Our local Williamsburg MLS has a feature which enables agents to send a “blast e-mail” to all participating MLS members. This is a tremendous opportunity when utilized effectively. It’s a great target market – over 400 REALTORS, any one of whom may be currently working with the buyer you’re looking for.
The key is to decipher how to make your e-blast stand out among the myriad of e-mails that agents receive on a daily basis. Here are some tips: Your headline MUST be catchy. Your description should be brief, and focused on the highlights of the property (as opposed to 3 bedrooms, 2 baths). Always include the address, neighborhood and price in the body of your e-mail, in case I’m scanning for a particular client. If you make me click on the link and/or log in to find out basic information, I may be in a hurry and elect to skip it. This is a very important tool, and it’s essential that you invest the requisite time and creativity to leverage it.
Open houses are a tried and true method of generating traffic to your listing. How about “kicking it up a notch?” Select a theme for your open house. Ideally, you match your idea to a highlight of the home. For instance, if your listing has a killer kitchen, consider doing a cooking demonstration. Perhaps partner with a local restaurant, and share marketing expenses. If your listing is new construction, think about hosting a “Meet the Builder” open house. Or, if your listing sports a great media room, how about an “Afternoon at the Movies” theme?
There are many ways to use demographic information to aid in target marketing. One of the most effective uses we have found is to target subsets of real estate agents. It could be as hyper local as all agents who have sold property in this neighborhood in the past 12 months, to all agents who have sold in this price range in the past 2 years. You can filter a search to reach out to Southside agents, or even agents in Northern Virginia.
In some markets, like our Williamsburg market, Broker Open Houses are a custom. On a pre-set once a week schedule advertised on the MLS website, different zones (areas of town) are featured. Agents from across the MLS look up the listings that are open in that zone on a particular day, and choose the broker open houses which they will attend. This can be a terrific opportunity for a listing agent to expose their listing to a variety of agents at once.
There are a number of ways to insure a successful broker open. First and foremost, attend other agents’ opens – they are more likely to support yours if they have seen you in attendance when their listings have been open. Next, provide a light lunch. Around these parts, Carrot Tree and The Cheese Shoppe are always popular…and, while it may seem frustrating that some agents would show up simply for the menu of free food, remember that your objective is to get as many agents there as possible – because you just never know which one of them will be working the buyer you’re trying to reach. Business card drawings can also lure attendance, and don’t need to be expensive…it’s more about a chance to win and feeling lucky.
The marketing goal of any listing agent or seller is to generate as much “BUZZ” as possible about their listing. One way to accomplish that is to partner with a worthwhile event, and create an audience who may not otherwise be exposed to your property. Consider hosting a charitable fundraiser at your listing – perhaps a silent auction to benefit the local SPCA or a children’s hospital? Involve the recipient charity, so that you can leverage their efforts to get the word out, and capitalize on the opportunity to send press releases, etc.
One of the age old debates raging in real estate circles is whether or not you should include a flyer box on the ‘for sale’ sign. The argument for not posting flyers outside is that you give the buyer too much information, and then they don’t have a reason to call. It also can be frustrating when neighborhood kids raid the box on a regular basis, and you’re continually re-stocking flyers.
I would argue, however, that the only prospects you eliminate that way are the ones who are not qualified. If the price scares them off, then chances are that they’re not your buyer anyway. And, a compelling, high quality feature sheet may just entice a prospect not to judge a book by its cover, and encourage them to take a look inside. It’s also an opportunity to include information (such as financing, see #68 or VA $1 Move In, #35), which may just seal the deal. If you’re worried about the expense of replacing flyers, use high quality black and white in the outside box, and color inside.
One way to be pro-active about encouraging buyers to buy is to make it simple for them. At Liz Moore & Associates, our preferred lenders are more than happy to create financing option sheets. In a nutshell, these take the sales price of the listing, and detail several different financing options, including the required cash to close and monthly payments. This can be very effective if a buyer is stretching a bit out of their price range, for instance, and hadn’t considered an adjustable rate mortgage as an option. Perhaps seeing the lower payment in the initial years may be just the ticket to overcome their fear of making an offer.
Creating a color, photo rich, glossy feature sheet highlighting the selling points of the property is not something to take for granted. Imagine being a buyer visiting from out of the area who invested the day looking at a dozen or more homes. That evening, they are back in their hotel, reflecting on the day, and reviewing their notes, and the marketing materials that they picked up during the showings. A high quality feature sheet is going to help your listing rise to the top of the stack, and is incredibly important as a lasting impression of your listing.
Differentiating your listing from the rest of the sea of inventory is the name of the game. Sometimes a price reduction makes sense; other times, it may be far more economical to invest the same amount of dollars (or even less) in an incentive for the buyer. Let’s say, for instance, that your community has steep condo or POA fees…perhaps consider picking up the tab on those for a “FREE YEAR of community fees!” Another option is to offer lawn maintenance for a year, or perhaps a flat screen TV if the buyer ratifies a contract before Super Bowl Sunday. One caveat: be sure to review your proposed incentive with a lender to be sure that it can be accomplished within applicable lender guidelines.
This one is a basic, but important nonetheless. Create a virtual tour for your listing. Basically, a virtual tour is a video or slideshow that is composed of panoramic images, giving the effect that you are “looking around” a property rather than standing still. It is a great media for the web, because out of the area prospective buyers can get a true feel for a home, never having been there.
A few tips: not all properties are good candidates for virtual tours. If your home is small or vacant, still photography may be a better option. Be sure to take advantage of panoramic shots of the neighborhood. Getting a feel for the street scene is a big plus to savvy online lookers.