I don’t expect this post to be very popular. I expect some real estate colleagues might get a little upset that I am pointing all this out. I expect that you as a Seller, might get a little upset if you are not receiving everything I outline below.
Well, so be it.
I cannot stand for mediocrity any longer. I want to encourage my colleagues to rise above the muck of the real estate reputation and shine. And I want you and those considering selling their homes to know your rights and what you should expect.
Obviously there are things like honesty, strong negotiation skills, neighborhood knowledge, analytical skills, good communication etc…that are top priority when selecting an agent. But let’s look now at how an agent should present your house.
Upgraded version of Realtor.com
Since Realtor.com remains among the top real estate search engines and almost 90% of home searches begin online, ask your agent if they have the upgraded version of Realtor.com. This version allows for up to 24 photos (instead of 4), more information, links to virtual tours etc…This is particulary important with MOBILE search. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a car with a client, we pass by a house, pull it up on Realtor.com’s app, and can only see four, mostly terrible, photos. The moment is lost. Here’s what it should look like.
Professional photos of your house
I will save everyone some embarrassment by not telling you how much professional photography costs, but I can say, it’s remarkably low. You can’t afford to hire an agent who WON’T do this. I consider myself a fairly skilled photographer, I have a fancy DSLR and a tripod and excellent editing software, and I STILL prefer to hire a professional, because they are just a little bit better than me. Again, photos of your house are the #1 most important part of being able to sell it.
Now I am not talking about bringing in additional furniture, or setting up fake place settings at the dining room table (though there are times when that is appropriate). I am talking about you and your agent, working together to clear out any clutter or extraneous furnishings/accessories before taking the professional photos. No one wants to see the appliances all over your kitchen counter or stacks of files on your desk. Honestly, it makes a big difference in how the photos turn out. Try to keep it that way for showings if at all possible. I would also heed your agent’s advice about minor fixes to your home. Take off that wallpaper or purple paint. It’s just better that way.
Here’s an example of an unstaged, non-professionally photographed room. Note the over-exposed windows, the clutter on the desk and the awkward angle. The room is probably much prettier than that. But this is unacceptable. The house is over $4,000,000.
If your house has a great, or even average floor plan, this is something you absolutely want to showcase and should ask your agent to invest in it. I work with a fantastic company that produces these and much, much more. Floorplanonline.com creates interactive floor plans, virtual tours, property specific websites, YouTube videos etc…Our company is in the process of implementing over 40 of them, and we are just getting started. Check out my colleague’s listing at 513 Ocean Blvd, Isle of Palms for a great example of what they can do. And here’s a screen shot of the basic interactive floor plan.
There’s even a new type of interactive floor plan out there called My House in 3D. I haven’t seen it in use yet and the jury is still out – but let me know what you think about it!
Some sort of video tour should always be used. Even if your agent combines still photos with video footage of easier-to-film angles or outdoor scenes, it helps. And please please, make them use an HD camera. Here’s an example of a fantastic, innovative home tour of 6816 Pacific View Drive in California’s Hollywood Hills. My hat goes off to Eric Lavy for this one. I’m keeping it for inspiration.
What’s most important in real estate? Location, location, location. Ask your agent to somehow showcase the neighborhood with photos, a bird’s eye or street view, a WalkScore, an ‘Around Me’ type of feature – something. People are not buying a home in a vacuum. (Hmm, maybe a neighborly interview could be included in the Video Tour?)
Good internet marketing
There are lots of ways to market a house online (besides just auto-posting the listing on a bunch of different sites). Each house has its best medium or channel based on the most likely type of buyer. Whether your house is marketed via the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Day, or on Twitter, or in a blog (or via all of the above), ask your agent to outline their strategy, and then have them send you a weekly or monthly report with links showing you what is happening.
Zillow and Trulia home fact checking
Whether we like it or not, home buyers love to check out the Zestimates and Trulia’s new Estimates when they are considering a house. I’ve heard many times before, “Well the Zestimate is only XYZ so that’s what I want my offer to be.” Now you know how I feel about the inaccuracy of these, but do yourself a favor – at least ask your agent to help you make sure your house is well represented on these sites. Check the number of bedrooms, the square footage, the acreage, the renovation level etc…It might just make a difference.
Agent open houses
Contrary to popular belief, the public open houses are not that useful to you as the Seller. They are more of a way for your agent to meet potential buyers. However, I am a huge fan of the Agent Open House, or Broker’s Open (depending on where you are in the country). I attend them as often as possible and it helps tremendously in not only matching my clients with their perfect house to buy, but also sizing up your house against the competition, so I can better know how to sell it. I’ll be going to 7 of them today. These Agent Open Houses are best conducted during times of the week when there are others being held, or as part of a “Caravan.”
The Cold Hard Truth
Of course, none of this will matter much if the house isn’t priced right. So in support of all my hard-working industry colleagues whom you’ve just asked to do all of the above, I ask you dear Seller, in exchange for this information, please give back a little too. Listen to what they have to say about the price. Because if the agent is good and he/she wants to actually sell your house rather than just put his/her sign in your yard, they are 100% right about it.
Sellers, I hope that all of this helps. These are all the things I would be and do if I were your listing agent. If you do choose someone else, please ask them to do these things for you too.
I also want to thank the agents out there who continue to push the envelope, inspire others, provide stunning service to their clients and make everyone else reach just a little higher. I wouldn’t be here without you.
“A rising tide lifts all boats” – JFK
- 10 Characteristics of a Great Realtor (doorfly.com)
- 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Realtor to Find a Home (doorfly.com)
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