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How to Help First-Time Sellers Through a Sale

Helping First-Time Sellers

Winning a listing is always exciting because many Realtors® see them as the bread and butter of real estate. However, you can end up putting in a lot of extra time if you’re working with a first-time seller. You certainly don’t need to shy away from these listings, but it does help to have a plan. Here are some ways you can help a first-time home seller through the process.

Help Them Handle Emotional Attachment

A first-time seller is parting ways with a home that has hosted a huge part of his or her life. While people move apartments frequently, many homebuyers forge a special emotional attachment to their first home.

The longer the seller has lived in the home, and the more that has happened there, the stronger the emotions are likely to be. Here are some things you should be prepared to handle:

  • A desire to price the home higher than the market
  • Wavering about whether they should sell right now
  • A tendency to leave their collections and knick-knacks out during showings
  • Resistance to changing the home in accord with buyer requests

You aren’t in real estate to be a therapist, but with a first-time home seller, you will need to do a little hand-holding. Encouraging them to let go of their emotional connection and helping them look forward to their new home is step one.

Provide Clear Expectations & Frequent Communication

First-time homebuyers are nervous and don’t know what to expect. They will assume that most showings are serious buyers and that open houses will lead to offers in a few days. If this does not happen, they may become frustrated or even re-think the listing entirely.

By helping them understand exactly what will happen and what likely timelines will be, you can calm their nerves. Ask them how often they would like updates, and if they want to hear from you even if nothing has changed. Provide the communication they are looking for, and they will be thrilled with your service. A happy seller means more referrals and more listings!

Even Previous Sellers Can Feel Like Newbies

If it has been 20 years since a homeowner last moved, they are likely to feel incredibly uncertain and out of place. Even though they have sold a home in the past, the market conditions and marketing techniques have changed dramatically.

Reassurance is a valuable tool for this type of home seller. Let them know that you are an expert in all the new marketing avenues and that you know exactly how to position their home for a quick sale. Remind them that people’s basic needs don’t change even when technology does and that the perfect buyer is out there. You just have new ways of reaching them.

No matter who you’re helping sell a home, it’s a competitive marketplace out there. Your goal isn’t just to find a buyer, it’s to find a serious, qualified buyer whose offer will hold up through closing. That’s the expertise you bring, and by providing that service, you’ll be sure to delight new and experienced sellers alike.

Ready to market a new listing? We have all the print marketing tools you need. Check out our postcards, fliers, and more today!

Taking Zestimates to Court

Taking Zillow to Court

Well, it finally happened. I had guessed that Zillow would eventually run into trouble with its estimates since the error rate is 5% or more on most homes. Given that the median sale price of a home in May 2016 was $230,000, Zillow costs people $11,500 or more per home.

5% may sound modest, but keep in mind that 25 percent of the time Zillow is off by 10%, and ten percent of the time they are off by 20% or more. That can represent an enormous amount of money.

Of course, Zillow claims that their estimates don’t cost anyone money, after all, it’s just an educated guess. But tell that to this seller, who alleges that the Zestimate for her home is inaccurate to the tune of $100,000 and as a result, she can’t sell her home for a fair price.

She is filing an injunction for Zillow to remove or amend the estimate for her home. She also wants Zestimates to be regulated as appraisals or removed. Currently, she’s not looking for financial damages.

An Appraisal by Any Other Name…

Realtors® have known for years how inaccurate Zillow’s estimates are. Unfortunately, consumers tend to take what they see at face value. That leaves sellers fighting an uphill battle if their homes are undervalued.

It can also cause headaches for Realtors® who are trying to sell a home at a fair price that happens to be below the Zestimate. Some sellers consider the Zestimate to be the price they should sell their home for and won’t take no for an answer.

It makes sense to me that something advertised as boldly as Zillow’s estimates cannot be protected by an asterisk. Both buyers and sellers are taking these numbers seriously, and I personally am glad someone is trying to hold Zillow accountable.

Protecting Yourself from Zestimates

In the meantime, Realtors® need to have a clear strategy for defending against Zillow’s faulty estimates. Both buyers and sellers can be fooled, and as a real estate agent, it’s important to be prepared for both.

Talking a Seller Out of a Zestimate

The first step is to point out Zillow’s own disclaimer that they are inaccurate on a regular basis. From there, you can educate a homeowner on the specific factors that affect home pricing.

