Keller Williams Realtor CC Underwood reveals how solid marketing can get homes sold quickly.
Time is money, as the saying goes.
Keller Williams Realtor CC Underwood explained how proper marketing can expedite the homeselling process at the Northeast Florida Builders Association Lunch & Learn in May.
Skillful online marketing is critical, Underwood said. If buyers don’t like what they see online, they won’t schedule a showing.
“In all price ranges for every 10 showings, you should have one offer, if not more,” she said.
“Your marketing is your brand,” Underwood said. It’s essential that the branding reflect the quality of the product.
She acknowledged that marketing can be costly, but the investment will be beneficial in terms of reducing how long the home sits on the market.
As the industry changes, marketing strategies have evolved as well. For example, today’s buyers want to view videos of listings.
“If you’re not willing to change with the industry, then you are going to be left behind,” Underwood said. “You’ve got to constantly innovate and do it. Sometimes that means spending money.”
Always hire a professional photographer to take photos of the property, Underwood said.
There are seven images buyers want to see: the front elevation, the backyard, the pool, the kitchen, the master bedroom, the master bath and the family room.
Be sure the photos reflect the true colors of the exterior and interior of the home. Interior shots can be tricky because of lighting.
Include aerial photographs, especially if the home is in a golf community or there are other distinct neighborhood amenities.
For new construction, Underwood advocates interactive videos, such as live, on-site walk-throughs. Educational videos about the overall product or specific features, such as showcasing available lots, are another option.
Ideally, the videos should be between 60 seconds and two minutes long, Underwood said. They can be posted to Facebook or YouTube.
Staging and updates
Certain colors, such as red — a trendy color in the late 1990s and early 2000s — and patterns, such as florals, will date a home. Paint is an easy, inexpensive update.
When the significance of color is explained in terms of dollar value, sellers aren’t opposed to painting, Underwood said.
Many million-dollar homes sitting on the market are too dated for the price the sellers are asking, Underwood said. That’s a conversation the professional must have with the client.
Homestaging also can have a significant impact. For vacant homes, Underwood suggests virtual staging rather than filling the home with furniture.
Because many buyers rely on online photos when home shopping, virtual staging uses computer technology to add furniture and other décor to photos of listings. At a cost of about $35 per room, “it’s completely worth it,” she said.
For model or luxury homes, Underwood prefers in-home staging. If the home is less than $500,000, she suggests staging only the main rooms: master bedroom, dining room, a study, an office, breakfast nook and family room. Patio furniture is another option.
Staging, though, can be overdone, Underwood cautioned.
“There’s a fine line between staged and too much,” she said. Don’t place items on top of kitchen cabinets, for instance, because it can adversely affect the perception of space, making the area look smaller.
Today’s buyers are information-seekers, and by providing documentation up front on the Multiple Listing Service, the seller can both demonstrate the property’s value and reduce the back-and-forth conversations about specifics.
“Most buyers are looking online three to six months before they actually purchase and contact a Realtor,” Underwood said.
For example, the cost of utilities is asked by many buyers. Include a utility sheet that lists the average cost, as well as information such as the electric company, cable provider, homeowners’ association dues and lawn maintenance company.
If there’s a pool on the property, include the cost of upkeep and the company the seller uses for maintenance.
“These are the true fees and factors that are going to make up the buyer’s mind because they’re thinking payments,” Underwood said.
Have the seller create an upgrade sheet and their cost. With resales, buyers tend to have a disconnect between an upgrade and its value, Underwood said.
If the home doesn’t have a pool, have a designer draw some design specs for one and post it on MLS. “They can’t visualize it if they can’t see it,” Underwood said.
The seller also should write a letter for potential homebuyers that describes the property and the community. The seller can highlight annual community gatherings and provide an overall impression of the neighborhood.
Also, include details such as room dimensions and the school district.
“People are making decisions based on the school district,” Underwood said, “And if you either advertise it wrong or don’t advertise it at all, you could be missing buyers who are searching by school district.”
Underwood places high value on Facebook as one of her team’s top three sources of business for both buyers and sellers.
Posts that generate the most traffic are “coming soon” and price reductions. Open houses and featured listings also make effective posts.
Unless it’s a highly sought area such as Nocatee, for example, the Underwood team seldom includes the location of the home.
Underwood added that her team will boost their Facebook posts, but they rarely use the Facebook ads feature.
Open houses and prospecting
Underwood strongly advocates open houses. To execute a successful open house, preparation is essential, she said. Promote the open house and invite people, including the neighbors.
Neighbors also can provide promising leads. If a new listing becomes available, let the neighbors know someone in their neighborhood is selling their house and ask if they know anyone who might like to live there.
An additional strategy is to market the listing to surrounding neighborhoods to let them know about the opportunity to move up in a nearby community. “Typically, people stay close,” Underwood said.
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