UPDATED POST - I was going to freshen this post up but so much has changed that I wrote an entirely new post in October, 2017, that can be read here.
Most sellers do not understand the marketing aspect of their properties. They don't understand that the biggest reason their property will sell is because of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and the correct price. They expect other forms of marketing but don't know how these methods work and what they're really used for. I'm going to explain some marketing tools to debunk the myths.
The MLS (Multiple Listing Service)
I would get my home listed on the Northern Illlinois Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is the reason most listings will sell. Most buyers will use a real estate agent to purchase their next property. Because the MLS is a system of shared property listings, once the buyer chooses the agent they're going to use they can get access to the local MLS via their agent (by e-mail or the agent's website that provides MLS search). Here is the Chicago Suburbs MLS search I currently provide on my website.
If a buyer calls me from my website MLS search I can show them any of the active properties available. They might call me regarding a completely different listing, maybe from my real estate sign, for example. But that house is not in their price range or doesn't have the amenities they need.
I establish a rapport with this buyer prospect and set them up with an automated e-mail property search and we end up looking at homes together. Most of these properties will not be my listings which is the synergy created by our MLS.
Having my listing on the MLS allows every single agent in the Northern IL MLS have access to my listing. Showing instructions will be on the MLS print-out so the agent can set an appointment to see my property. This is the most important marketing tool to sell a home and that is why most For Sale By Owners (FSBO's) end up listing with a real estate agent.
I wouldn't even bother! Sellers think when we advertise their home we're expecting to sell their home from the ad. That is not how it works. When we advertise we know that a home rarely sells to someone who called from the particular ad. It's almost like winning the lottery to have that happen.
So why do we advertise? To get other buyers and/or sellers. That's right - that caller will probably cross the home off their list but maybe there was a good rapport established over the phone with the prospect and the agent. Hopefully, the agent can find a home for the buyer based on their particular needs (price range, areas, amenities, etc.).
The other reason we advertise is to make our sellers happy. Sellers don't realize the truth about advertising. They don't know that print advertising is one of the least effective methods to get their property sold. So agents advertise (many brokerages have completely dropped all print advertising) to keep their sellers happy and to hopefully garner some new buyer prospects to work with.
The last reason doesn't always occur because some buyers hang the phone up before we can establish a rapport. Many buyers that call around are already working with an agent or have their agent picked out for when they're ready to actually start looking.
Have you noticed how home magazines are getting thinner? That's because real estate agents refuse to pay outrageous advertising fees for zero to very little return.
One of our most popular newspapers for the southwest suburbs, The Daily Southtown, has just merged with the Star newspaper, forming the new Southtown Star. This was a popular real estate advertising newspaper for many years. When you look in the real estate section you'll find mostly fsbo listings. Why?
Because these classified ads do not work! Buyers want to see photos, they don't want to read through multiple print ads to try to find the perfect place for them. There are much more efficient ways to search for a home. Why do fsbo's get calls, then? Are they, really? I'm not so sure about that. The majority of calls fsbo's get from their newspaper ads are from real estate agents trying to list their homes. If they do get a buyer inquiry it is usually an investor trying to get a deal.
A popular newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, has completely deleted it's real estate advertising section. That goes to show how few agents were advertising their listings in the newspaper. I guess there weren't enough fsbo ads to make it worthwhile. I foresee more newspapers doing the same thing down the road. Newspapers are hurting today with Internet access readily available.
I would not bother spending a penny advertising my own listing. It doesn't work!
Real Estate Signs
I'd get the sign up asap. This is actually a very good method of getting inquiries for your property. People drive by and if they think the place looks good from the outside they will do one of two things. They'll write down the phone number on the sign and call the listing agent. Or they'll write down the address and call their own agent who will look it up on the MLS. If it's in their price range and has the amenities they want then they'll set an appointment.
It can also get the neighbors to suggest the property to their friends, family and acquaintances (unless they prefer not to live too close)! This is good for out of the way areas where the signs won't get much traffic. I live on a dead-end street so don't get a lot of traffic but I'd still put a sign up.
I wouldn't bother making them for my own home. You might be really surprised at this. But a flyer does not sell a house! Again, it's something that was created to try to market a home and is something tangible that a seller can see (and feel you're working hard for them).
If you have a real estate sign you really don't need a brochure box. What!? I can't tell you how many times I'd put 20-50 brochures in only to have the box empty the next day. I've had sellers tell me that kids took the brochures out and threw them all over the place.
I have tried every type of brochure box available and if it rains, forget it. The flyers will be ruined.
How many times have you driven past a home with an empty brochure box? It's almost impossible to keep up withkids taking them all out and even neighbors doing it. It's a cost and labor intensive marketing ploy that will not sell the home.
If buyers drive by and like the property they will inquire about it; either to the listing agent or their agent. The brochure box is just a piece of marketing fluff that fewer agents are utilizing since we know it will not produce a sale.
What about in-home brochures? I wouldn't make them for my own home. I wouldn't bother. Why? When a buyer walks through your home they either like it or they don't. If they like it they might write an offer right away. Or they might come back for a 2nd showing. That cute brochure won't make it or break it. The buyer likes your home or they don't.
But won't the brochure help them remember my home? If they like it they'll remember it. In most cases they received an e-mail listing link to the property and can go back to their computer and spend all the time they want viewing photos and descriptions and room sizes.
