For sale: Horrible home

You have to appreciate a real estate agent who sells a house by writing an ad like this:

The bottom of the barrel! I have avoided listing this one as long as possible, since it will take a miracle to sell. Sure, it has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and an oversized lot in a desirable Plymouth neighborhood. But beyond this, there's nothing else that's positive.

As part of a series of marketing savvy real estate agents, Realtor magazine, whose audience is the real estate industry, just did a story on Harry Ackley, a Coldwell Banker Realtor in Plymouth, Michigan, who wrote the above ad in 2004. As Ackley told Realtor, he received permission from the seller before writing the listing, and he said that he wrote it that way because "the house was a complete disaster. Just saying, "fixer-upper" or "handyman special" was not going to get it done. I needed to do something drastic to sell this one."Yeah, like tell the truth, something most home sellers are kind of reluctant to do. I sure wouldn't want to write a truthful ad if I were selling my home right now... "...if you like your house smothered in cat fur and a garage door that doesn't work, please call..."

The truth, the cold, hard facts. It's just crazy enough that it might work. I do know that if I ever move to Plymouth, I'm looking Ackley up. Given his apparent stand on ethics, I'd want to buy a house from him, and I'd even want him to sell my own house if I were in the market. After all, the honesty of the ad attracted people who knew what they were getting but wanted it, anyway. It sold in just 17 days.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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