Real estate agents go ‘overboard’ on marketing ploys

As the squeeze on property prices in the US continue even real estate agents at the top end of the market are using new devious marketing ploys to entice investors.

In Miami Beach agents selling a three acre waterfront lot for $13.9 million owned by Seth Gerszberg, a founder of the Ecko fashion brand, are pointing out that he plans to donate some of the profit to charity.

He paid $9 million for the unusually large plot with about 300 feet on the water in 2004. It has potential for three houses and for deepwater dockage. According to Sol Sotheby's International Realty he plans to donate the net proceeds to Tikva, a home for abandoned Jewish children in Ukraine.

In Louisiana, a $6 million 2,000 acre property is being linked to the 19th-century classic novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The claim is based on the property being part of a much larger cotton plantation owned in the mid-19th century by Robert McAlpin, whom local legend calls the inspiration for the novel's chief villain, Simon Legree.

The property was renamed Little Eva Plantation after the novel's main character, and the cabin of fictional slave Uncle Tom was said to have been on the site. State tourism and real-estate Web sites both claim the connection to the book.

Potential buyers might or might not be cheered by the claim. 'The truth is much less definitive than the real-estate declaration, but there may be some connection,' says Joan Hedrick, a biographer of author Harriet Beecher Stowe and a history professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's name creeps into the publicity about two so called 'trophy ranches' in Idaho owned by William Armsted Robinson, a founder of DHL Worldwide Express delivery.

He is one of Arnie's biggest donors and is asking for $17 million for his horse ranch and $15 million for a fishing property according to agent Roger Brink. However, the exotic Lusitano show horses that are bred at the ranch are not included in the sale.

'Marketing people always get excited when a well known historical event or a celebrity name can be attached to a property sale. After all it gets headlines and that is there job. But I am not sure that serious buyers pay much attention as much of it is overboard,' said Jamie Withinstall of London marketing agency, Wipe It All Out, which specialises in advising developers.