I can't tell you how many of my buyers have picked up brochures on homes they didn't even like, just because the brochures were there. Many times, they'd end up leaving them in my car! They took them but didn't even care to keep them.
I would get my listing on my websites. I have 2 main websites that each work a bit differently. My Chicago Suburbs real estate site appears in top slots in many search engines, including Google. If I'm not there for a specific term yet, I will be if I feel the term is worthwhile. This website has brought my real estate business to the next level. I get local visitors and a lot of relocation clients from this site.
I have multiple websites and blogs for Orland Park real estate, Homer Glen homes for sale & Oak Lawn real estate. I post real estate news and listings on them and since these are my blogs/sites, I have more control than how things appear on other real estate websites.
Other real estate portals
I'm on the fence about the many real estate portals out there, but the more buyer eyes that see your property, the better chance to get it sold. Not every real estate portal is a good thing. In the southwest suburbs, Zillow will show their "zestimate" (what they think your property is worth) that will most likely be thousands of dollars less than true market value. I don't want my home on Zillow! Many other real estate portals are just lead generating sites that appear in top search engine positions (because they have deep pockets) and siphon buyer leads to sell back to real estate agents.
I have no need for most of these sites because once again, I've never had a bona fide buyer or sale as a result of any of these sites. New real estate portals pop up every day and it's impossible to know about all of them and most of them die out. But the portals that make it are making money from advertisers they'll deluge you with or by selling you as a lead to an agent that is paying them a lot of money for the service. In my opinion, an agent that has to pay for leads in this way is probably not very successful. Use these portals at your own risk. I wouldn't bother.
But I do syndicate my seller's listings to some of them to once again give the sellers tangible evidence of marketing. Sellers don't realize that it is highly unlikely their home will sell off of one of these sites. It's as bad as print advertising but we use it just to keep our sellers happy.
I would never hold an open house on my own property. Once again, that might sound like blasphemy for a real estate agent to say! But if I wouldn't hold an open house on my own home, there must be a reason for it. The reason is that it doesn't work. It's one of the worst methods of selling a home (along with print ads).
In the 27 years I've been in the business I have never sold a home from an open house. I've advertised them, used multiple signs, offered nice marketing material for potential buyers, offered food and even conducted "group open houses" with other agents with listings in the area. I've tried everything I could think of with zero success.
I have had the same buyers come through a $75,000 condo and a $350,000 house. These were looky loos who liked to hit open houses on Sundays to see how other people live and decorate. I have felt uncomfortable and unsafe and always have a plan of escape. There have been many agents that have been attacked and even murdered at open houses. There have been homes burglarized after the thieves prospected the home via an open house.
You see, open houses are just that, they're open to all. I cannot pass visitors through a metal detector. I cannot disallow access to someone I don't feel comfortable with. I have to let every single stranger walk in that house.
Since it is one of the least effective marketing methods, it isn't worth the risk. For those that still do them, it's the same as print advertising (or most advertising methods). The agent knows that the open house will not sell the home. But they hope they find some buyer and/or seller prospects that come through the open house. That's why a lot of brand new agents will sit open houses for the more experienced listing agent - to try to find prospects they can work with.
Single property websites
It depends on how they're set up. I created a single property website for my own house. My buyers told me how they kept looking at the photos, over and over. It was easy to do once they got the url from the single property site.
With the sites I use, they provide the link from the MLS that is for virtual tours. The entire website shows up as the virtual tour (without my contact information as that is not allowed). To top it off, my single property websites also provide the virtual tour to the upgraded Showcase Realtor.com listings.
But the icing on the cake is that once I create a single property website, it gets syndicated to many other popular real estate portals. I've written about my feelings on these other websites, but sellers expect their listings to be distributed far and wide and the single property websites I use do just that.
I would not pay for a professional virtual tour for my own listing. My single property websites offer a good enough virtual tour and/or slideshow. In fact, I've seen so many bad virtual tours I'd rather not view one. I've gotten dizzy and headaches from viewing some of the tours. When they're hand made they're usually bouncy and too fast. Professional tours only allow a certain amount of rooms/photos to be used. I feel what is offered as part of my single property website provider is all that is needed and that's all I'd use for my own home.
I would definitely take as many photos of my home as possible. I can put up to 25 on Realtor.com and our MLS currently allows 16. My single property websites are limitless. Buyers want photos so I always take as many as possible.
This is one of the best marketing techniques an agent can use today! Yet I see so many listings with only the mandatory exterior photo. I can't believe that those sellers are happy with the lack of marketing efforts being made for their property. Buyers want photos! I would do this for my own property and I do the same for all of my sellers.
If all it took was a sign in the yard, a print ad in the paper, a single property website and an open house, then why would sellers still need real estate agents/brokerages to get their homes sold? Most everyone would try to save the commission and sell on their own. Only the truly busy sellers would pay for an agent to market their properties.
Yet most sellers do use a real estate agent and brokerage. And it's because the MLS is still the biggest reason a house will sell. Even in a better market, few fsbo's are lucky enough to be able to sell their own home because they only have access to the least successful marketing methods. Most of them end up listing with a real estate agent.
If you'd like to list your property with an experienced agent that knows what marketing techniques work and what don't (and still offers a diverse marketing plan), give Judy Orr a call at 708-536-8200 or use the contact form.