Part 2 Marketing Your Home
Marketing is the activities you do to make potential buyers call you to view your home. Selling is the the activities you do face to face with the buyer, like pointing out features and benefits. You can't do much selling until the buyers arrive at your door. Here are some important tips to attract those buyers and make them want to schedule a viewing appointment.
Photos Do’s and Don’ts
Amazing photos will grab the attention of potential buyers and make them want to come view your home in person. Great photos are one of the most important elements of marketing your home correctly. If the photos you put in your advertising are dark, blurry and poorly framed you are doing yourself a big disservice.
I like to think I can take pretty decent photos. Even so, I hire a professional photographer for almost all the homes I list and I suggest you do the same. Unless your home is a fixer upper, a professional photographer will give your home a great first impression and set yourself apart from your competition. It costs anywhere from $100 to $200 in most cases, depending on how many photos are taken. If you don’t want to go to that expense here are a few tips for doing it yourself. Just remember the list of expired listings in the MLS is full of really bad photography.
Use a real digital camera with a flash, and preferably a wide angle lens.
- Disable the time/date stamp on your camera.
- Don’t use your phone camera. If you must you use your phone hold it horizontally, not vertically.
- Don’t use a “Fisheye Lens”. They distort the photo and look silly.
- Turn on all the lights and open all the blinds.
- Wait until the sun is shining brightly and not an overcast day.
- Don’t shoot towards big windows or sliding glass doors. It will darken the photo.
- Keep people and pets out of your photos.
- Keep vehicles and boats out of your photos.
- The front exterior photo should be taken at an angle to give depth and minimize the garage. Don’t shoot straight at the front of your home.
- Exclude photos of bathrooms unless they are a really something to show off.
- The same goes for closets. Unless it is a huge custom closet it isn’t adding anything.
- Use the photo editor on your computer for all your photos. They are simple to use and every photo can be brightened up at least a little bit.
- Take a lot of pictures and choose the best ones.
Writing a Good Property Description
Writing a good property description should do one thing, and that is to attract the most potential buyers to go see the property in person. The more showings of the property you get, the more offers you will get. It is that simple. It is unlikely you will get offers sight unseen. So the purpose should not be to sell the property straight from the listing, but to create curiosity and get them to come look at it.
Writing a good property description means being concise. Less is more. Keep it under 300 words. Way under if you can. We live in a world of information overload. When buyers are going through listings they look at the pictures first and perhaps take a glance at the description. If it takes up an entire page, chances are they won’t read much of it.
Use bullet points of unique selling features, instead of long prose when you can. They will get noticed better. For example:
- Direct Ocean Views
- Open Floor Plan
- Custom Hardwood Cabinets
- Energy Efficient Appliances
- Impact resistant glass
- Custom designed swimming pool
Kitchens, bathrooms and views are what most buyers focus on. If you write everything you know about the property, you may bring up a feature a buyer doesn’t like and they will never give the property a chance. Don’t exaggerate or get too flowery. Avoid cliches like “Million Dollar View” and “Won’t Last”. There is no need to repeat things that are elsewhere in the listing, like the bedroom count or square footage, either. Buyers will focus on the pictures first, so make sure they are of good quality or it won’t matter what it says in the description. Write for the masses, keeping in mind you want to get the most potential buyers through the door.
For Sale signs can be found at Home Depot, Lowes and other hardware stores. You can go one step further and get a custom sign at your local sign shop. Reflective surfaces are available that will make your sign really stand out at night. I recommend you also pick up what is called an Infotube. You can find them displayed with the signs. It is a plastic tube that can hold your flyers and attaches to the sign stand.
Creating a Flyer
I recommend a great free graphics site called Canva.com. It is very simple to use. There are tons of templates for different kinds of advertising you may do. Some are specific to real estate. Just keep it simple with a lot of white space.
Where to Advertise
There are a number of For Sale by Owner websites available. There are none that I am going to recommend here. Most of them charge a fee of several hundred dollars and they no longer get the traffic that they used to. There are enough alternatives that are well known to buyers and are also free to post.
Craigslist - It’s free but it is also crowded with junk and spammers. The newest listings get shown first so yours will end up near the bottom before long. If you do advertise there, be sure to create an account on their site first. That will make it much easier to repost your listing and thereby bring it back to the top of the list. They allow you to repost every 48 hours. So set up a reminder for yourself to do this. When you create your ad, I suggest you leave the price box empty but put the price in the body of the description somewhere. It creates curiosity and you will get more clicks that way.
Backpage.com - Similar to Craigslist. It’s free too.
Ebayclassifieds.com - A free site with good search capabilities.
Ebay.com - You can posts listing in a non-auction fashion for a fee.
