Guide to LISTING & MARKETING YOUR HOMEList your Home for Sale
Once you've set your asking price, it's time to get the word out about your home. In the real estate game, the more exposure, the better. Your first step? Writing a great property description that'll catch potential buyer's attention and pique their interest.
Writing an Effective Property DescriptionThink of your property description as advertising copy. Now consider what you prefer to read: Long, meandering descriptions filled with breathless adjectives or language that’s clear, direct and descriptive?
When you’re creating your property description, avoid technical jargon or confusing words. Copy should be clean, simple and to the point, all while keeping commonly used Internet search words in mind. Start with the basics, such as:
• Location – address or street intersections if you prefer to not list your physical address
• Zip code
• Neighborhood name
• Historic district name, if applicable
• Selling price
Move on to the home’s description, including items such as:
• Square footage
• Number of bathrooms
• Number of bedrooms
• Year constructed
• Tangible features such as fireplaces, garages and finished attics or basements
Now it’s time to entice the buyer with descriptions of the home’s upgrades and special features, such as:
• Upgraded kitchens or bathrooms
• New appliances or roofs
• Wood floors
• Crown molding
• Organized closets
• Bay windows
• Central air conditioning
• Outdoor features such as backyards, fences, patios and grills
Keep details simple and focus on features that tend to appeal to the broadest number of buyers. Avoid mentioning features that don’t appeal to everyone or require maintenance, such as swimming pools, saunas and gardens.
The most effective ads let the buyer know the necessary details without weighing them down with too much information – and without providing details that might dissuade them from coming to see your home. Remember, you’ve got a limited amount of space in which to make your point, so make every word count.
PhotographsPotential home buyers love to see pictures, so the more, the better. Before you start shooting, clean up that clutter! Buyers don’t want to look at a messy kitchen counter, an overflowing trash can or your kids’ bikes scattered all over the yard. In fact, they don’t want to see your possessions at all; you want them to be able to imagine their own possessions in your house.
The goal is create a clean, neutral look that showcases your home’s best features. To that end, give your home a deep cleaning, clear away any clutter, mow the lawn, move furniture around if it looks better, and do whatever it takes to present your home in the best possible light.
And speaking of light, when it comes to photos, good lighting can make a world of difference. For interior shots, turn on as many lights as possible, turn off your camera’s flash and take photos at twilight, when the light coming in from outside most closely matches interior light levels.
Interior shots look more spacious and airy when you shoot from an angle, rather than straight on, and try not to shoot three walls at a time, as this can create a closed-in, shoebox effect. Try using a tripod and shooting from about chest level instead.
For outdoor shots, avoid shadows by shooting at dusk or on an overcast day. Remove flags and other seasonal decorations to create a clean, neutral look. Shoot from an angle and add perspective to your pictures by standing atop a ladder, from a low angle, or adding an object to the foreground.
Take as many pictures as possible to increase the number of great shots that you can use on your website and in your promotional materials.
Walk-Through VideoCreate a virtual tour for prospective home buyers with a walk-through video. Today’s digital technology makes it easy; simply grab your smart phone or digital camera and walk slowly through your home, focusing attention on what you feel are the three to five best qualities.
Your video should run between 60 and 75 seconds; any longer, and you risk higher numbers of viewers turning the video off before it reaches its conclusion. As with the property description, keep your narration to the point. Sometimes, less is more. Avoid stating the obvious or talking like a tour guide – “Here’s the bathroom, here’s the living room…” Instead, focus on using action words to describe those special things about your home. “You’ll enjoy cooking in this newly updated kitchen. Store all of your extra stuff in this fully finished attic. Unwind after a hard day at work on the back deck – just look at the beautiful view!”
You don’t need to go overboard by hiring models or adding music. In fact, overdoing it may make potential buyers feel like they’re being manipulated, so keep it realistic, light and simple. All you need to do is show all of those wonderful things about your home that you love, so potential buyers can fall in love, too.
Yard SignsThe yard sign may just be one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to drive house hunters your way. Placed at intersections in your neighborhood and, of course, in your yard, a professionally produced sign will draw potential buyer’s eyes. Signs should contain the following information in easy-to-read text:
• Home for Sale
• A “text for more information” number which returns your property’s web address
• A phone number
• A QR code linked to your property’s web address
Today’s buyers are tech-savvy consumers; your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to access information about your home. One of the best ways to do that is a QR code. With just the click of a smart phone, QR codes instantly deliver essential data to potential buyers, including:
• Property description
• Photos and images
• Video walk-though
Get OnlineNeedless to say, the Internet has revolutionized both the home selling and the home buying process in recent years. The vast majority of today’s house hunters use online resources as the first step in finding their dream home.
