Vol 6 No. 46 -August 9, 2006
Actors portray families
in model homes
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Shakespeare wrote, "All the worlds a stage
and all the men and women merely players," a concept some
real estate marketers have extended to selling the family home.
And what better way to sell a home to families than to have
real life families in it, sort of living breathing furniture.
Sounds crazy, maybe, but an advertising and public relations
firm in Los Angeles came up with the idea of placing actors
in model homes portraying a family. Its called Homelife
and the actors dont just sit around on the pretend furniture.
They actually pretend to be a family with kids, games, toys
right down to spilling coffee on the carpeting and greeting
you when you come in.
Centex Builders, which does a lot of building in Florida, some
right here in Manatee County, has tested the concept in some
of its Texas and California communities. A Santa Clarita, Calif.,
community has also set up a production which has become a form
of community entertainment, in addition to a marketing tool
attracting curiosity seekers and the press.
Staging a home for sale is not a new idea, the principal is
to encourage buyers to mentally move into the home and persuade
them to linger so that a lasting impressing is made. Real estate
agents have always offered advice to their clients on getting
a home ready for sale. Everything from new paint and carpeting
to removing the kids water colors from the refrigerator. In
addition, in recent years professional staging services have
become popular to help homeowners rearrange furniture, accessorize,
eliminate clutter and neutralize homes to broaden the appeal
When I marketed corporate relocation properties for relocation
companies, we utilized the services of marketing managers in
some of the high end properties. The idea being that a nicely
decorated home with real people living in it will warm up the
property and show better to prospective buyers.
However, adding professional actors into the marketing mix could
be a turn off by reducing the home buying experience to a spectacle.
This is especially true if the potential buyers are not a family
and cant relate to the actors, or more likely, if the
actors become a distraction. Its an interesting concept
that could ultimately work against the sale.
The publication relations firm and the builders who have created
and tried Homelife feel its successful resulting in sales.
They point out that not all the model homes in a community are
populated with actors, and they dont go as far as hanging
clothes in the closets. The idea is to create something more
memorable than the competition and increase traffic through
the communities, which apparently has worked.
Employing actors to depict family members is like staging on
steroids, but in a slow real estate market, whatever works works.
It would sure be fun to see some of Manatee Countys builders
try the Homelife system. It would get their communities noticed
and employ a few out of work actors. I guess all the world really
is a stage, curtain going up.
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