The face of Real Estate marketing has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. It wasn't too long ago that most consumers were discovering newly listed homes by reading their local Sunday newspaper each week. With the advent of the internet, websites, digital photography and videography, it has never been easier to discover new homes for sale and a wealth of information about each home.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 100% of consumers will utilize the internet in their home search. Those that do not are now such a small group that they are statistically insignificant. It is more important than ever that each "for sale property have top notch marketing utilizing dedicated property websites, top quality digital photography, aerial photography, high definition Home Videos, professional Floor Plans, and Home Staging. At The MAPropertiesOnline Team we utilize each of these marketing strategies and more to maximize the exposure of the home and to bring our clients to the forefront of the market to achieve maximum home equity. Whether you try to sell your home on your own, or hire a broker who does not offer a full range of the marketing strategies outlined here, you're doing yourself, and the equity you have in your home, a disservice.
Today's home buyers are accustomed to having information at their fingertips. If it's difficult, or at all time consuming, to gather information about a home that interests them there is an increased likelihood that they will lose interest and move on. Dedicated property websites, for example www.158Burlington.com, are one strategy to get the information about the home to the consumer as quickly as possible, even if they are standing in front of the house. Analysis shows that less than 10% of homes sold in Lexington in 2013, excluding the MAPropertiesOnline team listings, utilized a dedicated property website and 0% utilized a version, formatted specifically for handheld devices, of the dedicated property website.
At the forefront of technology applications in the real estate arena are QR codes. They are not really mainstream yet with general consumer marketing, but their presence is increasing on a daily basis. Agents who have adopted the use of QR codes are using leading edge marketing techniques. When the aim of marketing is to increase exposure of an item, QR codes are critical to the real estate industry. Often we will see consumers at the sign in the front yard of homes we have on the market, with their phone out scanning the QR code for more information. It is not good enough to have a QR code that points a consumer to a general website which has not been developed for smartphones as they are unwieldy and provide little information of a specific nature. What is necessary is for the QR code to link to a website that has been designed and developed for viewing on a smartphone and has all of the information, literally, at the buyers' fingertips.
Our signs, and all of our printed materials, have a QR code on them which allows the prospective buyer standing in front of the home to scan the code which will take them to the mobile version of the website for that home. This provides the consumer instant answers to their questions, which is what they expect today.
You'd be surprised at how many homes are listed in MLS with 1 photo, or photos that look as if they were taken with a mobile phone? The photos are, in most cases, the first impression the consumer has of the home. It's crucially important that it be a good first impression. Furthermore, assumptions are made about a home based on the quality of the photos. Poor photos may lead a potential buyer to believe that the home owner did not maintain their home properly, or that they lack pride of ownership, which is another indicator that proper care may not have been taken. Utilizing 25+ high quality photos of each home allows us to give the potential buyer the absolute best first impression. Research of the homes sold in Lexington in 2013 shows that 45% had fewer than 15 photos in MLS, when MLS allows up to 30 photos. When 100% of buyers search for a home online, having fewer than 15 photos to showcase the home is poor marketing by the agent.
The concept of aerial photography in real estate has been around for quite some time in commercial real estate, but it has been a rarity in residential real estate due to the prohibitive cost. It used to involve hiring a photographer who would then rent a helicopter and photograph the property, usually at great distance, from the air. With the advent of aerial drone technology, we are able to bring aerial photography and video to each of the homes we sell. The aerial perspective gives a view of the home that is otherwise unattainable, and gives the prospective buyer an opportunity to better see the size and scope of a home in perspective to the area. It allows you to see the home's relationship to neighboring homes and better visualize the size of the yards. It also adds an intangible sense of quality to the home. Consumers are accustomed to sweeping aerial camera shots in television and movies, by bringing similar shots to real estate we increase the perceived quality of the home to the consumer. We're fairly certain that we are the first and only brokers in the area utilizing this technology.
