What would the Beatles do? Sell it, by George

Friday, December 23, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 51

In all things music, there is always a Nashville connection. And in all things anything, there is always a Beatle connection, especially as it pertains to the selling of residential real estate.

In order to understand the similarities, one must first have a working knowledge of the Beatles. The Beatles were led by a young man named John Lennon who, in July 1957, teamed with Paul McCartney. They were joined the following February by George Harrison. They called themselves the Quarrymen, and were as raw and unpopular as bands went. They found it virtually impossible to find work, just as some houses are never shown.

Yet, John Lennon had a goal to have the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world. In order to sell a residential property in this market, it has to the best house in the history of the world – at least to the buyer.

Most properties begin their marketing as the Beatles did. They were unkempt, raunchy, and driven. As Malcolm Gladwell noted in his bestselling book Outliers, the Beatles spent 10,000 hours (his number) honing their craft in Hamburg, Germany, before achieving modest success. Before placing a house on the market, there may be as many as 10,000 tasks to complete, or so it seems.

It was in Hamburg, where they were forced to play seven days a week in the most awkward of circumstances, that they created their sound. They played songs by the Everly Brothers, Elvis, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Motown, as well as popular British acts. By melding those influences, they created a sound that was pleasing to a diverse audience. Back to real estate, the house must appeal to a wide market with flexible design.

And the Beatles understood the need for agency and hired a manager, Brian Epstein, who immediately gave them a new appearance. Even though they were uncomfortable wearing suits and ties during their performances, they agreed to do so. In real estate, hire a Realtor and do what they say.

If the Beatles had appeared on Ed Sullivan with their greasy hair, leather pants, black T-shirts and black leather jackets, you would not be reading this column today. Sellers should make their house attractive to all genres. While most hate to admit it, parents had to approve the Beatles and often must approve houses for their children.

The Beatles would never have been on the Ed Sullivan show if Brian Epstein had handled their careers in the manner in which some Realtors manage their listings. As you will recall, the Beatles wanted to be the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world, and a house must be the greatest house in the world in order to sell.

The Beatle first record was a song called Love Me Do. It rose to No. 17 on the IK charts, but Capitol records, the US affiliate of the Beatles record company, EMI, would not release Love Me Do in the States. Having a top 20 hit was not their goal, so they decided to write a better song and came up with Please, Please Me. It went to No. 1 in England, but Capitol wouldn’t take it for US release. So they tried a different approach and wrote and recorded She Loves You, which became a hit in all of Europe.

This is somewhat akin to having open house in which everyone loves the house but there are no offers. The Realtor feedback forms states the house is lovely and should sell – some day to someone, but not their clients. That response is not acceptable if you want to have the greatest house in the world. Sellers and their agents must do what the Beatles did. They have to write I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Beatles producer George Martin listened to the playback and said, “I knew they (Capitol records) couldn’t run that one down.” And they didn’t. Sellers must make the house such that “they can’t run that one down.”

Richard Courtney is a broker with Pilkerton Realtors. He is the co-author of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com.