After you’ve discussed general pricing influences, you can talk to them about their particular home and how those issues impact them specifically. You can wrap up with an honest opinion about how much they should price their home for, and let them know that the over-high Zestimate will help their home sell faster because buyers will think they are getting a bargain.

At the end of the day, if a seller won’t back down from an illogically high price, you don’t want the listing. There are plenty of other folks you can help that are ready to sell at a reasonable price.

Talking a Buyer Out of a Zillow Estimate

Buyers can be harder to reach because they may not even ask for a showing if they feel the price is too high. They also won’t believe you have their best interest at heart since you work for the seller.

The best thing to do with buyers is to point out the features that make the home worth the price, and mention how much nearby houses are selling for. You might also approach the buyer’s agent and explain the Zillow situation, and have them talk to the buyer directly about how Zestimates are often wrong.

The seller may be able to update their home’s facts, but that won’t necessarily improve the Zillow estimate, which is based on an undisclosed algorithm. If the home is dramatically wrong on Zillow, you may just need to take the bull by the horns and address directly in the marketing you do for the home.

Having a flyer that specifically says, “Why is Zillow so wrong about this home?” and talking about true pricing factors can be an excellent way to address this issue.

Will the Court Case Change Anything?

Given that Zillow discloses that estimates are 5% or more incorrect, they don’t expect to get in trouble for Zestimates. However, if a court finds that the estimates are causing material damage to homeowners, the situation could change quickly.

It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on this case and seeing what happens!

If you want to do consumer education about Zestimates, brochures are a great way to get the word out. We have several templates you can choose from – click here for more information!

Creative Ways to Market Real Estate Listings

Real Estate Listings Marketing

For some reason, spring always gets me thinking about listings. It must be the warm weather and the fact that the busy season for real estate is just around the corner.

Marketing for real estate listings is something that you can develop a system for. You can make sure you always take certain steps to get the word out – Just Listed postcards, open houses, letting other Realtors® know about the property, and so on.

But I like to think outside the box too. So today, I’m sharing some creative ways to market your listings this spring.

Offer an Immersive Neighborhood Experience

Buyers looking at real estate listings often have a hard time imagining themselves living in a new community, and they may worry about what there is to do or whether they can fit in. One great way to set yourself apart and help the buyers see themselves in the new location is to offer an “Uber and Dinner” package to serious customers.

This just involves making a reservation at a local restaurant – the more unique, the better – and ordering an Uber to take the buyers to and from the dinner. Having a ride allows the customers the chance to notice things they might not see otherwise. And a nice dinner helps them relax.

Of course, this is a “Wow” experience that sets you and your sellers apart as you compete for the buyer. It will impress sellers that you think outside the box and help you win listings as well.

If you don’t like Uber and Dinner, you can offer a guided tour of the neighborhood or take advantage of any local, fun activities that would help the buyer feel like they’ve experienced the area in a new way.

Hold an Event Instead of an Open House

Open houses seem to be on their way out, for safety reasons as well as because they’re poorly attended. People prefer to look online at pictures and videos, view the house on their own time, and then make a buying decision.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t give you the opportunity to build buzz about your real estate listings, get more prospective buyers in, and create interest. So, try something new – hold an event instead of an open house.

You can choose and host the event yourself, or you can contact charities or organizations you know that are looking for a space to hold a fundraiser or public activity. Work with your homeowners to see what they’re most comfortable with – maybe they’d prefer a backyard affair with tours available, for instance, rather than an indoor event.

Inviting people from the neighborhood is a good start, and then you’ll want to let other Realtors® know about it. Realtors® will be a lot more likely to bring buyers over if there’s something fun going on, so your event will attract a lot of attention!

Hold a Virtual Open House on Facebook

Facebook allows you to host events online. You can invite people you know, or even target people using Facebook’s demographic and psychographic tools.

Facebook has an excellent guide for creating and managing events on their platform. Also, consider these ideas:

  • Use Facebook Live to do a virtual home tour. Because it’s live, people can ask questions and you can answer them in real time. You can highlight areas that people ask about and share specific features. Best of all, when you’re done, the video will be available to others who visit your event page.
  • Invite the friends and family of your sellers, and ask them to invite people they know. You can get a big organic reach by starting with who you know and moving outward from there.
  • Use Facebook ads to reach those who live in the area, are in the target demographic, and/or are likely to move soon. It’s amazing how specific you can be when you use Facebook for targeting. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring in a very specific audience!

