These are the only things you need to do to effectively market your home:
- Listing on MLS – this is 99% of value of any marketing.
- Price it right
- Take good pictures
- Make your home easy to show for Realtors – use a Realtor keybox and ShowingTime (ST)
- Offer a 3% commission to buyers’ agents
- Use our professional yard sign (not a FSBO sign)
- Clean, depersonalize, and declutter your home so it shows well
- Answer your phone and/or respond quickly to voicemails and emails
If you don’t like to read, you can stop here and just do the things on the above list.
Listing on MLS
The best possible exposure is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and websites that display MLS listings. The 3 largest national websites that display MLS listings are Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia. The MLS and public MLS websites ARE the real estate market.
The typical process begins with a buyer looking on Realtor.com or Zillow to see what is available in their price range in the area. They pay the most attention to the prettiest homes with the most square footage. Then they either start calling some of the agents listed, or give their agent the list of homes they want to see, and they go looking at houses. If a buyer is driving around in an area they are interested in, and sees a “For Sale” sign, they will either put the address in their phone for more information and pictures, or will call the number on the sign.
Price it right
- People don’t buy overpriced homes.
- Even if you get a contract for an inflated price, the buyer will want to renegotiate or cancel when the appraisal comes in.
- The idea of “starting high”, and then coming down, is a bad idea. The first 10 days is when you are most likely to get a full asking price offer for your home. The more time goes by, the more confirmation the buyers will have that your home is not worth the asking price, and they will be more likely to offer less.
- If you are not getting any showings or offers, the property is overpriced (no exceptions).
- Buyers are out there looking at other homes along with yours, and if the other ones are a better value, the will view and make offers on the other ones first.
- Ultimately, the value of your home is determined by what other similar homes have sold for in the area recently. We can help you with your pricing by providing you with this information.
For more about pricing, see Pricing Guide
Take good pictures
Your photos should be an accurate portrayal of the main areas and rooms of your home. You don’t need absolute perfection, but they need to be good enough to make a buyer want to come out and see the home. Buyers make buying decisions based on what they see in person, not online photos. You have the option to order a professional photographer when placing your order with us, or you can take your own photos.
For how to take great photos yourself, see Photo Guide
Make your home easy to show for Realtors
The easier it is for agents to access your home, the more showings you will get and the faster it will sell. That means use the electronic Realtor keybox, and make the showing process as simple as possible. Use ShowingTime to book the showings.
For more about Showings, see Showings and Keyboxes
Offer a 3% commission to buyers’ agents
We know that sellers want to avoid or minimize commissions – that’s what our business is all about. But trying to offer less than 3% to buyer’s agents creates an extra obstacle and doesn’t translate to savings in the end. When we refer you a buyer directly who doesn’t have an agent, there is zero commission.
For more about this, see Buyer’s Agent Commissions
Use our professional yard sign (not a FSBO sign)
A professional yard sign is included with your listing.
For more information about yard signs, see Sign Advice
Clean, depersonalize, and declutter
- Clean – Pay most attention to kitchen and bathrooms. Strive for “hotel clean”.
- Depersonalize – remove personal pictures, religious items and the moose head.
- Declutter – Get all the extra boxes and papers put away; closets should be at least 1/4 empty; no rooms should be “crowded” with furniture. Move extra stuff off site if you need to.
For more, see Getting Ready to Show
Answer your phone and emails
We will be forwarding you buyers who are interested in your home, who don’t have agents. You want to respond quickly so they don’t go find an agent to show it to them. We will have your phone number in your listing for agents to call for questions about your property. We will forward offers to you by email.
“Marketing” that will not make a difference
An Open House is a marketing tool that listing agents use to gain prospects, not a tool to actually sell your home. Any serious prospects for your home would have seen it online anyway. The people most likely to go to an open house are the neighbors who are thinking about listing their house, and buyers who are just starting to look and aren’t tied to an agent yet. These are great prospects for the agent, not the seller. Holding an open house is also a great way for the 6% real estate agents to give their listing clients the impression they are actually doing something.
Holding an open house can’t hurt, and it doesn’t require any special knowledge. So if you think you should do it, go ahead and knock yourself out. Holding an open house can be a nice social event to meet your neighbors, and satisfies their curiosity. Beyond that, it’s a waste of time.
“Coming Soon” signs
Many 6% agents like post such sign in hopes of getting a buyer without an agent so they can work both sides of a transaction and get a bigger commission. It’s also a way for a 6% agent to give their sellers the impression they are doing some kind of marketing. It can lead to confusion and MLS complaints from other agents who suspect the agent of being shady and promoting a pocket listing.
It doesn’t benefit the seller. As a seller, it is best to get the house on the MLS as soon as possible and skip the nonsense of these kinds of signs.
Flyers were very useful back before everybody had a cell phone and could pull up pictures and details of your home in a matter of seconds. Flyers in a flyer box on your yard sign are typically picked up by the dog walkers or curious passersby. We stopped including flyer boxes with our signs in 2017 because sellers rarely installed them on their signs, and buyers stopped collecting flyers. There’s no point in having a flyer to email either; it’s easier to just email or text a link of your online listing.
Mailings to the neighborhood
The logic of this should make you wonder: How likely is it that somebody already living in your neighborhood is going to buy your house? The truth is that mailers are typically a way for traditional 6% agents to get more prospects to buy and sell other homes, and are mailed to coincide with an open house.
