Marketing 2010

Having reached this advanced age, it sure seems to me that it’s very easy to default onto things and ideas that have worked in the past and thus feel safe. Often, that’s an illogical feeling since I know that most of these ideas are ancient history. As you can guess, alot of these ideas involve the wonderful world of real estate.

I’m sure no one will be surprised to learn that marketing homes in 2010 is largely an Internet related event. Homes are staged and are made available to thousands (millions?) of potential buyer’s within minutes of the property’s listing on the MLS through professionally shot virtual tours. These usually include several 360 degree panoramic shots along with a dozen or more still shots. As a result of these tours the Tuesday broker tour has sort of become a thing of the past. I can simply look at a virtual tour and know if it’s a possibility for one of my clients. I don’t really need to go see it like I used to do. Buyer’s have the same experience of course. Once a listing hits the MLS, 12 to 15 commercial real estate sites (Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, Movoto, Roost,Yahoo…etc) acquire these photos and thereby assist in the marketing of these homes. Since statistically 85% of home-buyers are introduced to the property they buy via the Internet, it’s a pretty safe bet that the buyer for any given property is going to discover a listing this way.

Yet, a dilemma exists in the second half 2010 market. The market has slowed down and buyers have retreated to the sidelines. Homes are taking longer to sell. It’s not uncommon for a seller to ask, “Is there anything else we can do from a marketing standpoint to sell the house?” The answer, of course, is yes. There are other things we can do. We can buy glossy real estate magazine ads like we did in the past. We can buy larger Sunday open house ads, we can write in the MLS property description something like “Seller Very Motivated!!! Bring Offer Now!!”, we can offer more commission to the buyer’s agent, we can offer a cash bonus to a buyer’s agent for selling the property before a certain date. We can also hire an airplane to do some skywriting above Foster City about the house too…the problem is the odds of most of this working are nil. I truly believe this. Print is completely dead in my opinion. Just like Sunday open house ads in the Chronicle, magazines don’t bring any new buyers into the marketplace for any specific listing. Buyer’s right now are very sophisticated, they see listings online. It’s hard for me to believe that any body’s first exposure to a home comes from anywhere else now.

Sorry, I really don’t think all this other stuff works. I think Homes and Land is all about getting the agents who buy ads new clients…not selling their listings. (I honestly don’t think it works that way either!). I don’t think offering more commission or cash bonuses work either (I tried it…didn’t work). Here’s what works, exposing the home online and via open houses, being competitively priced and actually calling and speaking to agents with buyers. You know what else helps? Patience.

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