Selling a Home—Step 3: Marketing Basics

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The most important job for your real estate agent is the effective marketing of your home. It is important for home sellers to understand that there are several things they may not understand about marketing a home. A good agent can make it look easy, but the reality is that marketing the home well is the product of experience—knowing what works and doesn't work so that the home will sell quickly and for the highest dollar possible.

Now that your home is ready, it's time to put it up for sale and market it. Establishing a marketing strategy with your real estate agent is a must. Your agent will expose your home to the most potential buyers possible using a marketing plan that will have the highest possibility of bringing not only the most buyers, but also the most qualified buyers, to your doorstep.

There are many different ways to get the word out there that your home is for sale. A yard sign, flyers, and direct marketing are just a few of the many options available. If you are in a buyer's market you will have to be extra careful when choosing a plan. You don't want your home to sit with no one showing interest. You and your agent should structure your marketing strategy so that the first 3-6 weeks that your house is on the market will be the busiest.

A professional agent will help you market and sell your home in at least 20 different ways:

1. Make your home more marketable by giving you recommendations on preparing your home to show. One of the ways home sellers are mistaken about the marketing process is not looking at the home through the eyes of the buyer. The way in which you live in your home and the way you sell your home are vastly different. Your real estate agent will know which problems to address in your home, whether it needs fresh paint, the clutter cleaned out, or fresh flowers in the front garden.

2. Help you determine the right price by preparing a detailed market analysis of comparable properties sold within the past 6-8 months and by providing current market conditions. A housing market is ever-changing, and information can provide a guide, but nothing will tell you or the agent what a home buyer will do until your home is tested in the market. Knowing the competition will prepare your home to compete favorably against similar homes.

3. Submit your property to the Multiple Listing Service. Now that MLS systems are electronic, agents are no longer limited by local memberships. The MLS is now part of an international database and is most likely supplying listings to all the major home search Internet sites.

4. Display a yard sign highlighting the special features of your home. Many buyers enjoy looking through favorite neighborhoods on their own. When they call, a good agent will personally return all calls regarding your home.

5. Develop a personalized brochure emphasizing the best selling features of your home. These will be left at your home for buyers and distributed to other agents throughout the area. In some cases, feature sheets about the home can be left for drive-by buyers in a tube on top of the sign.

6. Be prepared with alternative ways for buyers to finance your home and discuss the best options for you as the seller.

7. Schedule tours of your home for top producing agents from your agent's realty office and other offices to view your home first hand.

8. Develop a personalized "JUST LISTED" flier to be distributed door-to-door to neighbors and in nearby move-up and rental neighborhoods.

9. Advertise in publications that will attract buyers to your area and price range, including newspapers, home magazines, and the Internet.

10. Schedule open houses, as needed, to stimulate activity. Although few buyers buy the home they view at an open house, it's a good way to keep the home before the public.

11. Keep you informed as often as possible (usually on a weekly basis) of current market conditions by providing: feedback on showings, copy of all ads your home is advertised in, sold properties in your area and other competition on the market.

12. Review your property's market placement after 30 days if it hasn't sold and make recommendations on what to do to get it sold.

13. Sort out prospects by: Pre-qualifying buyers, Screening lookers and answering questions about your home specifically.

14. Sell buyers on taking action by knowing the neighborhood, competing properties in the area and the many special features your home has to offer.

15. Negotiate the purchase agreement and, in doing so, represent your best interests. There may be situations in which dual agency applies.

16. Assist the buyer or buyer's agent in finding the best financing alternatives, if needed, to keep the transaction in place.

17. Coordinate all of the closing details:

  • Follow up with buyer's mortgage application
  • Order and schedule appraisal
  • Provide appraiser with comparable sales
  • Order all title work
  • Order lender(s) payoff
  • Coordinate all inspections (i.e. termite, gas, radon, well, septic, property inspection and other certifications, if necessary)
  • Review the settlement figures for accuracy
  • Arrange for Power of Attorney (if needed)

18. Be on hand to handle last minute contingencies concerning the contract, inspection, appraisal or anything else not completed before closing.

19. Accompany you to closing and help you through the settlement procedure.

20. Stay in contact to make sure everything is in order and to see if they can be of service again.