The world of marketing home is becoming more complicated, but if you know what you are doing that is for the best. Realtors can now reach out to potential buyers that they were not able to reach before and do so quicker, but necessarily cheaper.
Real Estate BCE
Not that long ago, realtors had the “book”, and you could get fined for losing it or giving it to a buyer. In the book was one small, grainy B/W picture of the front of each house listed and maybe a dozen items of info on the house. Now everyone with an internet connection has 10 times that amount of information. That information doesn’t just appear, it was crafted by realtors and other professionals to put the house in the best light without violating NAR regulations, Connecticut laws and the federal Fair Housing Act.
While Realtor.com, Trulia, Compass.com and hundreds of other websites have made lots of information available. Most of it is boring. What makes listing jump off the screen are photos, aerials, and video. A traditional photographer is great, but lots more gets done to the photo before it’s gets to your computer or cell phone screen.
Graphics are not just photos
To begin with the Realtor needs to go over with the photographer the important things on the interior, the outside and the neighborhood that need to be emphasized and pick a time when weather, sun and tide are helping. Once captured, the photos have to be polished. Grass is greened up; skies are brightened, and photos are cropped to emphasize the property’s good features. What is not done, or shouldn’t be done, are removing telephone poles and lines to improve the view. Also, you can’t change the earth’s axis as one L.A. agent did by photoshopping in a sun setting on the southern horizon. Virtual staging of furniture in rooms and photos from prior listings that are no longer representative should be identified.
Drones have added some major impact to photos and are now de rigueur for high-end properties.
The other thing, which has become common are floorplans. If you don’t put them up, prospective buyers will call you up and ask for them. Floorplans cut both ways as some buyers who might otherwise come see the house, won’t come if the present floorplan doesn’t work for them. The Realtor never gets to explain how the floorplan can be improved. The question is for lots of these prospects is whether they might be persuaded to make an offer, i.e., were these buyers really buyers. Floorplans can save a lot of time for everyone.
The rise of video
Videos are also becoming much more common. You have the automated slideshows, then what one videographer calls the Ken Burns videos and at the high-end you have the custom videos where the sky’s the limit in bells and whistles and cost. Ken Burns has done a masterful job of zooming in on photos and fading from one to another to give a static subject a sense of motion and presence. That’s what you get with the beter “virtual tours”. Both the Ken Burns videos and the computer generated slideshow video tours usually come with generic, non-copyrighted music. These generic tours are generated automatically but have a surprising amount of viewing time online.
Once you have the photos, a careful selection in a precise order is uploaded to the MLS along with lots of text information, surveys, maps, deeds and other documentation. This information is then encoded with special codes identifying each datum type and distributed using an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) formatted fee. This feed goes to each MLS broker and to a company called Listhub in Arizona. Listhub then sends the IDX to hundreds of sites, including their sister News Corp company, Realtor.com.
In today’s real estate market that is just the ante to get in the game. Next the Realtor needs to put it up on their Facebook page, their Instagram and Twitter feeds and craft a postcard and research a mailing list. Postcards look simple, but behind the scenes there is lot of technology. At Compass, we have a drag and drop media production system, which means we can do in minutes what used to take hours and needed the help of graphic artist. (Other brokers have this too, but ours is pretty slick. 🙂
What’s really changed is who those postcards go to. It used to be, and it is still common, that they go to the 100 nearest neighbors, whether they just moved in or are likely to live there for another 20 years. Now Big Data services can slice and dice 100’s of factors about someone to focus on those most likely to be interested in your particular listing.
Online marketing ads and SEO and podcasts
Realtors also have paid online advertising to market each property. Prior to 2018, online companies like Facebook would give a realtor a hundred or more parameters to narrow the focus. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a set of regulations banning the use of any parameters that might be discriminatory, such as marital status, children, age, religious affiliation, etc. There are still lots of ways to slice and dice the data that makes it much more likely that the ad will reach a potential buyer.
Search engine optimization is also a great way to reach out to buyers. Russ and I both have blogs at GreenwichStreets.com and RussellPruner.com that rank highly in search engines often in the top ten depending on the search term. PR can also be highly effective, and we just started a radio show on WGCH at 10 am on Mondays Greenwich Streets. That show is distributed not only via the local airwaves, but also streaming live on WGCH.com and in on podcasts on Spotify, Amazon, Apple and Google that people can subscribe to. Our local agents have a wide range of websites, some of which are pretty famous.
Make a plan and work the plan
Realtors have lots of tools that are only getting more features that let us market a house. However, without a carefully crafted campaign integrating all these options with a phased marketing approach, these tools lose a lot of their effectiveness. In a market as hot as this one, a properly price house will sell but will it be for the best price and on the other terms that the seller wants.
Russ and I recently had a listing that went for the most dollars over list of any listing so far this year. The marketing plan for that property ran three pages and took weeks of work before the listing went live. Once live, new parts of the plan kicked in every day. The ultimate buyer came from a hundred miles away and never saw the ads in the Greenwich Sentinel, nor the other local marketing, but several of the other bidders did.
We are not unique, every agent and brokerage firm bring their own way marketing plans and systems. There a wide variety of ways to create a marketing program that works as all these successful agents show, but each year the requirement to do a great marketing program get more complex.
But, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be fun.