When I first started in real estate, I was taught that the two most important elements of selling a home were 1.) Price and 2.) Condition. This has been taught in real estate for many years. I would like to challenge that statement. In my experience, MARKETING can be equally -and often more- important when selling a home. Professional marketing is the secret sauce that sells homes! There are more options to market a home than ever before. The way a home is marketed online determines how much attention it gets. I’ve seen homes that were priced too high end up in multiple offer situations due to impressive marketing presentations online (example at the end of this article). I’ve also seen homes sell for less than they are worth due to poor marketing efforts. Unfortunately, I’ve seen more of the latter. When people ask me to sell their house in Colorado Springs, I'm often surprised that they haven't thought much about the type of marketing that they would like for their home. They are usually focused on what their home is worth and getting their house ready for the market.
If I were to give you two presents to choose from and one was beautifully wrapped with a big satin bow while the other was wrapped in newspaper and duct tape, which present would you choose? The nice pretty one, right? This is the same concept with online marketing. When a property is presented well, buyers assume that the property is better than those that are not listed with the same effort. Consumers that have worked with skilled marketing agents have much different experiences than the average home seller. They have most likely experienced a buying frenzy on their listing, while their neighbors house sits on the market for 40 days with no offers. When a house is presented well online, buyers sense the excitement and passion about the property. It creates an awareness that the property is special. That causes buyers to submit higher offers out of a fear of loosing out. The opposite is true when a listing is bland and boring.
Technology has changed real estate from a salesperson business, to a marketing business. This statement may ruffle feathers with some seasoned agents in the real estate community, but consumers know it’s true. Salespeople used to be a resource to get information about products and services. Now consumers can get almost all of the information online before they ever meet a salesperson, so they don’t need to be sold. Consumers will go out of their way to avoid salespeople if they have the option. However, these consumers still need to be advised and informed by a professional on many aspects of the real estate process. They do not need to be sold to anymore. We can access endless amounts of neighborhood forums, agent reviews, property listings, and market statistics online. For this reason, utilizing new technology to creatively market the best assets of a property online have never been more important. Properties that are marketed to their highest potential typically sell for higher prices.
If you were asked to be interviewed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, would you ask someone to help you pick out your clothes, do your make-up and get your hair ready, or would you just show up and see what happens? Well, luckily The Tonight Show has a make up and clothing design crew who would do that for you. Their job is to make you look as good as possible before you are presented to the world on television. That is essentially what the role of a listing agent is, except they are doing it with your real estate. They take your most expensive possession and work their magic to make it look amazing. There are agents who choose to just post a listing online and see what happens. Don’t hire them! Hire the agent who is passionate about making your home look amazing when it is presented to the online world.
Photos are the most important form of marketing because they are the consumers first visual point of contact with your listing. First impressions are everything in marketing. If the photos are bad, home buyers will never pay attention to the other forms of marketing used to list your home. Technology and photography are sometimes at odds though. I recently wrote an article called How To Get The Best Photos When Listing Your Home and I got slammed by a few photographers who do not sell real estate. So let me start by saying what should be obvious- the tech options I’ll describe below are specific to real estate and are proven to sell homes, but they do not necessarily reflect basic photography practices for all industries. Here are some photography technologies that you should be aware of as a consumer to help you determine your listing agents knowledge of the field.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) - This is a process of taking multiple photos of the same image using different light exposures, combining the images and pulling the best pixel out of each image to balance the light properly. It allows the user to capture the best light possible and alter the image to the users preference. HDR fixes many issues with indoor photography and allows photos to stand out from non-HDR photos online. Here’s a great slideshow that demonstrates the dramatic affects of HDR: CLICK HERE
Wide-Angle Lens - A wide angle lens (around 10mm) is what I prefer on my photos. It makes the room look large, allowing the most amount of space to be captured by the lens. Some photographers will complain about the “fisheye” affect caused by the wide angle lens, which leads right into the next photo technology….
Lightroom - Lightroom is a program by Adobe that allows users to adjust settings on images. It has a feature that will level out the photo and remove the “fisheye” affect. This option, combined with a 10mm lens creates images that capture as much of the room as possible. I understand that there are photographers who do not like filters and like to keep the image as original as possible, but in real estate we’re not trying to win photography awards. We’re trying to sell homes for top dollar and these technologies do that with great impact.
In my experience, video is the most powerful selling tool for marketing real estate. You can display the best assets of a property and control the pace, while adding text that conveys special characteristics about the property. Below is a video I made for a listing a couple of weeks ago. Notice how the overlaid text sells the high points. It also distracts from any objections that may keep the buyer from looking at the property. The areal drone footage at the beginning creates a dramatic entrance that immediately captures the buyers interest. Would you want this kind of marketing for your listing?
The first time I used a video to sell a home was in 2009. I made a video walkthrough to the best of my ability and put in the property description: “SEARCH PROPERTY ADDRESS ON YOUTUBE FOR VIDEO WALKTHROUGH” since there was no place to upload it in our MLS. To this day, I still start all of my listings with this sentence. The property was listed in a new neighborhood and was competing with new inventory from builders. There were 11 homes that were listed in that neighborhood during the same time period, and none of them sold because they had to compete with new builder homes. We received a strong offer within 25 days. The buyer who bought the house took 2 weeks to submit an offer from the last time they visited the property. At closing, I asked them why it took so long to put an offer in. They responded that they weren’t sure if this was the right house for them, but they kept watching the video and that sold it to them over and over again. Since then, I have heard this on multiple occasions from other buyers. Videos get into buyers heads like no other form of marketing; it’s not surprising that it is the fastest growing form of marketing outside of real estate.