Newspaper and online ads online classifieds
The majority of homes sold with newspapers and classified ads are by professional investors, and filled with ads with headings like “$0 down”, “Owner financing”, “Lease Option”, “Bad credit ok”, “$3000 down, $900/mo.”, etc. Investors typically inflate the home prices and give the buyer/tenant (who can’t qualify for a loan) a lease option. Credit challenged buyers gravitate towards newspapers because they can’t qualify for a typical loan that would be required for MLS listed homes. Other time wasters that will respond to newspaper ads are investors looking for bargains, and real estate agents prospecting for listings.
Free Real Estate Magazines
Commonly found on racks in supermarkets and convenience stores, these publications exist to either promote a real estate company or sell advertising. They contain no useful information for buyers, and due to the time lag between printing to actually being picked up and read (minimum 2 weeks), the listings are already out of date before they are ever seen.
For-Sale-By-Owner websites get an insignificant amount of traffic from buyers. Buyers who do take a look get discouraged quickly by the limited selection and from the lack of a response from sellers when they try to make contact. Many of the ads are outdated and the homes are off the market, so sellers often don’t respond. FSBO websites, online ads and FSBO yard signs tend to attract investors looking for bargains, agents soliciting listings, and unqualified buyers looking for owner financing.
A very unproductive method some agents like to tell their clients about (as though it has value) is mass emails to agents informing them of a house for sale. Agents have access to MLS, and don’t need to be spammed with such information – it’s just an annoyance. The first thing the typical agent does when checking emails is delete the “House for sale” spam emails from other agents. Many agents mark the sender as a spammer in their email program, causing any legitimate future emails (including offers) from the spamming agent to go directly into the trash.
Misconceptions about what a listing agent will do
- That a listing agent “sells” a home. The truth is that buyers and buyer’s agents simply search for properties online and in the MLS, and they don’t care who the listing agent is. If a property matches their criteria, they might go see it.
- That an agent has interested buyers eagerly waiting in the wings for the right house, and yours is the one! All you need to do is list your home with this agent, and they will bring all these buyers to you! The truth is, if they actually had any active buyers, they would be actively showing them houses. And it’s unlikely that your house will match what they’re looking for anyway.
- That there is a secret magical marketing formula that only certain super-real estate agents possess. It is common for real estate agents to make sales pitches about what great marketers they are, and provide a list of things they will do to “sell” your home. Chances are these things are designed to get leads to promote their business, not your home. The best skill an agent can have that will get your house to sell quickly is getting you to list it for the right price.
After listing your home in MLS, the most valuable marketing a real estate agent can do for you is to answer their phone positively and respond quickly to buyer inquiries. Have you ever called a real estate agent and gotten a convoluted “phone jail” answering system, or one of those “please announce your name” voicemails (as if they were so important)? Many buyers will just hang up.
In all the years we have been in business, the only times we have ever seen sellers cancel with us and succeed in selling their home with a traditional 6% agent, is when we failed to convince our seller to reduce their price, but the new agent succeeded.
Value of Obtaining Showing Agent Feedback
We urge our clients to take feedback with a grain of salt. Sellers already know the shortcomings of their home. If your home has a shortcoming that’s easy to fix, then fix it. If it can’t be fixed, then you need to wait for a buyer who doesn’t care, or reduce your price to compensate for the shortcoming. Some things are just a matter of preference or taste, and the feedback doesn’t help. The most meaningful feedback is how many showings and offers you are getting.
With that said, we always request agent feedback after a showing with the automated email system set up through ShowingTime (ST). Most agents don’t leave feedback. The feedback we get is usually the agent simply saying something nice or something irrelevant. Examples of what we consider irrelevant feedback are “the floor plan doesn’t work for this buyer”, or “buyer needs a 5th bedroom”.
In non-ST areas, calling to obtain feedback from agents who have shown a home is another thing that many listing agents do that doesn’t make any difference. Sellers whose homes are overpriced are the most likely to obsess over getting feedback. They are typically fishing for answers about why their home isn’t selling (other than price).
Why 6% listing agents like to call showing agents for feedback:
- Listing agent hopes their client will get the impression something is being done to help justify their 6% commission.
- Agent just does it because early in their career they were taught that’s what listing agents are supposed to do.
- Gives lonely agents someone to talk to.
- Gives bored agents something to do.
The actual result of sellers calling buyers’ agents for feedback:
- Occasionally satisfies the curiosity of the seller.
- Most often just confuses the seller and yields no new information.
- Agent doesn’t remember the property, so they just say something nice.
- Agent does PR and is complimentary about the property and doesn’t say anything negative.
- Agent gets annoyed and calls us to find out why the seller is calling them for feedback.
- Agent happens to be one of those agents who doesn’t want to deal directly with sellers, and avoids showing the property in the future.
Why buyer’s agents will tell sellers their house is beautiful and priced well, even if it isn’t:
The logic is that any seller may be in the market for a new agent at some point. If the seller believes the home is priced right, then it must be their agent’s fault that the property isn’t selling. If that’s true, then the simple solution would be to get a new agent, like one who apparently shares the seller’s views about the quality and price of the home.
Unfortunately, if it’s the same property in the same MLS at the same price, the property doesn’t sell with the new agent either. The new agent plans to talk the seller into reducing the price some time after it’s listed.
Feedback doesn’t help sell an overpriced property
In our Pricing Guide, we discuss the realities of pricing your home. Very simply, if your home isn’t selling, it’s not priced correctly. Often times, sellers seek an agent’s confirmation that their home is priced appropriately. No matter what an agent might tell you, if you’re not getting showings and offers, the home is overpriced. No amount of buyer agent feedback will change this fact.