By Doug Hutchins, Douglas County Realtor
Important things a Realtor does when selling a home is to market the home to Buyers and other Realtors. Unfortunately, after 7 years in this business, I am still shocked to see how poorly some properties are marketed. Or, is there a word for “not marketed”?
I was reminded of this last week as I looked for homes in my neighborhood for a client. I had seen the For Sale sign go up in the yard of this home, but had not seen it appear on the Denver MLS searches I had been running for this client. Since I knew this floor plan met their needs, I knew it should be showing up on my home search. So I started to investigate why the home was not showing up in my searches.
Almost all Realtors start searching for homes for their clients in the MLS. The MLS is the system used exclusively by Realtors to market homes to other Realtors. In addition, the MLS feeds the majority of public internet sites where consumers can find information about homes for sale. It is CRITICAL that the information in the MLS is accurate. Otherwise, Realtors and Buyers are unable to find the home. As it turns out, this home was not listed on the proper map coordinates and no neighborhood name was listed for the home. These are the two fields that allow Realtors and Buyers to find the home based upon location. Without these two fields being accurate, it is almost impossible for this home to found in the MLS or on the internet.
In addition, this home had been listed for 3 weeks for sale, but there were no pictures or virtual tours for the home on the internet. Homes without pictures on Realtor.com (the leading web-site where Buyers view homes) receive 50% less views than homes with multiple pictures. Homes without virtual tours receive 80% less views than homes with virtual tours. Not having multiple photos online and a virtual tour create an almost impossible hurdle to leap when marketing a home. Many Realtors I know won’t even show a property without photos. It is generally assumed that if a home does not have any photos is must be in terrible shape. So unless a Buyer wants a fixer-upper, it is a waste of time to generally show these homes.
At my firm, The Kentwood Company, we subscribe as a group to “enhanced listings” in Realtor.com. That way, we all can market our listings with virtual tours and lots of interior photos. It also allows us to lengthen the descriptive copy, highlight in yellow and move our listing up toward the top of any buyer search on Realtor.com. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Realtor.com is the best search for buyers. I don’t. I much prefer searches that are easier to use and don’t require registration, at least at first. We have one of the MLS searches here one of those excellent platforms here on this web site. But, the fact remains that more buyers use Realtor.com than any other search so we have to optimize for it.
The lack of accurate information and the lack of photos and virtual tours create a severe barrier to having this home shown to Buyers, but it gets even worse. I did take my Buyers to go view this home, which was vacant. When a home is vacant, a home must show perfectly. Without furniture, flaws become the focus of attention for the Buyers when they walk through the home. Paint blemishes, wood floor scratches and carpet stains are big no-no’s in a vacant home. This home had all three. By not spending the relatively minor amount of money to clean the carpets, touch up the paint and screen the wood floors, the Seller created another barrier that is tough for Buyers to overcome in this market.
After 3 weeks, photos were finally posted for this home in the MLS and on the internet. Having photos is important, as I mentioned above, but having the RIGHT photos is also important. This home had spectacular mountain views from the back of the home, but there was not one photo online of these views. Pictures are worth a thousand words, especially when the general public does not usually believe the descriptions for a property. But pictures do not lie, so having great pictures is critical.
When you hire a Realtor, make sure they have a written marketing plan that details all the Realtor will do to market your home to Buyers and other Realtors. Then hold the Realtor accountable to that plan. I provide my marketing plan to my Sellers at our initial meeting. I also provide access to a secured web-site that allows Sellers to view the tasks completed on the marketing plan for their home anytime day or night. A great marketing plan is critical in today’s environment. If you would like a copy of my marketing plan, contact me today and I will be happy to send you one.