In a buyer's market, it is twice as important to increase traffic over other types of markets. If you aren't getting enough showings because the exterior of your home looks like every other home in the neighborhood -- whether it's a single family home or a townhome / condo, it might not be price. It might be because there is an abundance of inventory on the market, and buyers have too much to choose from.
TIP: You want your phone to ring with a request for a showing. Buyers will come as a result of your phone ringing. So don't concentrate on anything else but getting your phone to ring. Be focused on this single concept.
Here are 10 Ways to Increase Traffic
1) Make Your Home Easy to Show
At a minimum, your MLS listing should read "call first, lockbox." The "call first" is to let you know that a buyer or agent is coming over. If you request appointments, have hung a "by appointment only" sign on your sign post or ask that agents / buyers tour only during certain hours, agents will likely show another listing that isn't so restrictive. Don't require that your own agent be present to show because your agent cannot possibly be available 24 hours a day.
2) Use a Lockbox
Lockboxes allow agents to show your home if you are not home. If you do not answer your phone, the agent should leave a message and go directly to show. If you live in a gated complex, put the lockbox on or near the outside gate with the gate code inside.
3) Offer a Competitive Buyer's Agent Commission
Check your listing agreement to determine if your listing agent is splitting the commission you are paying at least 50/50 with the buyer's agent. It's your money. You can direct how much of that fee goes to the buyer's agent. Or consider increasing the commission to pay the buyer's agent more than other buyer's agents receive in your area.
For example, last year I listed a hard-to-sell condo that was on the market almost 90 days. In an area where the traditional fees were 6%, with 2.5% going to the selling agent, we raised the commission to 7% and offered the buyer's agent 4%. I reduced my listing commission a little and we gave the buyer's agent more. It sold within days after the increase.
4) Increase Traffic Through Market Exposure
- Think about your target audience. Bump up marketing. Send direct-mail postcards to all surrounding homes and to areas that attract buyers to your neighborhood.
- Advertise in local weekly newspapers.
- Advertise in several sections of your daily newspaper on the weekends. It's not enough to advertise solely under the neighborhood classification. Look at directories and photo galleries.
- Advertise online at Craig's List, Google,Trulia and other free online subscriptions.
- If you have enough time to meet publication deadlines, consider home magazines.
Take a home video and put it on You Tube
5) Cater Lunch for Broker's Tour and Offer Drawing
In Sacramento, where I work, it is common for listing agents to pick up the cost of a catered lunch. Instead of zipping through a home on tour, agents will generally linger in the home, noticing details a fast tour would miss. Offer a drawing for a free gift certificate or game tickets.
6) Host an Open House Extravaganza
Organize other sellers in your neighborhood to work together on advertising a neighborhood open house or ask your agent to blitz the area. Publicize the event everywhere.
- Hire a sign waiver, somebody to stand on a prominent street corner with an open house sign arrow and spin it, waive it toward your home. It might cost $20 an hour, but it gets attention.
- Serve hot dogs and soft drinks.
- Hire a clown to entertain children.
- Buy brightly colored helium balloons and hang up streamers.
7) Bribe Buyers
Offer every home buyer who tours your home a free book or prize. Enter their name into a drawing for a weekend getaway or big sporting event. Do the drawing 30 to 60 days out. Advertise the incentive in the newspaper, online and in your listing.
8) Send Out E-Flyers
It's relatively easy and inexpensive to create an e-flyer. V-flyers is one online source that is free. Then e-mail this flyer to every person in your e-mail address book. Ask your agent to send e-flyers to every agent who works in your area.
9) Make a Limited-Time Offer
Advertise a limited-time offer that buyers can snatch up if they act quickly. Everybody wants a deal, and buyers are more motivated if that offer is going to soon vanish. For example, offer to:
- Pay down the buyer's mortgage interest rate for several years.
- Credit a percentage of the sales price toward the buyer's closing costs.
- Prepay taxes or insurance for a year.
10) Co-Op Your Advertising
Check with real estate affiliates such as mortgage brokers, property inspectors, appraisers, insurance brokers -- anybody who stands to make money as a result of your sale. Ask if they would be willing to co-op advertising with you by helping to pay for some or all of your marketing by including their information in the efforts. Everybody needs to market, and real estate vendors might already have a pipeline to the buying public that you can tap.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.