A virtual open house saves you and your sellers time and money. It secures your safety and the security of the home. It also shows that you’re savvy with technology, which can help you win a listing from an uncertain seller. Win-win-win!

These three ideas are just the surface of what you can do to be creative in your marketing. Of course, you should do the things you already know work – postcards and flyers, featuring the property on your website, networking, and more. These new ideas just add to your arsenal!

Advice Your Sellers are Getting: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Interested in advice your buyers are receiving? Check out the previous post!

Advice Sellers Receive

Do you shudder when you see some of the advice that’s given to people about to sell their homes? You’re not alone. A lot of the advice given to sellers would be laughable if it weren’t so damaging.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Some of the advice sellers get is actually helpful. Regardless, being a great seller’s agent means knowing what your prospects are being told and how to respond to common misconceptions, questions, and concerns.

To help you, here’s a list of common advice sellers are getting and how to be ready to respond.

“Depersonalize Your Home to Sell It Fast”

The Advice:

This practical advice is very helpful. It’s a big put-off to a buyer to come into a home where the walls are covered with the seller’s wedding photos or pictures of their kids. It makes it very hard for the buyer to imagine themselves there.

How to Respond:

You want to encourage sellers to follow this tip. If you’re having a hard time with sellers who want to keep everything they way they wanted it when they lived there, remind them that this is essentially no longer their home. It’s not about what they want anymore, it about what the new homeowner will want.

“Audit Your Agent’s Marketing Techniques”

The Advice:

The idea here is that a seller should look for a quality agent. As a result, sellers who receive this advice may ask a lot of questions about what, exactly, you do to market properties. It may mean that the seller will try to be very hands-on, but it may not.

How to Respond:

The best response to this is to use the prospect’s interest in your marketing to really set yourself apart with your expertise. Describe the various marketing techniques you use and why they’re effective. Whatever you do, don’t get caught unprepared to answer questions about marketing!

“Post a Video Love Letter About Your Home on YouTube”

The Advice:

This hilarious piece of advice tells sellers to get an inexpensive flip camera and walk through the home and neighborhood. Sellers are supposed to narrate what their family loved about the home and the neighborhood, sharing memories and favorite coffee shops.

How to Respond:

The problem with the advice is that buyers aren’t interested in the seller’s experience in the home, they want to imagine their own experience. Assure the homeowner that you will post high-quality photos and video of the home online, and that you will clearly describe the benefits of the home and neighborhood. Explain that you realize telling a story is important, but that it needs to be the buyer’s story.

“Make a Lot of Showing Times Available”

The Advice:

If a seller wants to sell their home quickly for a good price, they need to make it easy for prospective buyers to see the house. This advice tells sellers to make it easy for buyers and Realtors® to schedule a showing by not making the timeframes super restrictive, or their home may be skipped in favor of others.

How to Respond:

While this is generally good advice, as a Realtor® it’s important to make sure your client understands what it takes to have the home ready for a showing. When the seller is clear about how clean it needs to be, they’ll be able to decide how much notice they need before a showing. It’s vital that your client not just leave everything as it lays right before a showing!

“Underprice Your Home to Create a Bidding War”

The Advice:

The idea is that if the home is a great value, more people will be interested, which will increase the number of bids received. This can create a bidding war where the seller gets more than originally anticipated – maybe even more than the house was expected to be worth.

How to Respond:

This is terrible advice for a variety of reasons. First, underpricing a home sends a message to buyers that there must be something wrong with it. Or, they may realize that the seller is trying to create a bidding war, and avoid the drama by looking elsewhere.

Secondly, if a bidding war is created and the selling price is too high, it might not stand up under appraisal, which would nullify the deal and leave the seller worse off than they were before.

Essentially, there’s never a good reason to misprice a home. It’s not strategy, it’s just foolish.

“Do an FSBO to Maximize Your Profit”

The Advice:

This advice is fairly standard – save the commission of your Realtor® by putting the home on the market and “letting it sell itself.”

