Marketing Tips

Open Houses

If you hire a broker to sell your house, one of the first things your listing agent does after you've signed the listing contract is tell the local brokerage community about your property. One extremely effective way to get the word out is to schedule a brokers' open -- a special open house exclusively for local real estate agents.

Agents generally work with at least four or five serious buyers at any given time. A brokers' open is amazingly targeted marketing. No guarantees, of course, but don't be surprised if the first brokers' open leads to a sale. After all, having 50 agents tour your house is the equivalent of showing it to 200 or 250 motivated buyers.

Although your house obviously won't appeal to every one of the agents' buyers, you can bet it'll press hot buttons for a few of them. Well-priced, attractive property almost always generates immediate showing requests. With the advent of cell phones, agents don't even have to wait until they get back to the office to call their clients about your property.

Most areas designate one particular day each week as Brokers' Tour Day during which agents and brokers tour newly listed properties. If many new listings enter the market the week of your first brokers' open, some agents won't see your property due to scheduling conflicts with brokers' opens on other houses. Whatever the reason, the way around scheduling conflicts is to be sure that your listing agent schedules at least two brokers' opens.

Weekend open houses

We start by noting that folks usually think of public open houses as Sunday open houses. That idea is prevalent because most houses are held open on Sundays. However, no law says that you can't hold a Saturday open house every now and then to scoop up people who can't come to a Sunday open house. Nonetheless, we refer to all public open houses from now on as Sunday open houses for simplicity's sake.

Compared to brokers' opens, you have lower odds of making a sale directly by holding a Sunday open house. But if you're trying to sell your house without an agent, you won't have access to brokers' opens.

After you open your house to the world at large, not everyone who walks through the front door is a legitimate buyer. You get Lookie Lou's trying to pick up some decorating hints and curious neighbors who always wanted to know how your house looks on the inside. Unfortunately, other than an address, open house signs don't contain a wealth of specific information to help qualify prospective buyers.

In a perfect world, nobody steals. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect. Leaving small, easily portable valuables lying around during open houses is an open invitation to thieves. Figure out a place to put them so they are out of harm's way.


Advertising That Works

Certain types of advertising are extremely effective. Others, while popular, are big wastes of time and money. The key to selling your house for top dollar -- even in a dismal market -- is simple: Implement a broad-based campaign to generate spirited buyer competition for your property. Advertising is not a cure-all. Glitzy advertising won't sell a house that's in terrible condition, poorly marketed, and overpriced, to boot. The following sections describe the most effective types of advertising

  • For Sale sign:This is without a doubt, the single most effective way to tell folks looking for a home in your area that your property is on the market. Real estate brokers know that sign calls (people calling to get more information about a house after they see the For Sale sign) are far more likely to result in a sale than ad calls (people calling about property they read about in an ad). When ad callers find out the location of the property, the style of the house or some other basic fact they would have already known if they actually saw the property from the street, they more often than not reject it. Sign callers, on the other hand, obviously like the neighborhood and at least the property's exterior; they have a higher probability of being serious buyers.
  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS): The (MLS) is operated by local real estate brokers who all pool their listings so that information about property listed by any MLS member is immediately available to all participating members. Brokers and agents enter new listings into the computerized database as soon as the listing contract is signed. Price changes and sales are also same-day entries. In most places, nonmembers (that is, the public) can't put property into an MLS. An MLS listing gives your property wide exposure to a potent pool of market-educated buyers currently working with all other MLS members.
  • Listing statement: This data sheet, also called a property statement, is given to people who tour your property on Sunday open houses or people who are shown through your house by appointment. Listing statements are very effective point-of-purchase ads containing more information than you can put into a newspaper ad or an MLS listing. This sheet offers you a chance to wax poetic about the special features of your property.
  • Hot buttons: People don't buy houses. They buy hot buttons and the house tags along. Hot buttons vary from one house to the next. Gourmet kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, sensuous bedrooms, working fireplaces, panoramic views, and lovely gardens are turn-ons. So are huge, walk-in closets -- no one ever has enough closet space. In densely populated metropolitan areas, garages can sell houses
  • Online services: In addition to the computerized multiple listing service, leading brokers now have Internet Web sites that they use to advertise their listings. This allows them to show multiple photographs, virtual tours and to help buyers more efficiently find properties. With more than half of all buyers beginning their research on the Internet, this is increasingly an important advertising medium for your house.
  • Word of mouth: This advice sounds so darn primitive coming right after computers, but networking is an extremely effective form of targeted advertising. Tell people you know -- friends, business associates, folks who go to your church, club members, and especially your neighbors that your house is for sale. Make a point of inviting your friends and neighbors to your first open house. Who knows? One of them may have a pal who would love to buy your house.


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