How to sell a house: basics and myths | Inman News

How to sell a house: basics and myths

Realtor Notebook


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Do most real estate agents really understand how to sell a house? What could be more basic?

This isn’t 2005 and so we can’t sell them all, but it isn’t because we don’t try — it is because in most markets there are still more sellers than buyers.

For me, the home-selling process starts with selling the homeowners on using me as their real estate agent, and for that I use a listing presentation. The presentation gets tweaked every year, or more often if needed, and it gets used the most this time of the year.

Tweaking the listing presentation has to do with figuring out what the competition is doing and adding that to my listing presentation, along with some extras. There are some basics in my presentation that have not changed over the years, like communication with sellers, Internet advertising and a full flier box.

The humble, low-tech, inexpensive for-sale sign and flier box are still powerful ways to market real estate, as is putting the home in the multiple listing service with as many amazing photographs are allowed.

Knowing what the competition is doing isn’t hard. I learn about some of it from reading marketing materials on the Internet. The rest I learn from my clients and from prospective sellers who interview three or more agents before making a decision.

I know the sales pitches used by the big companies because their agents are the ones who I am competing with most of the time. One of those companies puts a lot of emphasis on its website, so I make sure to point out that if I list a home it will be on that same website.

Another company likes to sell the idea of market share. I work in a four-agent brokerage — we are not big enough to have market share. If sellers bring up market share I ask them how they think market share will speed the sale of their home, and explain that neither buyers nor their agents typically search for homes by brokerage brand.

The other big players like to emphasize agent networking. I remember how the networking worked; I got e-mails announcing new listings from agents in markets 30 miles away. Today, I network with agents who do business in my area and it doesn’t matter which company they are with. I am more interested in the type of buyers they have, and I explain this to prospective sellers.

When I examine the marketing strategies that I use, I realize that most of the tactics are being used because it is what the competition is doing or because the activities support the beliefs of the sellers, and it is what they expect.

I am not convinced that open houses sell homes, or that QR (quick response) codes help, or that homes that are marketed with video sell faster, or that video makes a big difference in the marketing process.

And I’m not convinced that marketing a home on 26 websites is better than having it on one or two websites.

Correctly priced, clean homes that are in good repair and that are accessible to buyers, and that have been staged, sell the fastest if they have amazing photographs and are on the MLS.

Sellers do not really understand what it will take to sell their home. They would rather believe the marketing myths they have learned through our advertising, and throw in a statue of St. Joseph for extra luck.

I do what I say I am going to do in my listing presentation, but only because I said I would do it.

I hear all sorts of crazy ideas about how to sell real estate. Much of what I do is really customer service — it is what I need to do to keep my clients happy so that I have the opportunity to sell their home.

Teresa  Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real  Estate blog.

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