First impressions are everything when putting a home on the market. That’s just one of several things Carl Medford wishes sellers understood about marketing homes to sell.

Kick off the fall with Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. We’re going deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, realtor.com and more. Top marketing executives drop by to share their newest tactics, too. It’s all you need to take your branding and marketing game to the next level.

Talking to sellers via Zoom, my team discussed why their home wasn’t selling as quickly as they thought it should. 

We had done everything possible to set the stage for a sale, including: 

  • Necessary upgrades
  • Full staging
  • Professional pictures, including: 
    • Magazine-quality stills
    • Drone shots
    • Matterport 3D tour
    • A video
    • Floor plans
    • Interactive brochure 
    • And more

Our team: 

  • Featured posts on all major social media
  • Worked every reverse prospecting platform
  • Hosted advertised open houses, including a twilight tour
  • Followed up diligently with all buyer and buyer’s agent inquiries
  • Worked the local Realtor networks
  •  and on and on

We had even recommended bringing their price more into line with other nearby homes, which they rigorously dismissed. 

Looking straight at me through their camera, the husband declared, “We do not believe you are doing enough to market our home.”

Over the years, I’ve encountered numerous sellers who genuinely don’t understand what it takes to sell their homes. No matter what we are doing, they seem to think that we are holding something back. 

It’s like the dialogue between Captain Kirk and Scotty from Star Trek. In response to emergencies, Kirk would always yell, “Scotty, we need more,” to which the engineer would always reply, “Captain, I’m givin’ ya all we’ve got!”

The truth is, to maximize the “golden window” and give sellers their best chance at an optimum sale, we give them everything we have right out of the gate. 

Based on my 20 years of listing homes, here are the top six things agents wish sellers understood about marketing their home for sale. 

1. There is no secret sauce

Marketing comes down to a few fundamentals: You need a product to sell, an effective way of promoting it, buyers who are looking to buy what you are offering and an agreeable price. 

If agents properly prepare, effectively stage, advertise using the latest marketing technology and methodologies, correctly price the home, and there are buyers out there looking for comparable homes, it should sell. It might take a while if the market is slow, but every home we have marketed that ticks all the boxes has eventually sold. 

Issues happen when sellers don’t maximize one of the categories. An ill-prepared home will not sell if the owners want top dollar. If the home has features that do not resonate with current buyer tastes, it will probably sit there until the price is dropped low enough to allow a buyer to remove or remedy the perceived issues. 

There is no secret sauce. There is no magic formula. Agents don’t have tricks up their sleeves. Other than being willing to sell at a price substantially below market, there is no one thing you can do to entice a buyer to plunk down their cash and buy. The marketing fundamentals are relatively basic and, though execution of the marketing is critical, at the end of the day, once you have done everything, it comes down to the price. 

2. First impressions are everything

Today’s buyers will give a seller between 7-10 seconds before swiping left on their mobile device and moving onto the next home. It is absolutely critical to maximize those first few seconds. 

Sellers who are not willing to do so, either by failing to maximize their home or refusing to be realistic, will usually end up paying the piper by selling for less. 

3. No marketing can guarantee a price

I am so tired of agents trying to buy a listing by promising that their “state-of-the-art” marketing will guarantee a sale at a specific price. 

I am also tired of sellers falling for the bait. 

For this reason, we specifically address this in every listing appointment so that sellers understand the process and the fact that even with our best efforts, the price cannot be guaranteed. 

4. Clever dialogue seldom wins the day

The person who writes the ad copy for our listings is very good. Rather than just listing features, they paint pictures of life once the buyer occupies the home. No matter how good the dialogue, however, there are always sellers who think they can do better. 

We have had sellers laboriously pore over our proposed dialogue and make numerous changes, thinking that the turn of a phrase will magically sell a home that is $50,000 over a realistic list price. 

They often want things included that make no difference at all, such as new knobs on the kitchen cabinets, the shopping center that is 10 miles away, the freshly planted flowers and so on. 

They do not realize that most sellers will spend a maximum of 10 seconds looking at the listing and that prospects will spend the entire time looking at the pictures, not reading the artfully crafted dialogue. 

Yes, dialogue is essential, but there is still a limit to what a buyer will actually read. It’s best to paint pictures, but keep it brief, and let the pictures do the talking. 

5. It really is about your property

Let’s face it. Homes with bowling alleys are cool, but not every buyer is willing to pay for one. Fifty-year-old kitchens, converted garages, unpermitted additions, ugly upgrades, and garish colors are just a few of the countless buyer turnoffs I have seen over the years. 

If the home a seller is trying to peddle has serious issues or is just downright ugly, no marketing will hide the obvious. 

6. Price is the ultimate marketing tool

I have already started it, but to drive the point home, in the end, if nothing else works, the final marketing tool is going to be adjusting the price. The adage is true: There is a market for anything if the price is right. 

The most effective way to help a seller understand marketing is to put them in the buyers’ shoes. Most sellers are looking to buy elsewhere and have already spent time looking at replacement properties online. 

I ask them, “Can you tell me about your home search process?” 

As they begin to explain how they search for homes, you can usually see the lights start to come on. 

Take some time to educate your sellers upfront about how marketing works, and you can avoid some stressful conversations once their home hits the market. 

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.

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