The internet is full of forums for potential real estate buyers to communicate and ask questions. The key is to find those brimming with buyers that fit the target profile for your listing. Then, troll the forums to be the resource with the answer at the right time, giving you the opportunity to connect with a prospect. Trulia Voices, Redfin, City-data, RealEstateDiscuss, and AgentsOnline are a few of my favorites. You also have an opportunity to pose a question, which can begin a discussion thread that may also lead to either prospects or innovative marketing ideas (e.g., does any one know of any specific websites that are productive to post “bed and breakfast” listings?)
It is so important that prospective buyers can “mentally move in” to your home when they are walking through it. That means that it is important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. In addition to the obvious – over sized furniture – our agents highly recommend de-personalizing as much as possible. Clear all those magnets and kids’ schoolwork off the refrigerator, for example. Thinning out closets can be huge – making them appear larger and giving the appearance of ample storage.
If you need some help, there are professionals who specialize in this, and we would be happy to recommend some resources, depending on your needs.
One of the goals of marketing listings is to expose them to as many REALTORS as possible. Where do you find REALTORS? In real estate offices, of course! In our offices, for instance, we project photos of our listings as a slideshow in our media/conference rooms…so that they are viewed by agents, as well as customers and clients who are waiting in our lobbies. You just never know when a photo will catch someone’s eye, and they will request a showing.
Beauty is in the eye of the homebuyer. A recently released study by Old Dominion University real estate and psychology students tracked potential buyer eye movements to see what works and what doesn’t work in online real estate ads. The results of the work were fascinating, and according to ODU Professor Michael Seiler, is the first study of real estate ads that uses ocular tracking. We would be happy to share the entire study with you, but in a nutshell, it reinforced the value of a can of paint.
People who saw a bright pink room valued the home it was in for an average of $3,500 less than people who viewed the same ad without the pink room. Wow! Even if your paint is stylish, it may overwhelm a prospective buyer…and, get in the way of a positive buying decision if they don’t fancy the idea of having to re-paint rooms. The results of this study send a strong message to the seller who simply says “I’ll give an allowance for the new buyer to paint the color of their choice;” with so much inventory available, and the ease of simply clicking through to another listing if the photos are not visually appealing, it makes the case for painting in neutral colors up front especially compelling.
The analytical personality type is often overlooked as a target for real estate marketing. Realtors and owners are often so focused on “selling the sizzle” and worrying about curb appeal and staging that they neglect to quantify VALUE for our more left brain friends. It can be a very compelling value proposition to put together a data sheet that tells a story that photos or ad copy cannot.
Take a look at cost per square foot relative to other listings in the market, or consider an analysis of the ratio of asking price to assessed value. Wherever your listing shines, make sure that the info (with supporting documentation and charts and graphs!) is available for the asking.
Do you think that Facebook and Twitter are “just for teenagers?” Think again! A powerful social media campaign (business fan pages, etc.) is quickly becoming a staple of every top REALTOR’s marketing portfolio. Not only can you post your listing to Facebook, but clever and thoughtful posts can expose it to hundreds of people who would not have otherwise been engaged. Facebook also offers pay-per-click advertising opportunities, which enable you to target your viewer by their profile.
Once you have created a compelling highlight sheet, post it at retail establishments in the surrounding community. Grocery store bulletin boards, nearby houses of worship, and dry cleaners are examples of places that folks already sold on the area will frequent.
Do not underestimate the value of a professional stager! When staging first hit the market, I must admit that I was skeptical of the power of this cottage industry. I must tell you that now I am a *HUGE* believer! I have witnessed over and over again the results that a great stager can deliver. Quicker sales and higher initial offer prices are a testimonial to what a trained eye can accomplish. There are many different options for staging…everything from an initial consultation where the stager will give a seller a list of projects or homework, to a full service crew that will manage everything from rearranging furniture to de-cluttering.
“Birds of a feather flock together” or so the saying goes! Wise agents market their listings to other agents who also have listings in the same neighborhood (or similar listings in a close-by neighborhood, or that share common features such as 5 bedrooms). That way, when an agent comes up with a prospect who may rule out their listing for whatever reason, you want your listing to be top of mind! Make them aware, and make sure that they have access to showing instructions and anything else that will make it convenient to show your listing as well when they are showing theirs.
The best agents understand that networking is the name of the game! An agent with a strong sphere of influence is worth their weight in gold…as, they share details about their listings with an army of people who share “the scoop” and create additional avenues of exposure as a result. Think about it: your agent raves about their new listing…positively the buy of the century…which gets tongues wagging from bunko to the golf course to the church social. Everyone loves to talk about real estate…so, leverage that to your advantage!