A listing for a lemon of a house has turned into sweet, sweet lemonade.
The description of a decrepit home on Avoca Avenue in Zephyrhills, FL, that was listed for $69,000 mixes scathing accuracy and a serious sense of humor.
The tongue-in-cheek presentation has paid off in a big way. The listing of the woebegone home has racked up hundreds of thousands of page views, and what’s more, an offer is now in place.
“I find it so funny, because my husband always told me that I don’t tell good jokes, and I tell him I’m like the funniest person I know. This has just been the greatest vindication. Everybody keeps calling and texting and emailing saying that they thought it was hilarious,” says Philippa Main, the listing agent responsible for the property description that people can’t stop sharing.
We spoke with Main about her savvy marketing skills, and have highlighted a few of our favorite passages of her lively prose.
‘Here it is, literally the worst house on the street!
‘The seller has done the hard work of cleaning up the almost half-acre property (it only took 7 dumpsters!), so now is your chance to take it from here.’
The idea for a listing description that faced the home’s ugliness head-on came to Main after seeing the property for the first time and discussing the reality of the situation with her client.
Both of them had hoped that the home would be in a sellable state after the tenants moved out and the lot was cleaned up. The reality was far different.
So Main, who majored in public relations in college, approached her client and suggested a way to get some eyes on the listing.
She knows that listing details sometimes stretch the truth, and she also knows all about the frustration generated by unmet expectations—for home shoppers and agents alike.
“The funniest and the most annoying part of being a real estate agent: If we see in a listing they’re describing this ‘great natural light’ or this ‘open-concept floor plan’ or ‘tons of storage,’” Main says. “We get there, and it’s, like, a single, creepy lightbulb you would see in one of those interrogation movies. And that’s it.”
She decided to embrace the dark side of this Sunshine State calamity.
“I just wanted to make sure that I got ahead of all of the questions about the condition, and just kind of put it all out there for everybody,” she notes.
‘The roof leaks, the floor creaks, and there’s a terrible draft, but this 3 bed, 1.5 bath home is very open concept. And by that we mean the inside is open to the outside, because several of the windows are broken.’
The “open-concept” crack is something Main doesn’t take all the credit for. Her inspiration came from an unlikely source, “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
“There’s an episode where SpongeBob and Squidward do Opposite Day, and so SpongeBob’s version of selling the home is pointing out all of the worst things about it,” she says. “As soon as I walked into this property, I heard it in my head, and I was, like, ‘Oh, here we go!’ I sat down and kind of approached the listing with that kind of sense of humor, and the absurdity of the whole situation.”
‘There is a large, sunny window in the kitchen … and absolutely nothing else—a wonderful feature for someone interested in a bright reading space (and ordering takeout for every meal).’
The kitchen description came to her after the overzealous junk haulers took a bit too much off the property, which once housed old mattresses, old TVs, hundreds of tires, and much more. They were told to take everything away.
“When I walked into the home, I didn’t realize that, for some reason, the junk guys had taken things very literally,” Main says.
“They took out all the kitchen cabinets. I’ve seen kitchens missing a lot of things, but this kitchen has one positive element that I can highlight, and that is it.”
‘Now I know you’ve heard of a detached garage, but have you ever heard of a detached foundation?! Because that’s what you’ll find here in the large bonus room. And if you’re looking for a house that screams, “I’ve got bizarre and ominous energy!” then, honey, stop the car, because you’ve found it right here, conveniently located off of US-301.’
The major foundation problems and the location near a major highway were two pieces of information Main says that she really needed to convey to potential buyers.
“I feel like this has gone viral and a lot of people are laughing at just kind of the surface level,” she says. “But I actually did try to include important details for those who are truly interested.”
‘And whether you like to turn up the heat or keep it cool, it won’t matter here, because there is no HVAC system.’
Main says the lack of a heating and cooling system is crucial information for any potential investor to know, since it is a must-have in Florida and constitutes a huge expense.
‘Oh, and don’t forget about the brick chimney that perfectly epitomizes how we all feel after 2020—about to collapse and going nowhere (literally, there is no fireplace inside the house).’
A chimney without a fireplace?
“I looked and I couldn’t find inside where there was a fireplace,” Main says, adding that it’s difficult to ignore the crumbling chimney when walking around the property.
“When you actually go in the home, you realize: ‘What is even the point of this chimney?'” she says. “I just feel like it adds to the whole ominous energy. Like, ‘Why is it here?’ And you’ve got to throw a reference to 2020 in there, because why the heck not?”
‘What else can be said about this one-of-a-kind opportunity? It’s not in a flood zone and will be conveyed with clear title! But we don’t have a survey and the Seller has never seen the property, so buyers are strongly encouraged to do their own due diligence.’
Main says her client signed off on the listing, and she made sure it was compliant with the requirements of all local and national organizations.
My clients “are so laid-back. They’re such fun guys. They were basically, like, ‘This is so funny, this is great! We’re happy that it’s getting the attention.’ But at the end of the day, their whole thing was they knew I would get it sold, one way or another,” she says.
‘And if you’re not interested in crying yourself to sleep every night while you rehab this home, might we suggest tearing it down and building a brand-new one in its place? The neighbors would likely thank you.’
Evidently, the publicity worked. After fewer than 10 days on the market, there’s a pending offer. Main was not at liberty to disclose whether the buyers do plan to cry themselves to sleep every night with a rehab or please the neighbors with a teardown.
Main is taking in stride her newfound fame as the author of what some are calling the best listing description. Her sense of humor hasn’t taken a dent.
“My phone started ringing off the hook,” she says, “and I was just, like, ‘What is happening?’ I will tell you this: I would never want to be a famous person, because this is a lot of work.”