How to Respond:

Homes don’t sell themselves. Unfortunately, real estate agents seem to constantly be in the position of proving their value. Point out these facts:

  • No one buys a home they don’t know about. Realtors® have the time and expertise to market a home correctly and get the best price in the shortest time.
  • Realtors® can provide expert advice about staging, landscaping, pricing, and more that will help the home sell more quickly. A seller doing this on their own is shooting in the dark.
  • The paperwork involved in properly financing and selling a home is complex and is a major headache to an inexperienced and busy homeowner. As a Realtor®, you know exactly how to do it right and include all of the needed provisions and conditions.

Are You Ready for Your Seller?

This is just a sampling of all of the advice a seller may receive before working with you. It pays to be aware of what people are being told so that you can respond appropriately – in fact, you can answer some objections in advance!

Use some of these pieces of advice as discussion points on your farming postcards. Ask the question, “Should you do X to sell your home?” and then discuss the answer on the postcard. We at Printerbees would be delighted to help you set up the design!

Potential sellers will be very interested in these postcards and will respect your expertise as you answer the exact questions they had in mind! It’s a great way to build rapport through print marketing.

What’s the craziest seller’s advice you’ve heard? Share in the comments!

Two Unique Ideas for Open Houses

Unique Ideas for Open Houses

I’ve heard a lot of Realtors® say that open houses simply don’t work. Open houses have also been under fire due to safety issues.

However, I like to keep an open mind, and I recently discovered two unique ideas about how to maximize the impact of an open house. Both of these come from Realtors® who are actually doing them. I’d love your opinion – would you conduct an open house this way?

Limit to One Open House & Create an Offer Deadline

Having endless open houses is not only a hassle for the agent and homeowner; it creates absolutely no urgency on the part of buyers. There’s a feeling that you need them more than they need you.

To combat this, consider having only one showing and creating a deadline for making an offer. When there’s only one open house, you’ll have more buyers come in, which makes it more worth your time. When it’s crowded, that also creates the perception that there will be a lot of offers, which encourages buyers to make a higher offer than they might have been planning to.

You can also create a short timeframe for receiving offers after the open house. If the open house is on Saturday, you can create a deadline for receiving offers of noon on Monday. It helps create a sense of urgency to act, and you also reinforce the idea that there will be a lot of competition for the home.

Because people want what other people seem to be interested in, you can use this scarcity and deadline strategy to create interest and move a home quickly.

Hold a Community Event in a Staged Home

Those looking to really draw a crowd to a listing may plan to hold a social event at the home. This is not just an open house – it’s planned as a full community event.

Holding an event, complete with food, drinks, and even live music can be a great way to showcase a home’s potential for entertainment and fun. It will draw a bigger crowd than a traditional open house, and that helps build interest and create competition.

You can advertise this kind of open house event on social media, neighborhood websites, and even in newspapers or through printed flyers and postcards. It’s a way to take a boring, regular open house to a whole new level – in fact, you might even find yourself having fun!

In all likelihood, this type of open house event would only be suitable for a larger home that was at a higher price point. However, it could be a great way to showcase that luxury listing.

Thoughts on Open Houses?

I think it’s pretty clear that boring, regular open houses are on the way out, if not completely gone already. However, there are still agents out there being creative and finding new ways to elevate open houses as a marketing tool.

What do you think? Would you do either of these? If you have already, what was your experience? I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re ready to advertise your next open house, be sure to take a look at Printerbee’s large collection of customizable Just Listed postcards and property flyers. We’d love to help you get the word out!

Prove the Value of Your Commission in Any Market

Prove the Value of Your Commission in Any Market

In some areas of the country, real estate is moving very quickly. Unfortunately, with a strong seller’s market, there’s a lot of competition among Realtors® for listings. As a result, many Realtors® feel a lot of pressure to cut commissions in order to win business.

Of course, your commission is your livelihood, and once you cut it for one customer other will find out and expect the same. So how do you keep from cutting your commission in a seller’s market – or any market?

The simple answer is to show clearly how your commission is used to benefit the homeowner. Also, don’t be afraid to remind them that commissions are your only income, and you deserve to be paid for your work like they do.

Here are some steps you can take to prove the value of your real estate commission in any market.

Have a Premium Marketing Plan

The first step is to show clearly what you will do for the seller as a full-service agent. Having a premium marketing plan ready to go and detailed for the client is vital.

