The couple next door has listed their home with a local agent. They’ve been on the market for 90 days and haven’t sold.

The question is: What’s keeping their house from selling?

When a property comes on the market right next door to yours, most owners are watching to see how much their neighbors will get for their house. More important, potential sellers are watching to see whether the "Sold" sign pops up quickly or if the property will sit on the market for months.

Needless to say, when our neighbors listed their home, I was curious to see what type of marketing their listing agent did. Unfortunately for my neighbors, she has provided the standard package of services most agents in this area provide. In a market where the competition is fierce, this simply isn’t enough.

The couple next door has listed their home with a local agent. They’ve been on the market for 90 days and haven’t sold.

The question is: What’s keeping their house from selling?

When a property comes on the market right next door to yours, most owners are watching to see how much their neighbors will get for their house. More important, potential sellers are watching to see whether the "Sold" sign pops up quickly or if the property will sit on the market for months.

Needless to say, when our neighbors listed their home, I was curious to see what type of marketing their listing agent did. Unfortunately for my neighbors, she has provided the standard package of services most agents in this area provide. In a market where the competition is fierce, this simply isn’t enough.

What the listing agent did right

1. Excellent staging and high-quality photos
In addition to placing the listing on the MLS and Realtor.com, the listing agent hired a professional photographer to take high-quality pictures of the property. Since the property is only two years old and shows like a model, this makes perfect sense. Also, the research shows that having a minimum of 20 pictures will provide the most page views.

2. Brochure box stays full
The agent has a brochure box that she keeps full. She held a broker’s open house that was well attended by her office. She also had two Sunday open houses that generated good traffic.

3. Listing syndication to several major listing portals
The listing has been viewed 72 times on Trulia as well as appearing on FrontDoor.com and Realtor.com.

What the listing agent hasn’t done

1. Weak marketing plan
The real issue here is that this agent lacks a strong marketing plan. She is relying on the old "Five P" approach — put a sign in the front yard; put it on the MLS; put it in the local paper; put it on  Realtor.com; and pray that it sells.

2. No marketing to neighbors
She hasn’t contacted any of the neighbors about the listing nor has she sent out "Just Listed" cards. Unless you happen to drive down to the end of the cul-de-sac where the property is located, the neighbors in the subdivision would have no way of knowing that the property is for sale. Given that this area is highly desirable because of the schools, this is a costly error.

With 250-plus homes in this subdivision, there is a high probability that current residents know other families who would like to move here.

3. Agent didn’t check the listing on Realtor.com for accuracy
The listing agent also didn’t check her marketing photos. While the main photos on the multiple listing service are correct, the one posted on Realtor.com is a picture of the property next door.

4. No way to obtain caller contact information
In terms of the sign on the property, there is no toll-free call-capture number on the sign. Along the same lines, she also doesn’t have an SMS (text-messaging) function available. Both the toll-free number and the SMS prompt capture callers’ cell phone numbers.

Given that 90 percent of the calls that come into most offices are lost because the person answering the phone cannot get the caller’s number, this means she is losing 90 percent of her sign-generated leads.

5. No outreach to this subdivision’s most likely buyers
The most recent comparable sales show that this subdivision is extremely popular with high-tech engineers from Asia. Having the listing information available in other languages through Immobel.com or Proxio.com would allow the agent to reach these high-probability offshore buyers in their native language.

Furthermore, because the property address ends in an "8" and the property is located on the side of a cul-de-sac (not the very end), this property is considered to be very lucky by those who practice feng shui.

6. No target marketing
Along the same lines, she could also target-market at local firms that tend to be the most stable employers in that particular market.

7. No use of video
Because the agent hasn’t posted a video of the property, she is missing the opportunity to market this property on numerous video portals including YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, plus any of about a dozen other video portal sites available at through TubeMogul.com, as an example.

8. No single-property website
There is no customized website using the property address as the URL. The result is that neither the listing agent nor her company is on the front page of Google when you search this property by its address. Instead, numerous other companies come up ahead of her listing on the search.

They are generating the buyer leads — she’s not. In fact, the only time her name and company is mentioned on any of the front-page Google links is a mention at the bottom of the page stating, "Listing information provided by …"

9. No lead-capture tool on the main listing page
Both Obeo.com and UnitedLane.com provide tools that allow users to redecorate listings online. These are powerful tools because they provide a lead-capture mechanism that immediately notifies the listing agent with the Web lead’s contact information.

10. No comprehensive tracking of leads
If there have been 72 views of the property on Trulia, there had to be several hundred from other major sources such as the MLS and Realtor.com. Because she lacks many of the tools most agents who do tracking would use, how can she know how effective her marketing is?

Are you still relying exclusively on the old "Five P" approach? If so, there’s no better time than now to upgrade your marketing plan for 2011.

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