September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. Tips for better branding and in-depth features on how to take advantage of marketing tools provided by Zillow, Redfin and other platforms are all in the works in addition to insights from experts. You’ll find it all at Inman, as well as our two-day virtual, flagship event, Your Playbook for the Fall Market, in October.
This article was last updated September 13, 2022.
Due to the recent market shift, some listings that hit the market right before buyers backed off have found themselves sitting longer than expected. While stale listings are usually the result of several things that are not necessarily your fault, as a real estate agent, it’s your job to fix the issue.
These listings are usually sitting for (at least) one of three reasons: price, location or condition. And if you are really lucky, you get to combat all three. Try the following tips to help freshen up a stale listing.
Improve communication with your client
- Call them first, call them often: Bring information to your sellers, and help educate them about their current micro market. If they know that you are going to be calling them regularly to encourage them to make positive choices to sell, they will become conditioned to think more seriously about selling their home.
- Negotiate a special event for a price adjustment: A well-planned public or broker’s open house has the potential to turn a stale listing around. It should involve a marketing strategy and a budget, and it must be scheduled in advance to make sure you can hustle people into the door.
- Create a killer updated CMA: Many agents fail to provide updated CMAs for their listings after the first appointment. This is a significant mistake. Your clients will need revised information to help them understand your recommended pricing corrections for their listing.
Update your listing’s image
- Update your listing photos: If you have not already invested in professional photography, that could be a serious issue with how potential buyers are viewing the home online. Dark and unfocused pictures can be a deal breaker for buyers — who most often are surfing for homes on their mobile phones.
- Put your listing photos in the proper order: Buyers do not want to thumb through 10 exterior photos before they get to an interior photo of the home. Lead with the top spots in the home: kitchen, great room or master bath suite. Take the extra time to make sure all of the captions and labels are matched on the photos in your MLS. Make sure your exterior photos are set in the right season. Photos that are “out of season,” for instance, with snow on the ground in summer time, can deter potential buyers from seeing the home at its best.
- Ask the sellers to put their best foot forward: If the home has older appliances or is in poor condition, find home warranty options to offer buyers, and encourage the homeowners to make the home as clean as possible for showings. Clean homes always show better than dirty homes, and the freshness will help encourage buyers to linger longer and possibly better visualize future improvements.
Create solutions for location problems
- Check the parking situation: One of the first questions I ask agents about stale listings is “How is the parking/driveway?” If the driveway is in poor repair, or parking is not convenient, start thinking outside the box for solutions with the homeowner. Many buyers are doing a quick drive-by of the property before asking their buyer’s agent to show it. If there’s not a prominent place for parking at least two vehicles, it can potentially be a deterrent. If there is a parking garage nearby or other designated parking area, make sure this is detailed in the remarks on the listing. In rural areas, make sure the driveway looks passable in muddy or snowy conditions. Ask the homeowners how they park and if there are any road maintenance agreements.
- Offer price incentives: If the home is located in a less than desirable area, the price should be an incentive to the buyer for making that location work. This is a complicated conversation to have with the homeowner. Remember to be respectful of their current home. Ask them why they purchased the home and what makes the location work for their lifestyle. This will help start the conversation about building incentives for buyers to visit the property.
- Amp up curb appeal: Low-key landscaping, fresh mulch and a few plants can go a long way toward making a home look well cared for on the outside. If buyers are pulling up to a poorly maintained exterior, they may think the interior is just as neglected.
Challenging listings will allow you to grow in your career and build your professional skills and character. When all else fails, turn to a seasoned colleague to ask for their opinion.
A fresh set of eyes on a problem can be the change in perspective you need to turn it around. Don’t forget to pay it forward and return the favor in the future.
If you have exhausted all your resources and you feel that there is nothing else you can offer your client, speak with your broker about alternative solutions.
By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting and blogging. Feel free to tweet her @rachaelhite.