If you have a listing that has been sitting on the market for longer than you thought it would, it might be time to get back to basics and put a little more time and money into marketing the property.
A home that might have sold for over list price in less than a day with multiple offers two months ago, even with crappy iPhone photos and monstrous dust bunnies under the coffee table, is going to need a little more love now that we are deep into fall, even if inventory is still at historically low levels.
Here is a list of action items that might give your listing that extra little oomph that it needs to get a few more showings and hopefully find its new owner — of course, not everything on this list will be appropriate for every property in every market, but even if you can take one or two of these ideas and give them your all, it’s better than just avoiding your seller’s phone calls and watching those days on market pile up, right?
1. Bring someone in with a fresh eye. Can you rearrange the staging to change the energy of the house? Does it need some young, fresh or seasonal elements to attract a new demographic? Is it feeling dusty, tired or too mature at this price point in this neighborhood? Take a look at this blog post to see the difference that staging and photos can make!
2. Add floor plans to the listing photos so that people can get an idea for the flow of the rooms. This is especially important if you are competing with new construction or have a floor plan that has been changed through remodeling that might not be obvious from the photos.
3. Add neighborhood/lifestyle photos so that people understand the vibe of the community. Now that most MLSs allow 35-plus photos, there is plenty of space to include photos in addition to those of the property itself.
4. Be honest: Are the property photos really the BEST that they could be? Or did you cheap out thinking that the home would sell quickly? If you need to hire a pro, do it. There’s nothing more important than awesome photos when it comes to real estate marketing.
5. Rewrite the property description. Tell a story. Don’t just list the features — convey how it feels to live in the home and community.
For example, instead of writing this:
An amazing opportunity priced to sell! MUST SEE! Historic details throughout-original pocket doors, hardwood floors and woodwork, stained glass, ornate fixtures, built ins. Painstakingly maintained and renovated, this treasured house lives like a modern day home with high ceilings and an open, inviting floor plan that flows perfectly; an entertainer’s dream. An elegant master suite, updated kitchen and baths offer all the amenities of new homes. French doors open to patio and professionally landscaped garden area with a wrap around yard -ideal for relaxing with family and friends. Walkable to award winning restaurants, neighborhood boutiques, coffee shops and gathering places. Perfectly located in the heart of all that northwest Denver has to offer! In zone 1 for priority enrollment for Academia Ana Marie Sandoval Dual language/Montessori school.
Try writing this:
Homes like this don’t come up for sale very often in Denver’s most popular neighborhood. From the moment you walk in, you will feel the love in the details … whether enjoying a handcrafted cocktail on the patio in the wrap-around yard, or a glass of bubbly in the new master bath, you’ll enjoy the luxurious upgrades that make this historic gem feel like home. The perfect combination of original charm and thoughtful modern convenience, you’ll love strolling home from some of Denver’s most popular eateries, jogging through the tree-lined streets lined with eclectic architecture, lingering over coffee at a nearby cafe, entertaining friends in the fantastic indoor/outdoor floor plan, and creating delicious meals at home in the gourmet chef’s kitchen. You are going to love living here.
6. Use a service like Myonlineyardsign.com to brand your photos on Zillow and Trulia. As the listing agent, you’re the one best equipped to answer questions about the property; it’s a shame to let those “online sign calls” go to an agent who is probably not only not familiar with the property, but likely doesn’t know anything specific about the subdivision, community, HOA, schools, amenities, etc.
7. Change the main photo on the listing to something completely different — and do this regularly. Sometimes consumers who have been browsing the listings daily and passing yours by will take another look if they see a new photo pop up!
8. List the property on Craigslist every three days, using a different ad format every time, as well as a different subject line. You would be shocked at how many people still look for homes on Craigslist when they are relocating or even buying in their own city.
9. Decorate the exterior of the house for Halloween. Go over the top so that people will stop and notice. If the house is vacant, hand out great treats to trick-or-treaters with a property info card or your business card attached (or provide the same for your seller to hand out if they are going to be home). Invite people in for a quick bite to eat/cocktail and tour of the property; the neighbors are always curious about homes that are for sale, and parents love to take a break from begging for candy to warm up/eat some quick grown-up food (chili in to-go cups is a fun idea, as is spiked cider that they can take with them to get them through the rest of the treat trail). Also, decorate for the winter holidays. (Hopefully you won’t need to. …)
10. Write blog posts about the neighborhood, local restaurant reviews and upcoming community events, and find ways to tie in links back to the listing.
11. Write an article about the house, and include as much history about it as possible, and post it as many places as possible (in Denver, I suggest your or your company’s blog, and also sending it to the Denver Post, HubSpot, Westword, the Examiner, Medium, Hooked on Houses, etc.) Where do people read about housing and the real estate market in your area? I bet they are always looking for fresh content.
12. Are you holding open houses regularly? You should be — just ask Susie Best from Live Urban who sold her new listing at her open house last weekend! How about a broker open? Give away a gift card, Fitbit, Kindle or some other item of value and invite all local agents using an e-flier. Email the agents you know and beg them to attend; they need to see the house to sell the house!
13. This might be a great opportunity to create a lifestyle video to highlight this amazing home’s best features and also serve as a long-term marketing piece for you. Here are a few videos for inspiration:
14. Is it time to start thinking about possibly renting the house out for the winter? If this is a possibility/necessity, start listing it as for sale/possible lease and list it on all of the rental sites. You never know, someone who is thinking that they need to rent first might fall in love with it and buy it anyway.
15. Readjust seller expectations. We have seen a drastic change in the majority of markets over the last 30-60 days. Average days on market have gone up, showings have slowed, and prices are no longer dramatically increasing month over month. Make sure your seller is aware of these factors.
16. Take a fresh look at the comps and your pricing strategy. Now that many markets have hit a seasonal slowdown, it’s not surprising that homes are taking a bit longer to sell, and it’s more important than ever to price your listings strategically from day one and to set your clients’ expectations appropriately.
We’re feeling a big movement toward “back to basics.” Giving every listing full investment and effort is part of every listing agent’s job. If you’ve gotten a bit lazy with your property preparation and marketing, now’s the time to step it up: You are sure to see the return on investment in lower days on market, more showings and happy clients.
Stacie Staub is a broker associate and the director of marketing for LIVE Urban Real Estate in Denver, Colorado.