Marketing truly drives most home sales listings. Each piece of the listing is intended to advertise the property–from photos and virtual tours to attractive copy points on the home, neighborhood and schools. And, by putting this information in front of as many buyers as possible, you are increasing your seller’s chance at securing the highest price.

Yet the personality behind the listing–the expertise and networking–falls to the seller’s agent. The role of the seller’s agent is to advocate, publicize and negotiate the property in the minds and wallets of potential buyers and other Realtors. This is where the agent can really shine!

Imagine yourself as a tour guide at a world-renowned art museum. You are proud of the artwork, knowledgeable of the history, and glowing in your presentation of the beauty and awe of the museum’s collection. You know visitors could have visited countless other museums. What made the busy tourists stop at your museum? There are many possible reasons: the beauty and significance of the art collection; easy access to the museum; the museum’s Web site provides complete information on tour times, costs and collections; and an attractive and informative museum brochure serves as a physical reminder to put the museum on their must-see list. Marketing will sell tickets, but your role, as museum advocate, will ultimately make tourists feel confident of their visit.

The listing presentation: the spotlight is on YOU

The listing presentation can be compared to an audition. Sellers will typically interview several prospective agents, and the listing presentation is an opportunity for agents to present their marketing services, advise clients on selling techniques and specifics, such as open houses, and discuss pricing and timelines. Similar to a resume, the listing presentation is the time to highlight your success as an agent–such as your strong sales record in the client’s neighborhood, expertise in historic home sales, or powerful networking through community involvement. The more success factors you can include in your presentation, the greater you will awe potential clients.

Tips for a complete–and compelling–listing

Congratulations; you are awarded the listing. Now what? Remember all those commitments you made during the listing presentation? Sellers will look for you to deliver on those–and more. Marketing programs, such as direct mail, Internet listings, open houses and traditional newspaper ads are all ways to effectively market a property. To compete in today’s real estate market, agents must complete, at a minimum, the following steps of the listing process:

1. Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing–This comprehensive property description should include location, size, rooms, amenities, schools and even taxes. It is the buyer’s data sheet, and with this information buyers can easily scan and assess the criteria to meet their needs. And, because the MLS feeds into several real estate listing Web sites, the data you enter can be referenced by millions of potential buyers. It is a critical first step and one that must be complete and accurate, as well as compelling.

2. Web listing–According to the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of buyers are using the Internet as their first source to look at homes. How do you turn the casual Web surfer into a buyer of your property? First, a picture of the home and property are an absolute must. They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and while a photograph does not sometimes do a home justice, it is a visual that attracts the buyers’ interest. Without a picture, the listing may easily be discounted as incomplete or, worse yet, not worthy of even showing a photo: all reasons for a buyer to move on to another property.

3. Brochure–A color brochure is another necessary marketing tool. Take photos of the home’s highlights, including inside and outdoor space, inviting doorways, and if it’s a historic home, be sure to capture pieces of the home’s historic architecture.

4. Signage–‘For Sale’ signs should attract the buyer’s attention, but not distract from the look of the home. Place it in an obvious location that does not block views into or out of the home. And if using a brochure box (recommended), make sure it is always full of brochures. Again, the visual is immediate gratification of the buyer’s interest. A drive-by buyer who gets out of the car only to find no brochures will be discouraged. You’ll be lucky if they take the time to write down the address and follow up with a phone call.

Yes, there are many essential steps to the listing process. The successful broker will establish supportive marketing and listing processes so that agents have the appropriate resources to take quick, and effective, action on a new listing.

Remember, a compelling and quality listing is your best chance to sell quickly and at the highest market value for the property. Keep to the commitments of your listing presentation: it is the plan that ultimately convinced your sellers to choose you. Top performance and delivery will ensure the confidence of their choice.

Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.

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