Realtor draws buyers to rural lots with tunes, candles, roadside tent Quirky method meets with success in Md.


"Nancy Z" lights the candles, fills the sterling silver coffee service and looks out on the rolling Montgomery County meadow she's trying to sell.

She perches in her office -- a tiny nylon tent pitched on the 20-acre lot -- ready with brochures and contracts, waiting for the person with $220,000 and dreams of a rural estate.

Before you laugh at Realtor Nancy Zacharczyk's weekend "open tent" festivities, consider this: She sold a nearly identical adjacent lot her first day. In 15 minutes.

Was the buyer drawn by the freshly brewed coffee? The doughnut holes? The taped piano music?

"It was an impulse buy," Terry Dowless said with a laugh.

Don't send Dowless out for junk food.

The Silver Spring man said he was inspecting construction at his new home earlier this month when he stopped to pick up one of Zacharczyk's brochures. He drove away. Then went back.

"I wouldn't have purchased it if she hadn't been there," said Dowless, who was in the real estate business himself once. "I was impressed by her motivation."

They closed the deal that evening. Not shabby for a lot that had been on the market for a year with another agent.

"I've gotten other business from sitting out in that tent," chirped Zacharczyk, who goes by Nancy Z professionally.

Like the man and woman who drove by two weeks ago. They didn't want the property. "I want her," said the wife, pointing.

They'll have her as their representative on a different deal.

You want different, you want Nancy Z.

She's spunky high energy. The kind of woman who wears out her clothes from the inside out. The former concert pianist worked her way across the Atlantic as a musician on the SS France and traded her 50-student teaching business for a real estate license 13 years ago.

"The detail, perfection and performance that goes into music can be applied to real estate," she said. "It's creative."

And if she doesn't get a buyer for the lot soon?

"I'll start serving champagne. Who can resist champagne?" she said.

Taking chances

Her boss at Long & Foster, Tom Davis, acknowledges the setup is wacky, but hey, it works.

"She's willing to take some chances," he said. "She's trying to take the business to the customers and it's selling."

The tent technique started just before spring thaw, when Zacharczyk realized that she'd be trying to attract buyers to Darnestown -- we'd roll up the sidewalks at night if we had any, 26 miles from Washington, prices start in the mid-$300s Darnestown.

Luckily, the community lies smack in the middle of the weekend escape corridor used by Washington suburbanites on their way to biking, hiking and canoeing along the C&O; Canal and Seneca Creek State Park.

Tent troubles

She went to Price Club and bought a tent large enough to park two cars inside. She took it back after her husband pointed out that she'd never be able to set it up herself.

An 11-by-11 tent suffered the same fate. Now she has a two-person model.

That is where the similarity to camping starts and ends.

In addition to the fancy coffee pot, the candlelight and the food, Nancy Z plays a tape of her own real estate favorites, "Green, HTC Green Grass of Home," "Don't Fence Me In," and that old Woody Guthrie chestnut, "This Land is Your Land."

For $220,000, it can be.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad