Visit open house, win iPad: Marco Island homeowner raises the bar for marketing individual homes

Ken Mitchell, center, talks with his guests. Ken and Linda Mitchell of Laurel Court raised the bar for real estate open houses Thursday, offering refreshments including an open bar, live music, and door prizes including two iPad Minis to attendees.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Ken Mitchell, center, talks with his guests. Ken and Linda Mitchell of Laurel Court raised the bar for real estate open houses Thursday, offering refreshments including an open bar, live music, and door prizes including two iPad Minis to attendees. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Ken Mitchell really wants to sell his “pad,” a waterfront home on Laurel Court. So, to entice Realtors and interested buyers to come to his open house Thursday afternoon, he and his wife Linda sweetened the deal with the chance to win door prizes including two iPad Minis.

The affair also offered “heavy hors d’oeuvres” and an open bar, plus live music. Working with listing agent Dawn Kuhn of Premiere Plus Realty, Ken Mitchell said he wanted to borrow tried and true marketing techniques from other industries and apply them to local Marco Island homes.

With an asking price of $739,000 for the house, Mitchell said “all told, we spend about a thousand dollars,” and he considered it a great investment.

“That’s one seventh of one percent of the value of the property.” With a background as an engineer, architect, and CEO, he said he has always in essence been in marketing, as is everybody, whether they realize it or not. “I understand how to sell a product.”

“We are exploring a new way of marketing real estate on Marco Island by taking it to a new level,” said Kuhn in the invitation which went out to local real estate professionals.

Despite the favorable waterfront location and quick boating access, Ken Mitchell said that few realtors had set up showings of the home.

“I don’t know if it’s perception, because it’s an older home, but we wanted to get people in here to see for themselves,” he said. On Thursday afternoon, the weather was not cooperating fully, with leaden skies and intermittent rain dulling the long water view out the sliding doors and covered lanai.

Of course, that kept people out of the backyard, where they weren’t confronted with what must be considered to be, for the moment, the home’s biggest negative. The house next door has been the subject of Code Enforcement Board action, and some months ago, the board moved to seek an order to demolish it as an eyesore. A buyer would have to look down the road further than one rainy afternoon to see the Mitchell’s residence as the ultimate Marco Island dream home.

But that issue will be resolved, and the view from the Mitchell’s living room and pool deck will continue to be spectacular. And with several dozen visitors to the Thursday open house, the marketing strategy seemed to be bearing fruit.

“I have a client who might be interested,” said real estate agent Al Cohoon. “I probably wouldn’t have considered this home (before visiting the open house).” The updated three bedroom, three bath home has a wet bar, solar-heated pool, deepwater dock, boat lift, and paid-up sewer connection.

Gordon Bouchee was sold. He and his wife Lorrie won one of the iPads, with the other going to Robert Clausen. Cynthia Timerman was the winner of cooking lessons from Sur la Table.

As entertainer Kirk McFee played his last tune, Mitchell expressed satisfaction with the results.

“They walk in, they see the view. This turned out well,” he said.

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