When sellers see your real estate service as generic and able to be done by anyone, they tend to expect mediocre performance and focus heavily on price. Instead, set out a clear plan of action that makes it obvious that you are not “just another agent” and really have unique value to offer.

Here are some of the key components of a premium real estate marketing plan:

  • Print marketing – using a series of postcards to draw interest in their property. We recommend a series that includes “coming soon”, “just listed”, “open house”, and “just sold” to maximize exposure. Be sure to indicate the importance of professional photography here as well.
  • Online marketing – beyond just listing the home on the MLS, what will you do for the listing online? Ideas include Facebook ads, featuring the home on your website, and creating professional walkthrough videos. Focus on your unique use of technology especially online.
  • Reach with other Realtors®. Most buyers have buyer’s agents – how are you able to reach out to them? Are you part of a real estate network that you can advertise the listing to? Does your brokerage have a national or international presence that can be leveraged? Do you have access to overseas real estate agents? Professional publications or magazines?
  • Personal Touch. Will you do door-to-door in a specific neighborhood for their listing? A specific number of calls? The personal touch is one of the things that will really set you apart from discount automated brokerages.

Have a Commission Defense Script

Because sellers are often used to being offered a discount, it’s very likely to come up during a listing presentation. In fact, many online home-selling resources “help” homeowners “avoid being taken advantage of” with premium commissions.

As a result, you need a clear non-threatening script ready for when sellers ask you for a discount. The script should match your style and personality. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask, “Mr./Mrs. Jones, don’t you think it’s best to have a strong negotiator on your side when you sell your home?” When they say yes, say, “So if an agent can’t even stand firm on their own livelihood, why would you trust them to maximize the sale your home? Besides, the commission helps pay for…” and then highlight the marketing plan.
  • Say, “Mr/Mrs. Jones, this is my specific marketing plan that will help ensure you receive the best price for you home in the least amount of time. If you’d like a lower commission, perhaps I could find a junior associate or less experienced agent for you who is willing to work for less money.”
  • Talk about the results you get for them and compare your service to other specialties. “If your doctor is operating on you or prescribing you medication, are you going to go with the one who works for very little, or the one with the best results? Why not do the same with the biggest investment you own?”

Break Down Where the Commission Goes

Unfortunately, many sellers don’t realize how the commission process in real estate works. They think that the Realtor® nets the full 6% of the home’s selling price, leading many to believe that real estate agents are overpaid. Here’s a way to help educate them.

First, tell the seller that you charge 3%. Then, ask, “How much do you want to pay the agent who brings an offer? It can be 2%, 3%, 4%, or more. The more it is, the more likely other agents are to bring their buyers here.” Perhaps they say, “3%.”

Then, talk about your three percent. One agent came up with this creative explanation:

“Just so that you understand what happens to the 3 percent that you will be paying me,” he takes three business cards and continues as he removes the first card, saying, “Every agent has to pay their broker part of the commission.” He takes the first card and puts it aside.

He then picks up the second card. “This amount goes to the marketing of your property,” which includes such services as professional photos; video; Web marketing; social media marketing; newspaper ads the agent pays for; brochures; gasoline; and all the other expenses entailed in marketing a home.

He then puts that card aside, picks up the last card and says, “This is how much I get paid.”

He then tears the card in half and says, “But I have to pay taxes, so this is how much I keep.”

He then asks a very important question: “So if another agent offers to lower their commission, where do you think the money comes from? Three percent goes to the other agent, 1 percent goes to their brokerage, and the government keeps 50 percent of what they earn. They’re not going to take food out of their children’s mouths, so the only place where this money can come from is by cutting into the 1 percent that I use to market your home.”

With these three approaches in your arsenal, you’ll be well prepared to explain your value, defend your commission, and educate the seller on how that commission is used. This will prepare you to defend and protect your commission – and your livelihood – in any market.

How do you answer questions about your commission? Share in the comments!

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

September is Realtor® Safety Month, so I want to ask you – are you safe as a Realtor®? There are a lot of areas where safety plays into real estate work. You can help your sellers stay safe, you can keep yourself safe during showings, and most of all, you can keep yourself from being a target.

