With the advent of social media, the rise of King Mobile, and the emergence of new ground-breaking technologies, the real estate market for sellers has changed dramatically over the last few years. This article reviews both the “basic” fundamentals of selling a home, quickly and for top dollar, as well as new techniques that have grown out of the new, digital, social world in which we are living. So without further ado, here are our top 6 home-selling tips for 2015:
1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent
To find the best agent in today’s market, you need to full vet the agent’s digital and online marketing. 92% of homebuyers start their house hunt online: they will never even get in the car to see a home if the listing’s online presence isn’t compelling. In addition to LakesSothebys.com and other top broker sites, property listings also need to appear on Zillow, Trulia,
Realtor.com, and on all social media platforms. Sellers should ask their real estate agent to advertise the listing and open houses on Facebook. There is an incredible amount of people on Facebook (1.2B per month). Today, Facebook advertising is one of the most advanced and powerful social marketing platforms. You can advertise a real estate listing in a way that targets the exact type of audience you’re interested in. Your advertisement can include photos (or even a video!) and will be placed right in a user’s newsfeed. In other words, your advertisement will look organic (not paid-for). Edina Realty has been advertising open houses on Facebook in the relevant zip codes, with great traffic results for agents. This type of social media advertising is integral now, given the drop in organic reach on Facebook, which means many people will never see your non paid-for post. The agent you select should know this, and be familiar with paid-organic advertising options. Here are some other questions you’ll want to ask when auditing a potential agent’s online marketing:
Is the agent on social media?
What size and type of following does the agent have on each channel?
Does the agent post consistently on social media? Do they post about property listings in compelling ways?
Does the agent post valuable information with no expectation in getting anything in return on social media?
Does the agent have a website (other than the generic one provided by broker)?
Is the website visually appealing and easy to navigate?
Does the website include information about the agent’s background, services, and results?
Does the website showcase property listings in visually stunning ways, with a variety of media (video, virtuals, etc)?
Does the agent have a blog?
Does the agent have blog posts that provide value and engage the social audience?
Does the agent blog about property listings in interesting ways?
Does the agent blog about important topics related to his industry?
Does the agent have good reviews online, both on a website and social media?
Most real estate agents aren’t doing even half of these things. If you want to be successful in selling your house in today’s market, you need to find an agent who is (way) ahead of the curve.
2. Price it Right
Many sellers believe they should price their home “high” to leave room for negotiation and lower it if it doesn’t sell. This often results in a very slow sale, and with more time on the market, sellers usually have less leverage for negotiating the final sales price. This chart (courtesy of Northstar MLS) shows the effect of market time on final sales price, and the
stigma associated with longer market times that leads to lowball offers: after week 4 final sales price is 4% less than list price on average; after 12+ weeks, final sales price is 6% less than list price; and so on. In sum, the first 4 weeks are the most essential time during thelisting, with a favorable market reception often allowing sellers to get the price AND terms they want. If you err on the side of being slightly under market value, and you’re in a high-demand market, the market can correct upwards, with potential multiple offers driving the price up. If you price over market value, nothing happens. Buyer come and go, time passes, and ultimately people wonder what is “wrong” with the listing. So, you need to be aware that within the given price range for a home, your choices about pricing and strategy can affect the outcome.
3. Make a Great First Impression
First impressions can make or break the sale of your home. Even before walking through your door, buyers have already judged your house from the curb . Your home should be welcoming and set a positive, meticulous tone the moment someone sees your house. Paint the front door, replace the old storm door with a full glass version, trim the trees, mow and
edge the lawn, clean all the windows, add colorful flowers and beautiful landscaping, and set down a crisp, clean, neutral from door mat. This is your chance to capture the heart of the buyer, don’t miss it!
4. Be Ready to Show at All Times
Selling a home that you own is tough work. You have to keep the home clean, re-arrange your schedule on the drop of a dime, and keep the family bobbing and weaving during the listing term to accommodate showings that are often last minute. However, the more accommodating you can be, the better. I see sellers who miss ready, willing, and able buyers (relocation buyers, for instance) all the time because they would not grant a showing request on short notice, or could not even be reached because they set up “most notify” on their listings and then left town for the weekend, with “no cell reception at Gull Lake.” Ouch. You need to remember that your buyer, the one you’ve been waiting for, can come through at any time. The more liberal your showing instructions, and the easier you can make it for buyers to get in to your home, the better chances you have of selling you home quickly. Finally, remember that your home needs to be prepped at all times: dishes need to be washed and put away, clothes need to be in drawers, the cat litter box needs to be cleaned and hidden, and the bathrooms need to be cleaned. This can be a giant pain, but the effort you put in will pay off when the offer comes.
5. Have Killer Photos
Most home buyers start their search online, and if your agent is doing it right, your listing date should feed to thousands of sites, from broker sites, to large consumer sites, to micro-buying sites, plus social media. With that many eyeballs on your property, the photos need to be of
the highest quality possible. What I like to say is they need to be “architectural,” communicating the full scope and size of rooms, with great light, color, and balance. In addition, the photo gallery should be arranged intuitively, in a way that walks people through the home the same way they’d do it in person: front exterior, foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen; then bedrooms (usually on upper level) with associated baths; then lower level finished spaces; then outdoor spaces, backyard, and back of home; and then any street shots or aerial shots. In addition to stills, interactive virtual tours, video fly-throughs, and color pdf brochures that include updates and disclosures are all highly valued by online customers shopping for homes. Remember, you have about 4 seconds to capture a buyer’s imagination!
6. Create Great Videos
Videos are one of the most effective forms of marketing today, given the power of YouTube in our lives, and the viral nature of video content on social media. Today’s sellers, especially in the upper bracket, need to have videos that tell the story of their home, that show the lifestyle associated with the home and location, and that create a emotional connection with potential buyers. The home video should include stunning shots of both the property and the community. Remember, homebuyers don’t just look at the house, they drive around, and think about, the neighborhood and the broader setting. The video should also include music or narration that create a positive vibe for the listing. Here is a example of a great lifestyle video that we shot for a luxury listing at 3248 Dupont Ave S in Minneapolis, Minnesota:
For homes that don’t have as much story to tell on the inside, because they are smaller or more modest homes, you can still do a captivating video to sell the location and the lot of the listing. We have done this successfully for both luxury listings and listings at other price points, with a lot of hits for the property websites being generated by these short, compelling drone videos that tell the location story of a home. Here is an example of this type of aerial video shot for 4800 Sunnyside Rd in Edina, Minnesota, in the Country Club neighborhood:
Keep in mind, if you do work correctly in step 1, and choose the right agent, all the other things above will follow. What strategies have worked for you to help sell your home faster? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation!