When selling a home , the marketing effort must be coordinated on all fronts. It also must be superior to the competition. This is especially true in a buyers' market where the homes sitting on the market seemingly outnumber the potential home buyers. In such an environment, you must lift your home out from this crowd and highlight it in the best way possible. You must out-think the competition.
All good marketing efforts begin life as a sound, basic plan and then evolves to fit the particular property and situation. Cut from whole cloth and then tailor-made, such a plan will incorporate innovative new ideas and "rearrange" old ones.
1. Select a Quality Realtor . There are also some who are little more than "order takers" who literally can't properly write out a contract, much less have the hard-won knowledge needed to position your home in the most appropriate and effective way for your particular market. So how do you find such an experienced, market aggressive realtor? Ask around. Check with friends and get some names. When selling in today's market, you need to be in the hands of a practicing "doctor" and not someone eager to practice on you.
2. The market evaluation should compare your home with at least 10 currently active competitive listings, three recent competitive sales and three competitive and now inactive listings which didn't sell. Drive over and check out these benchmark properties yourself to ensure the realtor has put your home in the right "ballpark". If you disagree, find out the reasoning as to why the realtor has so placed your home. The reasons could be good ones indeed. (Or vice versa.)
3. Once you've vetted all three choices, go with the realtor whose combination of experience, proven performance and action-plan for your home is the most impressive. But be careful not to confuse impressive with unattainable.
4. Ensure your home is listed on the realtor's personal website and other media like ethnic newspaper and magazine. The more exposure, the better.
5. Underline to the realtor that you wish to be kept informed of the sales progress at least once a week during the entire listing period. Every time the home is shown to prospective buyers, ensure the realtor informs you in advance and also gives you a feedback as to the viewer's reaction to the home. On the other hand, don't overdo it. Be courteous and be careful not to nag the realtor. When dealing with a professional, be professional.
6. Price Your Home Right: Yes, we all need and want the best price. But be realistic. It might do wonders for the ego and daydreams, but a high price tag does little if it doesn't come accompanied with a sale. If anything, it has kept your home effectively out of the market. Once you and your realtor have agreed upon an asking price based upon the aforementioned market evaluation, bring in a reality check. Based on your understanding of the competition, is the pricing realistic? This is particularly important in a market where prices are falling.
7. Create a "Benefit and Feature" Sheet For Your Home: Reach back in time and remember why you bought the home in the first place. What caught your eye, what appealed to you? Write these reasons down; more often than not, new buyers will also be attracted to these same features. List every good point, every benefit, your property and your neighborhood enjoys. Today, people want information. Lots of it. Think about the basics and spell them out. A good agent will know the answers already, but nonetheless, these basic features should be highlighted in your feature sheet.
8. Place Your Home on the MLS: If a home is to sell, it must have maximum exposure. The Multiple Listing Service will give it that exposure. As well, ensure your home is put on the Agents Open or MLS Agents Tour so as to educate other realtors as to the home's potential. But two months is all you need to get on.
9. Buy Some Extra Enthusiasm: Human beings almost always act in their own self-interest first. Take advantage of this to promote some extra interest in your own property. Offer something special to encourage realtors to bring in those offers. Depending upon how hard it is to sell your home (higher price, tough area, unique features that appeal to few, future potential versus today's reality), offer extra commission to the realtor who brings in the sale...but only if he or she brings it in at the full asking price. As most offers are invariably lower, it's unlikely you'll actually end up paying the extra commission, but it does work as an incentive.
10. Advertise: Consider a cost-effective advertising campaign and review such a plan with your realtor. How big an advertisement? Placed where? How often? Review the ad itself with the realtor and test-market it past a few unbiased friends, associates and so forth. Keep your ego out of it.
11. Let Nothing Escape the Net: Insist that the realtor presents to you all and any offers that come in, no matter how low or seemingly impossible. If someone is willing to write an offer, be considerate enough to see it. Besides, it gives you a better idea of just how the market is reacting to your property.
12. First Impressions Do Count: Fix up your home but do it with "resale" in mind: take care of the eye-catching areas and don't waste the effort (and money) on the rest. The first thing a potential buyers sees is the front porch or entrance. Fix that wobbly front step or squeaky door. Repaint the front door, bathrooms and kitchen. Use off-white or general neutral colors only. If the rug is frayed or stained, consider removing them and going with hardwood floors (assuming you've got them and they're in reasonable shape). Again, sell the "idea" of the place's renovation potential but don't waste the effort to carry it through and do the actual doing. Let the new owners do it. But with that said, there are certain largish renovations which may add more cost-effective resale value than others.
13. Spread the Word: Hand out the feature sheet and unique offer/special commission information to everyone you know, including your secretaries, part-time staff and whomever. You never know who the information will get passed on to next.
14. Don't be afraid to be Different: Agents regularly send out "I Just Listed" flyers to other homes in the neighborhood in the hope of engendering new business. Fine, but check out the flyer and make sure he or she lists the special features and special incentives of your home and not just the standard ubiquitous "vanilla-flavored" preprinted card. Be different. Again, you never know who ends up reading this detailed information. And again, nothing succeeds like success.
15. Declutter and then declutter again. Depersonalize and neutralize. The first items that should go in those packing boxes: family photos, collections and just about anything else that says "you." Show the home from its best possible side. Have people see how they would feel if they owned the home. Developers have show suites and show homes for a reason.
16. Stage your home! Have a professional come in and help. Stand in the doorway to find each room's focal point, and use furniture placement to highlight that. The back of your sofa shouldn't block the view of the fireplace, for example. Remove any extraneous pieces of furniture. "Re-position" them into another room ... or into storage altogether. A wingback chair that's crowding the family room might help create a nice reading nook in the master bedroom.
There are a number of reasons why homes don't sell: overpriced, poor location, poor condition, intense competition as many similar homes similarly priced are all fighting for attention. Homes that do sell are those that are tended diligently by the professional realtor, are priced right (as in just below the competition) and have something unique about them that attracts the buyer's attention in the first place.
You have the right to demand an attentive, professional, upbeat realtor, a person who creates a solid, comprehensive action plan (in writing) and does so in a measurable way (number of showings, numbers of interested buyers, etc.). A good realtor keeps you informed all the way. Be focused. Insist that your realtor be equally as focused. There is no such thing as accidental success. It's always earned and always comes with a price.