MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
In today's down market, realtors are trying whatever they can to sell homes. They are using social media, spending hours staging homes.
And as Caitlin Kenney of our Planet Money team reports, they're even trying to move properties by capitalizing on our national obsession with celebrity.
CAITLIN KENNEY: Here's something you don't expect to hear when a realtor is showing you a property they want you to buy.
Ms. CELESTE MOSES (Realtor, Prospective Properties): This is where "Dog Day Afternoon" was filmed. To me, when you walk in you can almost picture, like, this unit to me seems like this would be the vault where the money is.
KENNEY: This is realtor Celeste Moses of Prospective Properties. And the movie she's talking about is a 1975 film starring Al Pacino. It's about a gay man who robs a bank to pay for his partner's sex change. And, well, it doesn't go smoothly. Here's the scene most people remember.
(Soundbite of film, "Dog Day Afternoon")
Mr. AL PACINO (Actor): (as Sonny Wortzik): Get over there, will 'ya? He wants to kill me so bad he can taste it. Attica, Attica, Attica, Attica, Attica...
KENNEY: "Dog Day Afternoon" is not a feel-good movie. It's dark and it's gritty. But that hasn't stopped Celeste from highlighting the film as she tries to sell this Brooklyn apartment.
The opening line of her online ad is: Be a part of Hollywood History. And in the section of the ad with all the photographs, you see the typical shots of the mantle and the kitchen, but there's also a photo of a man standing in front of the bank with policeman pointing guns at him.
Ms. MOSES: It's kind of scary, but it's Al Pacino. It's not as if it's a strange person. You know, you look at it, you go: Who the heck is that? And you go: Oh, it's Al Pacino. Oh, what's this about? It's an attention-getter.
KENNEY: The celebrity link to real estate gets out one way or another. If realtors don't promote it, the media does. Recently in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City, an apartment in a building once owned by Bob Dylan sold for $842,000.
New York magazine featured the apartment in their Fame Slept Here section. But and here's the strange part: The person who bought it couldn't have cared less about the Bob Dylan connection. In fact, he's in the middle of a gut renovation.
And that raises the question: Does the celebrity sales strategy work? To find out I called out to the capital of celebrity real estate, Los Angeles.
Broker Gary Gold has been selling homes in the area for the last 30 years. He is currently an executive vice president at Hilton, yes that Hilton, and Hyland Real Estate. Gold says just because a celebrity lived in a home or a movie was filmed there doesn't mean you can automatically jack up the price 10 or 20 percent. But the celebrity aura isn't worthless.
Mr. GARY GOLD (Executive Vice President, Hilton): I currently have Ashton Kutcher's house, you know, for sale. And we did get a lot of exposure. And I probably had at least twice as many showings than I would have normally had.
So if you get more exposure, and more potential buyers see the property, you have a better opportunity to get more money.
KENNEY: Bottom line: A property associated with celebrity will attract more interest. And the more people that see the property, the better the chance of a bidding war.
As for Celeste with the "Dog Day Afternoon" condo, she's got some new competition. A similar unit in the building recently went on sale for almost exactly the same price, although that listing makes no mention of Hollywood history or Al Pacino.
Caitlin Kenney, NPR News
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