How to Avoid Becoming a Target

You survive 100% of the attacks that don’t happen, so focus first on preventing yourself from being a target. Criminals are generally focused on opportunity, and go after victims that give them the best opportunities. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to avoid being a target:

  • Pay Attention to How You Appear. Criminals target Realtors® who work alone and who appear to be wealthy. They often focus on women, as women are seen to be weaker than men and less likey to be able to defend themselves. When working as a Realtor®, avoid working alone and avoid ostentatious displays of jewelry or other wealth.
  • Limit Vulnerability. If someone stands too close to you, immediately make eye contact and establish personal boundaries. Don’t be easily intimidated. In addition, be wary of someone who asks a lot of questions about a showing that involve how alone you’ll be. Questions like “Are other buyers going to be there” and “Is the property vacant” and “Will you be alone” are all red flags.
  • Never Work Alone, Especially on Secluded Properties. The more secluded a property, the higher the opportunity for a criminal. Neighbors, foot traffic, and great lighting are all deterrents to criminal activity. The biggest deterrent, of course, is simply not working alone. Don’t allow yourself to be isolated.

How to Protect Your Sellers

Real estate safety is certainly about your personal safety, but it’s also about those you work with. You want to ensure that those who list with you are safe as well, especially as it concerns their personal property. Not only that, when you focus on the seller’s safety, it will help you stand out from other agents who aren’t talking about it.

Here are some important tips to share with sellers:

  • Prescription Drugs. Not only is your seller’s health no one’s business, but prescription drugs are a major temptation for criminals. If a criminal doesn’t use them personally, they can sell them on the black market. Prescription drugs should be locked up or removed before showings and open houses. Unlocked medicine cabinets are no safer than leaving them out in the open.
  • Remind your clients that you aren’t responsible for valuables during showings. They should carefully lock up or put away valuables during showings. This isn’t limited to jewelry – it can also include cell phones, mail that contains personal information, artwork, gaming equipment, and valuable collections. Do your part as well, and avoid posting photographs or videos of the home that contain shots of valuable technology, gaming items, or collections.
  • Beware of Strangers at the Door. Just because someone shows up saying they’re interested in the home doesn’t mean your sellers should let them in. Be sure they know that only a real estate professional using the lockbox should be able to access the home.
  • Put in Extra Locks and Security. When a home is listed for sale, criminals see it as being more vulnerable simply because people go in and out a great deal. Advise your sellers to put in deadbolts, put extra locks and sticks on sliding doors, and take other security measures.

Keep Yourself Safe

Finally, it’s vital to keep yourself safe during a showing and open house. It’s not hard to avoid being a target, but it can be inconvenient. Remember that a few extra minutes, a delayed appointment, and the buddy system are worth the trouble when it comes to your safety.

  • Never Meet Someone for the First Time at a Property. Yes, the home is on the way, they just called, and you don’t want to miss a buyer. But it’s not worth your safety. Firmly tell interested parties that they must have a meeting with you at your office before they see a property. Don’t let them intimidate or badger you into anything else.
  • Keep People in Front of You. A criminal will have a much harder time surprising you from the front. If you’re doing a showing, keep everyone in front of you. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped in a room without a way out.
  • Make Sure Others Know Where You Are. Your brokerage, your friends, and your family should always know where you are, the address of the property, and who you’re meeting. There are also cell phone apps that can enhance safety by tracking your location, such as StaySafe, bSafe, or Bugle.
  • Have a Buddy. When you’re doing a showing or an open house, don’t do it alone. It may be inconvenient, but if you set up a swap system with someone else, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Remember, having two people makes you less vulnerable. It’s worth your safety to have a buddy.

In the end, remember that it’s worth the time and effort it takes to stay safe. When you start getting careless, you unfortunately open yourself up to being a target for an opportunistic criminal. It’s not just children who need to be careful around those they don’t know – we all do.

What do you do to stay safe? Share in the comments!

How to Write a Listing That Sells FAST

Great Listing Descriptions

You know that listings are important, but did you know that a single word can cost you thousands of dollars?

A recent report, Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate studied 24,000 listing and discovered that certain keywords tend to sell for more than expected.

“Bottom-tier homes described as luxurious tend to beat their expected sale price by a whopping 8.2 percent,” said the report’s authors, Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries.

