What listing agents can learn from online dating

Act as an information gatekeeper instead of handing over listing treasure

In this age of instant gratification, it can be useful to step back and re-evaluate the best strategy for selling our listings. Consider that in one MLS listing we have the ability to hand over all “the goods” — data, descriptions, photos, video links, floor plans, pictures and more. This is what buyers say they want and we want buyers to buy, so it all sounds like a good idea, right?

Let’s think about that.

The goal of every MLS or online listing is to generate showings, offers and a closed deal. With that in mind, I think a slower drip of information is a better approach. Here’s why.

The goal of an online listing is get the property on a buyer’s short list for showings. Once you are on the short list, you should resist the temptation to provide more information. That’s because more information actually may talk a buyer out of what you already have accomplished — convincing him or her to see the house in person. So give your buyers only what they need to make that decision and then cut them off.

You need to act as an information “gatekeeper” who allows buyers limited access to the trove of information at your disposal, tantalizing them with hints rather than overwhelming them with every fact.

This might seem counterintuitive, but let’s compare home selling to online dating. Doing so will make this concept easier to understand.

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For example, instead of posting one headshot and a great description, what if you posted these “extras” to your online dating profile:

  • Your credit report
  • Your driving record
  • Details about your dating past

This is not information that you want to share with someone you just met. It’s more along the lines of information that is necessary to disclose only when you’re moving in together. Further, if you post this kind of information on your dating profile, “run away” most likely will be the first reaction.

Selling a home is similar. You want to give the buyers the honest highlights of the property and let them learn all the details when they visit the home and fall in love with it. That small closet isn’t a big deal once you see the huge kitchen. The dirt backyard is OK once you’ve taken in the open floor plan and spacious living areas. The laminate counters and floors can be tolerated once you visualize your kids growing up here.

That sort of visualization isn’t easy to achieve online, and buyers can be quick to dismiss a property because of an “extra” that’s included with the listing. A floor plan can be hard to visualize when posted online — give that out once the buyer is at the home. And video can show too much detail.

The timing of each marketing technique should also be well-considered: Give away a few tidbits online, give away a few more at the house itself, and skip some altogether.

What if your sellers insist on including something that shouldn’t be online? Appease them by providing it during the home tour so it won’t reduce the number of showings and limit your chance of selling.

Greg Eckler is a former computer programmer who brings a fresh, analytical perspective to real estate. He founded Denver Realty Experts LLC, in 2013.