Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to sell a house: basics and myths

How to sell a house: basics and myths

Realtor Notebook

Do most real estate agents really understand how to sell a house? What could be more basic?
This isn't 2005 and so we can't sell them all, but it isn't because we don't try -- it is because in most markets there are still more sellers than buyers.
For me, the home-selling process starts with meeting the homeowners on making a listing presentation that is so compelling that they know I will be their best choice to be their real estate agent.
As the market is an ever changing environment, I am always amending my listing presentation so it factors in what the competition is doing and, more importantly, provides the client with enough market knowledge that they look to me as somewhat of an expert to sell their home quickly. There are some basics in my presentation that have not changed over the years, like communication with sellers, Internet advertising, buyer clients broadcasts, Broker opens, Public Opens, to which I add my local Open House Websites and Neighborhood Farming (just listed brochures to see if your neighbors may know someone that wants to move to your town).
The humble, For-Sale sign and MLS Listing Services are still powerful ways to market real estate, but a lot has changed and in this highly competitive buyer climate, you must do the most you can to make your home stand out as polished and then make sure you take and feature as many amazing photographs as are allowed and respective websites.
Knowing what the competition is doing isn't hard. I learn about some of it from reading marketing materials, viewing webinars on the Internet and attending NCJAR symposiums.  The rest I learn from my clients and from prospective sellers and my fellow professional Realtors.
I know the sales pitches used by the big companies because their agents are the ones who I am competing with most of the time. One of those companies puts a lot of emphasis on its website, so I make sure to point out that if I list a home it will be on that same website and more!
Another company likes to sell the idea of market share. I work for Keller Williams, now the area's 2nd largets market share agency after only 2 years in this market.  We may not be the number one market share yet, but like Avis--we try harder and more importantly, we work as a team which is huge cultural advantage and one of the primary reasons I chose Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct.
If sellers still favor "market share," I ask them how they think market share will speed the sale of their home, and explain that neither buyers nor their agents typically search for homes by brokerage brand.
The other big players like to emphasize agent networking. I remember how the networking worked; I got e-mails announcing new listings from agents in markets 30 miles away. Today, I network with agents who do business in my area through Broker Open Houses (and it doesn't matter which company they are with) as well as broadcasting to agents within a 60 mile radius to capture buyers that may be relocating to the area.  The bigger the "net" the more potential buyers you can capture!
When I examine the marketing strategies that I use, I realize that most of the tactics are being used because it is what is commonly done by all agents or because the activities support the beliefs of the sellers, and it is what they expect.
For those clients that are not convinced that open houses sell homes, I have to disagree as my most recent sale came as a client I met just as i was about to close up from a Public Open House and we ended up working out a mutually satisfactory deal in 24 hours and closing just 2 weeks later!
As for QR (quick response) codes help, they are being bandied about as the future, but as someone who considers themselves Tech Savvy, i think QR codes are a bit ahead of the curve at this point.
When possibl, I try to market your home with video on You Tube.  You may know You Tube for sensationalized videos, but You Tube is the 2nd largest search engine after Google!  If we want to sell faster, a video may makes a difference in the marketing process.
The KEY TO SELLING A HOME, above all else is to make sure your home is PRICED CORRECTLY! Correctly priced, clean homes that are in good repair and that are accessible to buyers, and that have been staged, sell the fastest if they have amazing photographs and are on the MLS.  And, while the majority of agents use the CMA (Comparable Market Analysis) available on the MLS, as a former EVP of Sale and Marketing, I found this type of CMA too simplistic and therefore prone to errors!  For instance, just because you have the same number of rooms and bedrooms as another neighborhood house, doesn't mean your kitchens are in the same condition, your room sizes are superior to the competition and other amenities are taken into consideration when providing an estimated value for your home.  I am trained in Advanced CMA which takes anywhere from 10-20 more variables into consideration and uses NJ State wide statistics to make the corresponding adjustments in value.  Jeffrey Otteau, of Otteau Valuation Group has statistics that support that over pricing your home is incredibly detrimental to the final price you sell your home for and that you really can't under price a home as the more attractive/better value your home presents to buyers, the more buyers will be interested and you might be fortunate to get a multiple bid which usually produces a higher sales price for your home!
So often sellers do not really understand what it will take to sell their home. They would rather believe the marketing myths they have learned through our advertising, and throw in a statue of St. Joseph for extra luck.
I do what I say I am going to do in my listing presentation, because I said I "would" do it.
I hear all sorts of crazy ideas about how to sell real estate. Much of what I do is really customer service -- it is what I need to do to keep my clients happy (which usually results in multiple client referrals) so that I have the opportunity to sell their home.

Mark Slade
Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty, Inc.
181 Maplewood Avenue
Maplewood, NJ 07040

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