A Side Note on 3D Walkthroughs:
3D walkthroughs by Matterport are starting to become popular in real estate. Check out an example from Matterport’s website. While I’m anxious to adopt this next technology, I’m still skeptical that it may sell technology more than actually selling real estate. I can see it being useful for hotels, restaurants, brand new builder homes, time-shares, and vacation rentals. However, it seems risky for an owner occupied home because it reveals everything and allows viewers to see EVERY part of the house. That includes the closets, toilets, storage areas, basements, etc. I like having the control over marketing with video, rather than revealing every nook and cranny of a home at the viewer’s control. My concern is that it will cause consumers to feel like they do not need to visit the property. As a listing agent, my job is to get as much showing traffic to the property as possible to try and create a buying frenzy and sell for top dollar. Nothing sells a house like being there in person. Some consumers have voiced concerns of privacy issues as well, since it gives the public a full layout of the property, which can be viewed by anyone. I’ve also noticed that the Matterport walkthroughs crash often when I view them on my smart phone. This is because the walkthroughs require a very large amount of data. I could be wrong and this technology may become a standard in the business at some point, but for now I am still skeptical.
Social media is a powerful way to get the word out about your home being listed online. When I list a home, I take the video that I created and post it in a Facebook Ad that is targeted to potential homebuyers in my local areas. These ads get thousands of views and get shared all over. Social media is a technology that is constantly evolving and will always be used for marketing. Currently very few agents pay to market their listings on Facebook. This will likely change over time, but for now you won’t see many listings there.
Once your listing is in a Facebook Ad campaign, it stands alone in a consumers news feed. When it’s a video, it starts playing automatically and captures local viewer’s attention immediately. Everyone knows someone who needs to buy a home, and Facebook Ads are a great way to get your listing in front of your local community within hours. Other social media sites do not offer the same exposure as Facebook, but can help drive traffic to your listing as well, such as Pinterest and Instagram.
If you're a real estate agent who has never used Facebook Ads before, here is a handy guide I created to help you through the process for the first time: CLICK HERE
As long as there is marketing, there will always be graphic design. Graphics can be used on individual property pages (example from the listing in the video above), in videos, blogs, Facebook ads, marketing print materials, and on and on. Knowing how to create stunning graphics can help market a home with style that other listings do not have. Before hiring a listing agent, ask to see some of their print and/or design materials. It will let you know if their design sense is current, or stuck in another decade. Their website will usually reveal this as well. It’s important to have a Realtor who has good design sense and knows how to make every piece of marketing material look amazing.
One Caveat I Must Mention
It should go without saying, but all the creative marketing in the world will not help your property if it isn’t ready to be listed. I can not stress enough the importance of having a staging specialist consult you on what needs to be done to the property before your photos are taken. This is a service that top Realtors provide for their clients because they know the importance of it. Before we begin the process to market a property, we need to make sure it’s going to show well.
How to Choose the Best Agent for Your Listing
With all this information about marketing technology, why would you choose to use an agent simply because you’re related to them, or they are connected to you socially. Would you choose a surgeon that way? In my experience, that is the worst way to choose an agent. Yet, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this is still the most common way that people find and hire their listing agent. Instead of using the first Realtor that you know to list your house, you should first check out their marketing materials. Ask to view the last few listings that they sold. Compare their work with other agents. If it doesn’t compare, then don’t hire them! Hiring an agent who does not utilize technology to list your house is like going to a car lot and paying 2015 prices for a 2010 model car. It just doesn’t make sense. You are hiring the listing agent to market your home online.
A Great Example of How Professional Marketing Works
The house in the video above was listed on the same street as a similar property that was on the market for a while. I just listed it 2 weeks ago. My seller wanted to sell at the very top of the neighborhood price range. The other property was listed for $35,000 less than he wanted to list his home for. It had also been on the market for 65 days when I met with my seller for our initial consultation. He was worried that it wasn't possible to get an offer at the price we were listing at and expected the home to sit on the market for months, based on the other listing down the street. Frankly I was also concerned because I knew we were priced high. He had hired me because I listed his neighbor’s house and sold it in 2 days for over asking price, and it was priced $10,000 higher than other similar listings.
We ended up getting multiple offers on his property and got it under contract for our asking price within 7 days of being listed online. The major difference between his property and the one still sitting on the market was that one was listed with minimal effort and one was listed to standout. My client’s home looked much larger in the photos, and the video was viewed over 100 times within the first 5 days. The marketing sold the property! Creative marketing can put thousands of dollars in your pocket when you sell your home. Many consumers are not aware of this, but I see it every time I list a home. When I first met my client, he gave me push back on my listing fee. Now, he’s talking about giving me a bonus at closing because he is so pleased with my results. Don’t settle for mediocre marketing when listing your house. Find an agent that knows how to utilize technology and market your home to it’s top potential online. It’s the most important element of listing a home to sell for top dollar!
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