“Top-tier homes described as captivating tend to beat theirs by 6.5 percent. That means, if your home’s estimated home value is $110,000, but your listing includes the key word ‘luxurious,’ you could pocket an extra $8,965.”

Did almost $9,000 captivate your attention? Keep reading.

Avoid Cliches. Use Emotive Words

You can do better than Realtor® cliche words like stunning, contemporary or immaculate. Also avoid using words that you mean to be positive, but may throw up red flags for the reader. Like “clean.” Because, why wouldn’t it be?

In terms of words you should work into regular rotation, the Zillow report said these words will earn you the most:

  1. Luxurious
  2. Captivating
  3. Impeccable
  4. Stainless
  5. Basketball
  6. Landscaped
  7. Granite
  8. Pergola
  9. Remodel
  10. Beautiful
  11. Gentle
  12. Spotless
  13. Tile
  14. Upgraded
  15. Updated

Use Your Words to Create a Virtual Tour

Paint a vivid picture in their minds, so they can see themselves living in this home. You want them to be afraid to lose this opportunity.

Mentioning a patio is good. But talking about the summer BBQs they can have is better. Notice how the word “basketball” is on the list above? It paints a nice and wholesome family image of shooting hoops together.

Dare to Stand Out

Too many Realtors® write reviews a certain way because that’s how they were taught and that’s how everyone else does it. If you’re trying to stand out, why do what everyone else is doing?

It all starts with the headline. This will be the first – and possibly only – thing they see.

“Your headline is an extremely important part of your listing because in most cases, this is literally your only shot at getting a buyer to notice you, so you’d better find a way to stand out from the crowd,” wrote real estate blogger, Seth Williams.

“Remember, you only have a split second to catch someone’s attention and engage them into clicking on your listing – so this kind of first impression is EVERYTHING…   I’m not kidding!”

Think Local

Always be sure to sell the property’s proximity to local attractions, amenities, landmarks and major centers. These will almost always be at the top of the list of selling features. So include things like:

  • Walking distance to (local school)
  • Only minutes from (local beach)
  • A short drive to (major neighboring city)

We know you’re going to do this hundreds and hundreds of times. But each listing is someone’s only one. Listings you write should be original, free of clichés and full of emotive descriptions. Remember your ads need to stand out among the rest and offer the real value and specific information people want when they click through for details.

Your printed materials should also look original and use the right key words. How are yours looking? You can update them right now by clicking here.

The Pros and Cons of Open Houses

Pros and Cons of Open Houses

Are open houses overrated? This is a hotly debated topic among today’s Realtors®.

In terms of selling tools, is it dynamite or a dinosaur? There is certainly merit to both sides of this argument. So let’s examine the pros and cons of using the open house to sell a home in today’s marketplace.

Pro: Some Say It Gives More Exposure to the Home

Many purists still swear that properly staging the home and bringing people into to it during an open house remains the best way to showcase it.

They swear by the effect of someone walking through a beautiful home and envisioning their future, as they’re there, in person. They’re looking at the backyard, smelling the kitchen, and feeling the urgency as they see all these other browsers in their future home.

Con: Some Say Open Houses Don’t Really Work

The scenario above is exactly what you’re hoping for, but some say the numbers reveal that this rarely happens.

“The percentage of homes that actually sell as a result of an open house is less than 2-3%,” wrote real estate blogger, Kyle Hiscock.

“The majority of homes are sold when a buyer has a Realtor, requests an appointment, and tours your home privately.  The crowd that an open house attracts is more than likely not going to be the crowd that is going to purchase the home.”

Pro: Some Say It Helps Buyers Look Beyond the Listing

Browsing a photo gallery online is great, but it doesn’t capture the whole experience. An open house can really give fence-sitters the push they need to go into buy-mode. Walking around the house and seeing it all professionally staged can take someone from curious to interested in the span of a single walkthrough

Con: You Can Get the Same Effect From a Virtual Tour

Today’s technology allows you to get better results from a professional video tour of any home.

Now, the key word is professional. The right cinematography and some suitable music can actually create a better experience than an open house. And, this tour doesn’t require the seller or buyer to give up their Saturday.

Another great option is using Facebook Live or Periscope to give a live walk-through yourself. It won’t seem as professional and polished, but it will seem authentic, which can play to your advantage as well.