With the growing popularity of websites like YouTube, it's become of paramount importance to have a video of anything that you hope to market to a broad consumer base. Ignore video at your own peril. In real estate the concept of "Virtual Tours" (a slideshow of photos of the home set to music) has been used for some time by a small percentage of agents, but with the relative ease of use and low cost of HD video cameras, there is simply no excuse for not giving every online viewer of your home the full walk-through experience online, before they visit the home. Sometimes photos can be misleading. Have you ever viewed the photos of a home online and tried in vain to piece together the layout of the home based on the photos? Well, no more. A well edited walk-through video can give the consumer the next best thing to actually being there, and can mean the difference between them coming to see the home in person and perhaps ignoring the home entirely. If a buyer doesn't connect with a home based on the photos they will dismiss it quickly, but often a video of the home will give the buyer a totally different 'connection' to the home. A recent study of homes sold in Lexington in the past year indicates that, aside from homes that we listed, less than 1% of the homes sold included a video tour (HD or otherwise). We provide a professional video tour of every home we bring on the market for sale. Check them out on our YouTube channel: MAPropertiesOnline
The final piece to the "I can't tell what the layout of the house is from the photos" puzzle is the floor plan. They are becoming more and more popular, yet there are still over 40% of homes sold without them, based on homes sold in Lexington in 2013. The problem is that people will forget how the home is laid out if they have seen several homes, unless they can refer back to floor plans. Layout is such an important facet to a home buyer. It allows them to visualize their belongings, and their family, in the home after they've left the home but are weighing their options. We provide a full set of floor plans of each level of the homes we list, and you should expect it from your agent when you sell your home.
Gone are the days that home staging was considered only for high end homes. Statistically, homeowners who spent $500 or more on staging recovered an average of over 300% of the cost when they sold their home. Furthermore, in controlled tests selling identical homes, professionally staged vs. those not staged, the non-staged homes sold in 102 days, while the staged homes sold in 45 days. We know that homes selling faster statistically sell for more money on average. Unless your home already looks like it was taken from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalogue, there may be value to be gained. Wallpaper should be the first thing to go. Old, dated, and bulky furniture should be replaced with modern, understated furnishings. Lighting should be enhanced by bringing in additional lamps.
Our team has an inventory of several homes worth of furniture which we provide for staging purposes to our clients at no extra cost. This can be savings of several thousand dollars in furniture rental cost. We deliver the furniture and stage the home to maximize the buyer's impression of the home.
Buyers often view the quality of the home with the quality of the printed materials produced for the home. Quality printed materials, available for all private showings, and available to Open House attendees can elevate the 'feel' of the home to buyers. If a buyer goes to two houses in a row, and one provides quality printed materials with glossy photos and lots of information, and the other simply prints a sheet from MLS, then the home with quality printed material stands out, and appears to the buyer to provide a different level of value for the home. A marketing tool we use for every home is to provide statistical data of the town where the home is located combined with the glossy brochure on the home. Many buyers are not provided information about the market by their buyer's agent and have little understanding of the market dynamics that exist. By providing this information to buyers in a 'packet' available at the home, and online on the dedicated website, buyers have a comfort level that they understand the market and have the confidence to move forward in a purchase of the home. Our team will send upwards of 400+ of 5" x 8" or 8" x 12" postcards, and will not just send them to your neighbors, but will send them to a targeted list of potential buyers for your home. Neighbors are an important source of buyers as some folks know people who would like to buy in their area, but a targeted list is also important.
Open houses are important to maximizing exposure to your home in the first few weeks of your home being on the market. The first two to three weeks of your home being on the market are critical to getting the highest net price for your home. The serious buyers, those who are ready to buy today, will make arrangements to get in to see the house almost immediately, either with their agent for a private showing, or during the first one or two open houses. Having multiple open houses the first weekend, Saturday and Sunday, allows more opportunities for those serious buyers to get in to see the home.
In some towns, broker tours are very important in getting 'the word out' to agents in the area about your home and are always held in the first week of the home coming on the market. The aim is to have the agent preview the home for their buyers and hopefully the home will be perfect for one of their buyers - remembering that the serious buyers always have agents working with them as buyer's agents. The best sign during a broker tour is to spot an agent outside in his/her car, after having seen the home, on the phone to their buyers to tell them they have just seen their perfect house.
Each of these services in and of themselves can have a positive effect on the ultimate sale, but combined they put the home in the absolute best position to attract more buyers and receive more offers, and ultimately sell for a higher price. Better Marketing = Better Exposure = Better Results.
If you would like an estimate of what your home would sell for in today's market I would be more than happy to come by, have a look at your home, and then provide a CMA (comparative market analysis) which will provide you with an estimate of what your home should sell for, along with a marketing plan to get maximum exposure for your home.
If you'd like to chat more about the topic presented here, or the Real Estate market in general, then please call me on (617) 997 9145, or email me at Dani.Fleming@MAPropertiesOnline.com.