Zillow.com - Also free and will probably get you the most exposure. The problem I have with Zillow is their valuation estimates (Zestimate) are notoriously inaccurate. Your should be able to decline to have it show on your listing. Be aware of this option.
Facebook - I love advertising on Facebook. Of course, you can post your listing on your personal page and share it with your friends, which is valuable. You can also create a page dedicated to selling your home and then pay to advertise it. To do this you need to click the link “create a page” and follow the instructions. I could write a whole chapter on this, but there are instructions to do this in the Facebook help section. Facebook advertising gives you the ability to carefully target your audience and even exclude certain people, such as say, real estate agents.
The Open House
If you watch the real estate shows on HGTV etc., you may get the impression that to sell your home you must hold an open house. That really isn’t the case. An open house is about the only thing an agent does that looks interesting on TV. The reality is there is only a 2% likelihood that the buyer you get will come from an open house. The number one reason agents will hold an open house is to meet potential buyers. Opening your home to strangers can be a security issue, so think about that when you decide to hold one.
If you do an open house be sure to do it right. Begin your advertising a week in advance. Then make sure you have plenty of small open house signs around the neighborhood with your address and phone number on it, that will point people to your home from higher traffic areas.
Dealing With Agents
The majority of phone calls you get from your advertising will probably be from agents. FSBO’s are a prime source of leads for agents. You should decide ahead of time whether you want to cooperate with them or not, and how much you intend to compensate them. 3% is the typical amount.
When they call, expect to be asked these questions:
Are you cooperating with agents if I bring you a buyer?
Can I preview your home?
How long do you intend to try to sell it yourself before you hire an agent?
Some will be sincerely interested because they have a buyer, but most are qualifying you as a potential client or just want to get their foot in the door in the event that you do decide to hire one. Use your own best judgement whether to take your time with them. It doesn't hurt to get some opinions and feedback from professionals.
Going into this, you may not have even considered it yet, but by letting potential buyers into your home you are opening yourself up to a considerable security risk. It is a big concern for agents and it should be to you too. Use caution and common sense. As an agent, I make sure to do as much qualify and vetting as possible before showing property to a stranger. At the very least I want to know if they have the means to purchase a property. So I request they provide a pre-approval letter from a lender or proof of funds letter from their financial institute. Their personal information like name, cell phone, email address should all match.
I suggest the following to be safe:
Have them email a pre-approval letter and get the full name and phone number before you set the appointment.
It isn’t a bad idea to Google their name and see if they are on Facebook. You can learn a lot in just a few minutes. The best way to search for someone on Facebook is too enter their email address in the search bar. If they have a common name you may get several results from your search.
- Don’t show the home by yourself.
- When they arrive, make a note of the type of car they are driving.
- Avoid showing it to people who knock on your door. Make it by appointment only.
Showing and Selling
When potential buyers come to look at the property try not to hover over them or give them a regimented tour. Instead give them some space, invite them to open doors and cabinets if they want, and to feel at home. Be available for questions but let your home do the selling.
At the end of the showing try to get some feedback. It is unlikely they will give you any negative criticism to your face. I have found just two simple questions work well.
1. ”So, what do your think?”
2. “Would you consider making an offer?”
Keep track of everyone you show it to. It can take a lot of showings before you find an actual buyer for it. Experience has shown me that it takes about 10 different showings on average to generate one offer. Not every offer will lead to a sale. Without their contact info you won’t be able to advise them of any price adjustments down the road. It helps to make notes of the conversations you have had too.
There are three different scenarios that can take place once you begin to show your home.
A. You get little (less than one a week) or no, buyer showings.
B. You get plenty of showings, but no offers.
C. You get an offer or even better multiple offers.
Buyers want a home that appeals to them, but in the end it is mostly about price. If you are getting offers, then great, you have probably priced it right or close enough. If you are showing the home a lot but not getting offers, you are close, but it may take a price reduction to generate offers. If you are getting no showings or offers, then you have probably set too ambitious an asking price.
Monitoring the Market
Once you have begun marketing your home, it is a good idea to keep up with the sales activity in your neighborhood. Before I get started, I like to know what is the ratio of active listings to closed sales. For example, if there are 12 active listings in the neighborhood and on average, there are 2 closed sales per month, that means there is 6 months worth of inventory.
Is this number trending up or down? By monitoring new listings, pending sales, and closed sales you can make sure you are staying on track. Without access to the MLS it is hard to get timely and reliable information.
Here is another area where I am willing to help you. Send me an email and I can set you up to receive automatic updates to you inbox of all status and price changes in your neighborhood, as well as new competing listings.
You can reach me 954-895-2431
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