Pro: Many Sellers Will Still Want the Open House

Your clients may demand it. They’ve seen open houses work over the years, and won’t feel like you’re giving them the full treatment until you stage their home and host an open house.

One of the reasons they decided to work with a Realtor® was to tap into pro home staging and open house skills.

If you don’t host an open house, they may feel like you’re not doing everything in your power to sell their home.

Con: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

You’re the expert, not the seller. If a client insists on an open house, it’s your job to convince them that you’re a seasoned expert, and you feel that the open house is a waste of time.

You could remind them that people who go to open houses may not be qualified leads, but rather nosy neighbors or “tire-kickers” who just want to look without any real intent.

You can show them that tactics like a virtual tour or social media posting can actually yield much better results.

As you can see, there is no clear answer. For everyone who says they have had great success with open houses, there are others who say the numbers don’t back this up. Some will say it’s a tried and tested way to showcase the home, while others say technology now gives us better ways.

One alternate tactic some people have embraced in recent years is using a series of postcards to generate interest. To see what’s possible, click here to choose a design and layout.

How to Make Your Real Estate Listings Stand Out

Real Estate Listings Stand Out

There’s nothing more important that making you real estate listings stand out, especially in a market flooded with competition.

But…how can you do this?

Is there a special formula or strategy to follow that will guarantee results?

Yes and no – while it’s difficult to choose one strategy that’s guaranteed to work for everyone, there are a LOT of little things you can do to really make your real estate listings “pop” and stand out from the crowd.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our favorites – give some of these ideas a try today!

Showcase the Home with a Virtual Tour

What better way to show off your client’s new listing than by bringing prospective buyers to the actual home? And while it may not be realistic to assume that everyone who views a listing will actually step foot on the property, you can bring them there virtually! Try creating a video of your new listing in order to give potential buyers a virtual tour of the outside and inside of the home.

Load You Real Estate Listings with Awesome Photos

We’ve talked about the importance of photography and tips on how to get the perfect shots before, but it’s important enough to bring up again. Never underestimate the power of a well taken, beautifully edited photograph – for both the outside and inside of your new listing. And as a bonus, you can use those photos for printed materials like fliers and just listed postcards as well!

Stage the Property Well and Don’t Forget to Declutter

Another important element that may seem rather obvious but, if done incorrectly, can wreck a new listing is staging the property well. When staging, think about painting a picture of what life could be like for potential buyers – you want them to be able to imagine themselves in the home and know for sure if it will be a good fit for their needs. One tip – get rid of all the clutter or personal items leftover from the previous owners. Attempt to create as blank of a slate (without doing away with the essentials like furniture) as possible.

Use Strong Persuasive Copy for Your MLS Listing Descriptions

We just mentioned the importance of quality images, but it’s equally important to never underestimate the power of the words used to describe your real estate listings. These might just be the words that ultimately cause a potential buyer to take the plunge and make an offer on your listing, so it’s definitely worth taking some time to create a solid description of the property. Some things to consider and include:

  • Details on the neighborhood, location, surrounding areas and the school district the property belongs to.
  • Any special details associated with the kitchen or bathroom, especially recent upgrades – for example, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or a soaker tub in the bathroom.
  • If there have been any recent upgrades to the home – including things like roofing, electrical, HVAC, etc. – be sure to include those items as well.
  • Any neat outdoor features, such as a pool, patio, hot tub or even a large amount of acreage, should be included as well.

Take Advantage of Different Print Marketing Materials

There are so many different ways to advertise and spread the word about your new listing, but distributing print marketing materials should always be near the top of your list. Signs for the front of the property will help draw in passing traffic while new listing flyers and postcards can help to spread the word about the listing even further. Try sending out flyers to homes in the surrounding areas or even posting them on local community bulletin boards. (Printerbees offers a variety of customizable real estate marketing materials if you’d like some inspiration!)

Do Something Digital and Blast New Listings Out Via Email

Digital marketing should never be ignored, and one easy way to make sure your new listing is seen by as many potential buyers as possible is to blast it out to everyone on your email list. While many of these people might be past clients, you never know when someone might be looking to buy a new property, and the one you have listed might just be the perfect fit for them.

There are a lot of different ways to go about marketing your new real estate listing, and there’s no single best way to do it. But, if you give some of these ideas a try, you’ll be well on your way to a successful closing!