updated mechanicals, newer siding, windows and roof. Five rooms on the first level with full bath and two additional rooms with hardwood flooring on the second level. Super quick access to I-480, and it’s only a two minute drive to State Meats, for when you need to bring home the kielbasa. Full disclosure: the one car garage leans…a bit to the east; but hey, it’s a 1,362 sq ft house for $40K!
210 Normandy Drive Brunswick, Ohio Built 1974 (July 2017, $150,000.00)
THE HISTORY BOOK ON THE SHELF IS ALWAYS REPEATING ITSELF: Open and centralized living spaces with spacious rooms, originally made popular in the 1970s, is now hip again, kind-of like ABBA’s Waterloo. Why buy something new when you could own the original? Introducing 210 Normandy Drive, a 1974 ultra clean split-level home with an authentic lava rock fireplace, retro frock and foil walls, located in the Forest Hills subdivision of Brunswick, Ohio. Four bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, “conversation pit,” first floor laundry room, two and a half bathrooms, formal dining and living areas comprise 2200 square feet of groovy. Twenty-first century upgrades include a newer roof, furnace, hot water tank, vinyl siding, to name a few. Two pools and a tennis court are reserved for the new home owner too. Offered at $150K, the home will be conveyed “AS IS.”
(Yes, you read all of those prices correctly…)