Marketing Your Home
When it's time to sell your home, whether it's a single family detached home or an attached home (townhome, duplex, condo, manor home, etc.), there are few things more critical to getting you the best price and terms in the sale of your home than QUALITY EXPOSURE! That exposure comes in many forms, both "online" and off. But in today's real estate market, with roughly 90% of home buyers beginning their home search on the internet, the marketing that has by far the most significant impact is a home's presence on "the Web!"
This isn't to say that the "traditional" marketing techniques aren't important as well. Here's an overview of effective strategies that you'll want to have included in the marketing of your home:
- CMA (Comparative Market Analysis)
You may find it strange to think of the CMA as part of your marketing strategy, but in fact it's a very important part. A thorough market evaluation will give you valuable information about recent sales in your area, current competition, as well as information about homes that have been on the market but did not sell. That information, coupled with your own needs and situation, will help you determine how much to ask for your home.
- Market Position
This is a critical component of your marketing strategy. When you're ready to put your home on the market, it's important to temporarily put on your "buyer's cap". Just like you'll do when you're shopping for a home, home buyers are constantly comparing properties. Of course, no two properties are identical, so they must weigh the value of all sorts of things...the extra bedroom, updated kitchen, nicer back yard, distance from work and schools, amount of updating, etc. So when you're looking at the price you should set for your home, it's important to keep that in mind as well. Look at the prices of your competition. Do those homes have things that yours does not? Are they larger or smaller? Do they have more upgrades or less? What about their locations compared to yours? Or condition compared to yours. If your home has more to offer than your competition, but is priced lower than the competition, what do you suppose buyer response will be? Conversely, if you have less than your competition, but are priced higher, what would you suppose buyer reaction would be?
Here are a few factors which do not determine the price at which your home will sell in the marketplace:
- The amount you PAID for your home
- The amount you OWE on your home
- What an appraiser recently appraised your home for (this is one item that's critical for you to understand, and we'll address it in depth later)
- What the tax assessor determines your home's "value" to be
- What your neighbors and friends tell you your home is worth
- What an agent (or agents) tell you your home is worth
Your home is worth what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for it (and if they must get a mortgage in order to complete the purchase, what that buyer's lender's appraiser deems it to be worth.)
Badly positioning your home in the market can actually negate nearly all other marketing, so pay particular attention to how you want it positioned! When determining your price, here are some other things you'll want to consider:
- Current Market Absorption (how many homes are coming on the market vs how many are being sold during a given period of time). For example, if you're in an area where there are 180 homes on the market and 120 homes have sold in the past 12 months, that means that on average about 10 homes are selling each month. In other words, assuming no other homes are added to the market, it would take roughly a year and a half to sell off all the current inventory. More importantly, if roughly 10 will likely sell in a given month, where would you need to price your home to be one of those 10?
- How many properties similar to yours are currently for sale (if there are 10 already, do you think you'd price your home differently than if there were none?)
- What is your motivation (do you have a year to sell, or do you need it sold "yesterday"!)
- Are there any circumstances in your area that would impact your home's "saleability" (plant closings, highways coming in, significantly higher priced homes being built, etc.)
Answers to questions like these will help you determine your market position.
- The "Traditional" Component
While online marketing is critical (and is most likely to generate the buyer for your home), offline and traditional marketing certainly still have their place. You'll notice that quite often the offline marketing is used to help drive prospects to the online marketing (where it will have a greater impact). Among the offline marketing tools are:
- MLS (Multiple Listing Service) - While not really "offline", the MLS certainly has non-web components that are at the core of any good real estate marketing strategy. That's why MLS is at the top of the marketing list. The MLS is the primary tool agents have for notifying area agents of your home's availability. Today, however, you're able to benefit from much, much more marketing if your home is included in the MLS. That'll be covered a bit later.
- Newspaper advertising (though this is being used less and less today and papers have suffered dramatic cuts in readership...if people aren't reading the paper, who'd be seeing your ad?) To put newspaper real estate ads in perspective, open up your favorite paper and try to find a classified real estate ad that "stands out". Newspaper ad costs are high, while their effectiveness is extremely low.
