When entering into a client relationship, it’s important for real estate agents and their sellers to adopt the “team” mentality. Both parties are working towards the same end: a win, which in this arena means the sale of a home. Home owners have responsibilities and “homework” (completing listing paperwork, composing a list of updates made to the home, age of mechanics, preparing the house to sell, and being flexible with showing requests.) Real estate agents have their own assignment and almost everything falls under the overarching heading of “marketing.”
Marketing is the avenue by which the sellers’ property (the product) enters the public sphere and becomes an available and known entity for ready, willing and able buyers (and nosey neighbors).
In my marketing plans, I like to highlight the actions I do that make me stand apart from other agents. Here are my Top 10 Marketing Strategies, that when applied appropriately to the home selling situation and in a genuine fashion, make for a very likely sale:
- Pictures/visuals – this is THE thing that sells homes. Buyers in today’s marketplace go online at all times of day and night and look for homes. They go to websites, YouTube, and auditor’s web pages. There is an unquenchable desire to “see more.” For this reason, I call upon the critical members of my team to ensure that the first impression photos are top notch and truly highlight the best features of the home. I only use the professional photographers at my company, and the marketing professionals who assist me in creating clear, attractive materials on and off line.
- Don’t be afraid to talk – when I have a new listing, I compare it to opening night or a new release at the cinema. My goal is to ensure those who are most interested in seeing the show not only know it is coming, but are excited about its debut. As a full-time real estate agent working in an office of full-time agents, I love to talk about what’s on the horizon of my business and also listen to my colleagues “coming soons” to share with my own buyers.
- Pocket listing – supply and demand underlies so much of the real estate industry. Our market conditions are constantly in flux due to seasonality, backdrop of the economy, interest rates, and international events. When the supply is short, sellers are at an advantage in the marketplace and their timeline can be accelerated to capture the overabundance of demand. This often happens in the form of a pocket listing, the opportunity to introduce a property without going live on MLS (agreement MUST be in writing and all pros/cons disclosed.)
- Invite agent feedback -- every Tuesday in our region, realtors have the opportunity to tour new listings by way of the Agent Tour. Homes are “open” for agents only to stop in and see a property up close and often talk with the listing agent. When representing sellers, I find this marketing tactic invaluable.
- Open that House! Many agents are firm believers in holding Open Houses on Saturday and/or Sundays for prospective buyers. Count me in this group! Many of my sales have been the direct result of Opens and I love having the opportunity to showcase the qualities of a home to those who walk in the door, either because they are an active buyer, they are looking for design ideas for their own home, or are simply checking out the local market or a neighborhood.
- If “they” don’t come to you, go to “them” – marketing a home is not a linear equation. What works for one property will not work for all. I like to pull from my personal “toolbox” of strategies when a listing is proving to be particularly stubborn. This may involve door knocking in a neighborhood to ask neighbors for their opinions/feedback, reaching out to other agents with listings in the area to coordinate an Open House event to draw more people in, giving personal tours to agents who typically work in the neighborhood where the listing is located.
- Be frank! I love honesty and encourage it with my sellers, my buyers and all visitors to my Open Houses. No home is perfect and I have found that the more I can share the strengths AND limitations of a property with others, the more they tend to open up about their own thoughts and desires. When it comes time to discuss price reductions, lack of showings, and the need for a change in approach, being direct and providing honest communication is always the right choice.
- Use cross marketing tactics – social media has taken over our everyday lives. For this reason, I try to make sure that my listings are appropriately mentioned in some capacity on Facebook, in my blog, communicated through my e-newsletter and sometimes mentioned in an individual email directed at a specific person/buyer. This is important but “old fashioned” marketing efforts should not be neglected: church bulletin advertisements, sponsorship of events, phone calls, and hand written notes.
- Follow up – when someone asks a question or shows an inkling of interest in one of my listings (or even the neighborhood in which it is located), I make a mental note to reach out to the person and provide more info. Answer a question asked, share a personal note from my sellers to the questioner to relate info on neighbors/schools/community events. Even if my listing is not a good match, this follow up info can provide valuable info to assist these buyers or agents in moving forward on their own paths.
- Ask questions—my goal is to never list homes for long periods of time, my aspiration is to sell them quick to ensure my clients reach their goals. No one should worry about sharing feedback on a home, even if it is not a good match at all. The only way to glean the constructive feedback that will ultimately lead to a sale is to ask questions, and to drill down for more. When true desires of buyers are exposed, changes can be made (price or condition?) that will make the wrong house into the right one.