Some agents may suggest they have a “sophisticated,” “exclusive” or “secret” marketing strategy for your home. But all real estate agents have a similar menu of advertising venues to choose from – how many we take advantage of depends on how much time and money we’re willing to invest. When you get right down to it, my marketing strategy is really pretty simple – to have the attractive features of your home seen by as many qualified potential buyers as possible, as soon as possible, and as often as possible. This is the only way to ensure that your home sells quickly, and for the maximum possible price.
And here is my sophisticated, exclusive secret, right up front: there is no secret. It just takes skill, knowledge and effort. Let’s take a long look at exactly what we’re going to do:
Photos, Photos, and More Photos
Photographs are the cornerstone of our marketing plan. Buyers want lots of good photos when they look for homes, and when they find photos they like, they make time to visit. Few or no photos, or bad photos = no visit. When your property is ready to go on the market, we’ll take dozens of great photos of the most attractive features, and use them lavishly to promote your home.
Where are we going to use them? Glad you asked:
Multiple Listing Service
The first place at least 25 of the best photos are going to go is into the local Multiple Listing Service (MRIS in the DC area). Not only do real buyers see them there (through Homesdatabase.com and other websites) but it is the primary vehicle for marketing to all the other agents – thousands of them – in the MRIS area. About 90% of buyers use an agent to help them with their home search. Agents also look at photos, and agents bring buyers!
You will see a variety of sources telling you authoritatively that “XX% of buyers start their search on the internet,” and whether the actual percentage is 75% or 90%, it’s unquestionably huge. You will still see some newspaper advertising (“Pvt 3bd, 2ba, lg ktchn, ofc, scr prch, CAC, call agt 703-861-9234”), but it’s usually in support of the brokerage or agent, or because it makes the seller feel better. Newspapers are failing to thrive because they cannot offer in classified advertisements the rich experience and instant response a buyer can get online. Not only that, they are recycled by the next day, and the ad is gone. Supermarket “home buyer” magazines are no better-by the time they’re published, the listings are stale.
Because print advertising is simply no longer useful, the internet is the chief focus of my marketing efforts. And what a focus!
Your home will be seen on every major home search website, and showcased on at least twenty national home search websites, starting with the biggest of them all, Realtor.com.
Realtor.com Enhanced Listings allow 25 jumbo photos, virtual tours, Open House alerts, custom headlines and property descriptions, special banners and feature icons, and activity reports (how many website visitors are looking at your home); meanwhile, the basic listings most agents use have a maximum of only four photos and very limited descriptive elements.
Your home will receive special local attention through my personal website and blog, Samson Realty’s onlyfour.com website, washingtonpost.com, and craigslist, in an attractively formatted ad with pictures.
Thousands – more likely tens of thousands – of potential buyers will see your home through these websites, far more than would ever see it in the paper.
For Sale Sign
Almost every agent offers a sign, to alert buyers who are “scouting the neighborhood” that your home is available for sale. Our tall, distinctive, white-post, reflective sign ensures that your home is noticed, and the well-established Samson Realty logo reassures buyers they will be dealing with an experienced and ethical agent. The signpost will typically have a convenient brochure box attached.
A four-page full color brochure with detailed information about your home’s best features-including at least a dozen handsome photos-will be available inside for prospective buyers to help them remember your home. Outside, in a weather-protected brochure box, buyers passing by without an agent will find a two-page color flyer with the same information.
Coffee Table Book
An interesting recent addition to my marketing arsenal is the coffee table book. Alone on your coffee table, or in another conspicuous location that visitors can’t miss, will be a bound book of stunning and dramatic photographs of your home, opened to display two pages of the most striking photos. It’s not just a book – it’s an objet d’art that serves to magnify the difference between your home and its competition.
Generally, direct mail is only looked at by a small percentage of recipients, as you would probably attest yourself. How much advertising (junk) mail do you read? However, I do find that a “Choose Your Neighbor” campaign to homes in your own neighborhood, advertising your home and inviting neighbors to your first Open House if you choose to have one, will usually get an excellent response. It’s called Choose Your Neighbor because your neighbors are likely to know someone-a friend, colleague or family member in the market for housing-that they can tell about your home. You may also attract a neighbor who is ready to buy, or perhaps move to a nicer home.
The likelihood of selling your home as a direct result of holding an Open House is slim, but Open Houses do serve other useful purposes. By meeting directly with potential buyers in your home, we can obtain valuable feedback regarding price, condition and appeal. Also, spending 3-4 hours in your home lets us recognize additional features or items for improvement that we may not have noticed earlier. Finally, the perfect buyer might just walk in the door – or hustle home to tell a friend who later buys the home.
If we are going to hold an Open House, we would probably want to have it soon after the home is first listed and ready, and interest will be high. After that, we can decide together if others would be productive. Some home sellers would prefer not to have to vacate their home for most of a day. If you would rather not have Open Houses, it probably will not extend the marketing time of your home significantly.
By the way, there are two reasons most agents hold Open Houses: first, because the sellers think they are supposed to, so it makes them happy; and second, to pick up active buyers who need a real estate agent. Nothing wrong with that – I do it myself at other agents’ listings – but just so you know, I don’t make much of an effort to recruit buyers for myself at my own Open Houses. I am there to help sell your home.
Feedback from Agents and Buyers
The final tool in my marketing backpack is a feedback system. Feedback from buyers and their agents is important because it helps us to identify what buyers find appealing, so we can highlight it, and also what they see as a drawback, so we can minimize it – if not for them, then for future prospective buyers.
It’s not easy getting good feedback. Buyers’ agents might show a dozen different homes and get voicemails from a dozen agents asking for comments. It’s hard for them to find time to make those return calls (they aren’t paid to do it), let alone remember which home was which. So I use a system that emails them a simple form with a photo of the home and a few customizable multiple-choice questions, and some space for additional comments. The buyer’s agent does not have to deal with voicemails or return calls, can respond when it’s convenient, has the picture of the home to help remember, and is offered a chance for a nice prize if the feedback is provided in a timely way.
Not only does the system encourage and deliver good feedback, another nice thing about it is that you – the home seller – has direct online access to the information about showings and the unvarnished feedback comments themselves. And, it provides me with an option to email all or some of the showing agents whenever we update something as a result of the feedback, which can result in another showing or even a sale.
Not marketing, but more of an informational tool for you is a weekly market report. It’s valuable to know what is happening with the competition, so I send you a report each week about new properties that have come on the market, those that have sold or gone under contract, and any that have been withdrawn. That way, you will always know where we fit in the market and whether we need to make any adjustments to attract buyers.
Your Home Will Have Its Own Website
Your home for sale will have a mini-website dedicated to it. The website will be professionally designed and will include the following features:
Visitors will use “tabs” to access different features of your home’s website, including Description, Features, Photos, Map, Schools, and Video.
18 Huge Photos
The photos are 700 x 525 pixels and are all visible through a photo gallery system.
We will embed additional photos and video on a special page.
Full-size Google Map
Google Maps include close-up features and satellite imagery, encouraging visitors to stay awhile and look around!