To increase your home’s exposures, place your property listing on as many sites as possible. NoMoreAgent.com and other online FSBO marketing sites can actually broadcast your listing to popular real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia and others and provide you with code for a nicely formatted flyer to pop into your Craigslist ad.
Depending on the demographic in your neighborhood, you may want to consider placing an ad in your local newspapers’ classified sections; many older home buyers still use the newspaper to search for real estate deals. Many newspapers have gone online, as well, allowing you to reach more readers.
And don’t overlook the power of social networking! Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer an easy, yet effective, way to get the word out – and more than 56 percent of people around the world have accounts. Simply let your friends know that you’re selling your home and ask them to share the word.
MLSThen there’s the MLS or Multiple Listing Service. For years, this online database has been the big dog when it comes to getting exposure for homes. Long the domain of choice for professional real estate agents and brokers, today’s home buyers use this database to access info on homes for sale, too.
The MLS contains all the details, pictures and sales data about listed homes in one place. It’s organized by region and contains listings of both FSBO homes and broker-represented properties. While an MLS listing isn’t a necessity, some data indicates that up to 90 percent of homes that sell are listed on the MLS at some point.
As mentioned in a prior chapter, the decision to list your property on your local MLS will, in most instances, obligate you to pay between 1 percent and 3 percent to a buyer agent who brings a buyer for your property. However, an MLS listing will likely help sell your home in less time by increasing its exposure, which might be an attractive way to go. Many online services provide an MLS posting for a flat fee, rather than requiring you to sign a full listing agreement, which would obligate you to pay up to an additional 3 percent to a listing agent at closing.
Open HousesHolding an open house is a great way to get potential buyers -- and their real estate agents – into your home while increasing your property’s exposure. Most open houses are held on Sunday afternoon and last for a few hours.
Prepare your home just as you would for a showing by cleaning, de-cluttering and going for that neutral, appeals-to-everyone look. Have flyers with photos and your property description at the ready.
During the open house, you must act as your home’s best advocate. After all, no one knows your home as well as you do, so don’t be afraid to emphasize all of the things that make it special. Share the great details about the neighborhood, too.
Spread the WordWord of mouth is a great tool. A call, email or text to everyone you know -- from friends and family to co-workers, acquaintances and random people you meet at the gym -- can spread the word about your home. Just let people know that you’re selling your home, and ask them to pass the word along in order to increase your market exposure.
Sales StrategiesIn today’s market, a bit of strategic thinking can make a big difference. Put yourself in the mind of a buyer: What is important to them? What are they looking for in a home?
Of course, some factors remain the same, namely price, location and condition. But after the tumultuous economy of the past few years, many home buyers are seeking specific features and types of properties. Here’s how to appeal to these populations.
Rent vs. BuyAlthough studies indicate that 66 percent of renters would rather buy, many are leery of investing in another home after the foreclosure crisis. Help them understand the value of buying versus renting by creating a simple sheet that uses actual data from your home to describe the monthly costs of home ownership vs. renting, such as:
• Mortgage payments, calculated with down payment
• Homeowner’s insurance
• Utility bills
• Property taxes
• HOA or condo fees
• Tax deductions
As rent costs go up, these monthly costs look more attractive to potential home buyers.
Good Things Come in Small PackagesAnother trend is the buyer who prefers a smaller home that’s more versatile and requires less maintenance. Highlight your home’s flexibility by emphasizing:
• Multi-purpose spaces, a term that signifies an open floor plan
• Storage options, such as built-in pantries or organized closets
• Cozy, comfy spaces, rather than formal, grand spaces; use photos to show seating areas that look friendly and warm
Going GreenToday’s buyers are more concerned with energy efficiency than ever. If you’ve added any eco-friendly retro-fits or more efficient appliances, highlight your green creds in your marketing materials.
WalkableIt’s still all about location, so make it easy for potential home buyers to notice how convenient your home is. Studies indicate that homes with higher WalkScore walkability ratings – or homes where walking is most convenient – tend to command higher purchase prices. Not surprisingly, the higher the WalkScore, the higher the price.
Create a walking map that shows your home’s location in relation to amenities like grocery stores, schools, libraries, post offices and coffee shops. If all amenities are driving distance-only, show approximate drive time in minutes.
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