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Avoid House Marketing Mistakes When Selling in a Slow Market

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UPSIDE DOWN HOUSE

A common marketing mistake is wrong photo orientation.

© Big Stock Photo
When real estate markets cool down, typically inventory increases and the number of buyers decrease. Slowing market conditions make it more difficult to sell homes, yet some homes still sell. So, why do some homes gets offers and others sit on the market? The answer has very little to do with the home itself, as I've heard real estate agents claim. More likely it lies within the poor quality of the marketing efforts. Here are mistakes I see sellers and their agents repeat over and over. Don't let it happen to you.

BAD MARKETING: Uploading Badly Shot Photographs Online

Pictures speak volumes and are noticed before the written word. Since it's the first thing a potential buyer will see, why leave a bad first impression? The job of a photo is to entice the buyer to want to see more of the home in person. It should not give the buyer a reason to cross the home off her list. Don't publish photos like these:

  • Pictures too dark with drapes / blinds closed
  • Photos turned sideways
  • Photos of cluttered rooms
  • Uncropped photos with unnecessary elements in the pictures
  • Photos of pets sleeping on the sofa
  • Not submitting enough photos -- or uploading only one unflattering photo of the front of the house
  • High resolution photos without adjusting pixels for the Internet

BAD MARKETING: Withholding Important Information or Descriptive Comments

When there are tons of homes on the market, simply tossing out a property address while noting the numbers of bedrooms and baths is insufficient information for a home buyer. It doesn't tell a buyer why she should make an appointment to see the home. Good marketing tells a buyer why this particular home is better than the dozens of others on the market. Sellers should focus on:

GOOD MARKETING

  • What makes the home unique?
  • What was the motivating factor that made the seller buy the home in the first place?
  • How can a negative factor be addressed that will accentate its positive attributes?

BAD MARKETING: Underestimating the Importance of Broker / Agent Previews

Just like buyers, agents don't have the time to look at every home on the market. So, what can you do to entice them to come see yours? Because agents are more likely to sell a house they have toured, sellers need to attract selling agents.

GOOD MARKETING

  • Catered lunches. Go beyond the ordinary sandwiches and bottled water. Food motivates, and don't let anybody kid you about this. Be creative with culinary selections.
  • Offer drawings for small gifts or gift certificates.
  • Give online certificates Compare Prices that can be immediately e-mailed.

BAD MARKETING: Restricting Access for Showings

If an agent can't easily show your home, she is going to show another agent's listing instead. Don't give an agent a reason to pass up your home. Any of these can hamper showings:

  • No lockbox on the property
  • Restricted hours to show
  • 24-hour notice
  • By appointment only

GOOD MARKETING

  • Call first, lock box

BAD MARKETING: Offering Less Commission Than Other Listings

It's not that agents are greedy creatures who show only high-fee listings--which is against the law, although some are highly motivated solely by income--but agents tend to view lower-commissioned listings as those in which the seller isn't very motivated to sell.

  • If the seller isn't motivated, it could mean the seller isn't willing to negotiate on price.
  • In slow moving markets, buyers expect to negotiate.
  • Agents whose buyers want to negotiate will show only listings where negotiation is possible.

BAD MARKETING: Not Including Buyer Incentives

Some multi-million-dollar listings offer sports cars as a home buyer incentive, but it doesn't have to be anything that expensive. An incentive doesn't even need to cost the seller if the home price is structured to account for the discount. Here are typical incentives:

GOOD MARKETING

  • $$ credit toward the buyer's closing costs
  • Home protection plan
  • Pre-paid homeowner association fees for a year
  • Buy-down mortgage interest rate
  • Weekend getaway for two

BAD MARKETING: Saying No to Print Advertising

You can't keep your home sale a secret and expect to sell it. Whether you pay for advertising or your agent does, you need to let everyone know it is for sale. The best way to do that is to advertise.

GOOD MARKETING

  • Sunday classifieds in daily newspaper
  • Picture classifieds, if offered during the week
  • Local weekly or bi-weekly newspaper
BAD MARKETING: Saying No to Virtual Tours

Buyers today begin their home searches online. There is no better way to initially view a home than in the comfort of one's own pajamas at home in front of the computer, looking at a 360-degree tour. Some buyers won't even consider a property listing if it doesn't include a virtual tour. Basic requirements are:

GOOD MARKETING

  • Minimum of two spins and preferrably more if space lends itself.
  • High resolution photos that buyers can print themselves.
  • Ability to download photos so buyers can e-mail the pictures to friends / family.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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