- Open houses - While these can be quite effective, not every property is suited to generate open house interest. If the home is in a popular neighborhood and is convenient to main roads (so prospects don't get distracted or lost while following open house signs to your home) it might well be a great candidate for an open house.
- The "For Sale" sign in your yard - don't underestimate the value of that sign. If a prospects sees your sign and has an interest in your home, you've already passed one hurdle ... they've already seen its location. One word of warning though (and sellers who try to sell "by owner" find this out very quickly as well) is that buyers notoriously under-estimate the price range of the home when they drive by. In other words...the sign can attract attention, but it's often of unqualified prospects.
- Feature Showcase - These detailed, color brochures don't "attract" buyers, but they certainly can be a great tool to help create additional interest in prospects who've already been attracted to your home. The Feature Showcase is your chance to help your home really shine...show off all the upgrades, updates, improvements, special features, photos, maps, etc.
- "Just Listed" Cards - Sending out notifications to neighbors, target market areas, etc., has been a staple of effective marketing for years. Today they offer the added benefit of guiding recipients to your online marketing (such as your virtual tour).
- Virtual Tour - A quality tour of your home can be created for viewing either online or off (using a custom CD). The Tour can also provide access to other useful information (maps, schools, community information, etc.)
Online Marketing isn't just a "page on the web"
Ten years ago or so, having your home on the web meant it had some sort of "page". Today, online marketing goes way beyond that! As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors even created a specific, comprehensive training program (called e-PRO) specifically designed to train agents on effectively serving the needs of buyers and sellers alike utilizing the latest technologies and online strategies. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your "online" marketing:
- Realtor.com - Probably the best know real estate website is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Ever notice that not all listings look the same? Some have virtual tours, videos, many, many photos, custom text, etc., while others do not. There IS a difference in online marketing from one agent to another. It's not just important to be "included" on Realtor.com ... it's important to be WELL MARKETED there as well!
- Online Virtual Tour - A virtual tour can be enhanced to include additional links and resources that prospective buyers will find useful. For an example, take a look at this virtual tour. And to make it even easier for you to let other people know about your home tour, custom pages are done using your own address (ie 123MainStreet.com and/or 123MainStreet.eHomeSmart.com)
- Listing Syndication - There are many tools for "syndication" of your property information. We utilize many heavily trafficed websites (like Trulia, Zillow, Google Base, Yahoo Classifieds, and many, many more) to get your home exposed to more buyers, more quickly, and more effectively!
- IDX (Internet Data Exchange) and/or VOW (Virtual Office Websites) - Remember the comment above about MLS exposure, and how it's much different today than in years passed? Have you ever been on an real estate website and noticed you could see some basic information about lots of homes on the market, even perform your own home search? The site you were on was no doubt either an IDX or VOW site. Both are made available in cooperation with the area's MLS service. There are numerous rules governing who can participate and the nature of the information that can be shared. It's important to note that NOT ALL listings in the MLS are included in that sharing ... a listing office or a listing agent may choose not to include their listings. If you want to maximize your exposure to more prospective buyers, insist on working with an agent who participates in data exchange.
- Online Social Networking - While social networks can be great just for fun, they also serve a valuable purpose in getting the word out about homes for sale. Remember that old commercial that said "and you tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on"? Social networking brings that concept into the 21st century. Sites like LinkedIn, FaceBook, ActiveRain, Twitter (yes, even Twitter!), etc., each provide great venues for "getting the word out" about your home! If you're not working with an agent who aggressively markets through such sites, you may be missing out on your best prospects!
- eMail Distribution - Utilizing a variety of links to helpful resources coupled with "web flyers" that can be emailed and printed out, email serves as yet another valuable tool for increasing your exposure to potential buyers
Once a buyer has been attracted and an offer has been made, the first critical phase of your sale has completed. However, that's precisely what the "marketing" of your home has done...helped you to and through a "phase". However, it's gotten you no where if a transaction that meets your goals and objectives doesn't close escrow. In other words, until there's a successful negotiation of a contract, until all the critical steps in the "transaction" have been completed, even the greatest marketing in the world would be useless! That's why your choice as to who will be included on your "team" is so important. Choosing a well-qualified, experienced "partner" in the process can make all the difference in the world between successfully achieving your goals and not.