Don’t underestimate power of online marketing, private showings
By Dian Hymer
Some buyers are looking for a home that’s located in a specific neighborhood. Others have more flexibility regarding where they live. But most buyers share one thing in common: They want a home that’s in move-in condition.
Start working on attracting buyers to your home by putting the property in good condition before it goes on the market. In most cases, it’s not a good idea to show your home to a prospective buyer before it’s ready to be shown. Photos should also wait until your home presents itself well.
Pay attention to “curb appeal”; first impressions are lasting. Some buyers drive by without taking a look inside if they don’t like the way a house looks from the street. The yard should be clean and tidy. Replace the front lawn if it’s dead; the same goes for plants that have seen better days. Flowering plants make your home look festive and inviting.
Peeling paint should be touched up, if possible. If an entire exterior paint job is called for, consider changing the color scheme to enhance the appeal. One seller repainted the exterior of his home before selling without consulting his agent or a colorist. He repainted using the existing color scheme, which was out of date. The house didn’t sell quickly. When it did, the first thing the buyers wanted to do was change the color of the exterior.
Repair deferred maintenance, particularly if it’s visible from the street. You want to convey the impression that your home has been well maintained. If you can’t afford to repair and paint the white picket fence in front of your house, it would be better to remove it than leave it.
Houses that don’t have much architectural appeal can often be improved by the addition of shutters. Houses that don’t show much from the street can be enhanced with an architecturally intriguing gate or entryway. You want to peak buyers’ interest in seeing what they can’t see from the street.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: List with an agent who can provide wide exposure for your home, including extensive Internet advertising. The vast majority of homebuyers search for homes online. Buyers discount Internet listings that do not have photos, and they gravitate toward those with many photos and quality photos. Make sure that the agent you list with will not put your home on the multiple listing service or Internet without plenty of quality, representative photos — 15 or more is good.
The importance of Internet advertising should not be underestimated. The Internet is global and available 24/7. Buyers often find the listing they want to buy on the Internet before their agent has seen it. After surfing the Internet, some buyers decide to buy outside the area they were focusing on if they see something elsewhere that appeals to them.
Local marketing may work in some cases, but you wouldn’t want to cut yourself short. Broad exposure of your listing to the market is an integral part of selling.
Although the buyer for your home could come from anywhere, you do want it to be exposed to the local agents. Your agent should hold the listing open for real estate agents as soon as it’s ready to be shown. Repeat broker open houses may be necessary to make sure a representative number of agents see the listing.
Public open houses are good exposure. Some buyers still find the home they buy at an open house. However, they don’t pay off like they did during the bubble market. Encourage private showings, which require that you make it easy for agents to show your home to their buyers.
THE CLOSING: The best way to attract buyers to your listing is to price it right for the market. Otherwise, all of your efforts will be for naught.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of “House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide.”