Thursday, March 13, 2008

When Realtors Commit this Crime… Sellers Do the Time!

Earlier this week I received a phone call from a desperate a home seller looking to home staging as marketing solution that would help finally sell his $499,000 town home... that had been on the market for over 1½ half years. Right from the start, the caller was frank and wanted to make sure I knew that when compared to similar sized units for sale in the development, his townhouse was the most expensive. He also wanted to make sure I understand the price difference was due to the fact that his property had been totally gutted and extensively remodeled… including the kitchen and baths. So while they all were same size on the inside and looked the same on the outside… his was NOT exactly the same as the neighboring “competition”.

Intrigued to know what we would be working with, I hoped to take a little "sneak peak" and pop over to the listing Realtor’s site. I asked the seller for the name of his Realtor and the name of the firm he sold for. Hmmm… I never heard of THAT company. So I did a quick Google search to find the Realtors site. To my surprise NOTHING came up. WOW… the listing real estate company, nor the Realtor, had a website to market themselves OR their listings. OK, that is a bit odd, but it was a small real estate company… after all there are other online property marketing options available to Realtors for their listings.

Luckily the seller happened to know his MLS#. So with no other place to go and see view the property on line, I did what I have done before... I went over to a popular online-listing site here in Chicago that give buyers the power to preview and pre-screen properties ahead of time. At that site I punched in the MLS#. WA-LA! The listing popped up with an exterior shot of the caller’s property! (Shown Above)
But to my surprise and dismay that was the only picture available on line for anyone to look at. The Realtor was relying on just ONE picture on one publicly accessible site to capture and sell all that this totally updated and rehabbed property had to offer. Why wasn’t the remodeled interior of this town home being marketed? If you ask me there is no excuse for this level of service and is nothing less then a marketing crime. Why a crime? Well, if it is estimated that 80 to 85% of homes buyers now FIRST pre-shop properties via the Internet... what would you say about a Realtor relying on one exterior shot for the buying public to preview is? But the story gets worse.
After we hung up, I was now even more curious. Something told me to take a look at this seller’s competition. So I dug a bit deeper. I then found 2 comparable properties within the exact same development. (SEE clipped ads shown in the larger graphic along with larger original ad) One property listed for $84,000 less then the property the caller owned and the other listed for $89,000 less. Now I know there could be a lot of discussion, pro and con, about the effect listing price has on property sale’s probability, this is NOT the point of this post.
The point I am making has to do with marketing. While I know there are many marketing options and tools (like real estate staging) available. Each Realtor, of these 2 cheaper properties, invested the time and money to tap into one of the most basic yet most effective marketing tools available today. Each used MULTIPLE photos posted on easily an accessible listing site to help build and reinforce potential buyer’s interest. Considering the seller, who I was talking to, had a property that costs more AND offered more, would it not be helpful to capture and display those differences to potential buyers? Plus, what does NOT showing the interior communicate to potential buyers?
Finally just let me say that most likly it is not just the lack of pictures that are keeping this property from selling. The point is that Realtors in today’s industry MUST realize that digital photography, which is cheap and easy, coupled with easily accessible on-line listing sites now give buyers the power to preview and pre-screen properties. (Watch my CURB APPEAL SHOW) Any Realtor that chooses to ignore this basic yet very important fact is committing a crime, that ultimately can cause his client's to have to do some time while they wait for their homes to seller.

Market It Forward…

WOW... REUTERS picked up on this post! (Click Here to see)

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