When I first started my real estate career in the Conejo Valley (Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park) in 1999, things were much different. The internet was less than 10 years old and everyone was trying to figure out what effect it would have on the real estate agent and transaction.
Realtor.com was in its infancy, Zillow didn’t exist and the industry was transitioning from listings in paper books to listings online.
Digital cameras were “new” and considered a luxury item. Agents websites all looked the same with a bunch of canned info. Google was only a year old and there was no such thing as buyers searching for homes online.
It was common for a listing to have 1 picture of the exterior of the house and no interior shots. Can you imagine that today? And if the agent didn’t take a picture, someone from the local MLS would go take one.
We had flip phones strapped to our belts to make our calls – no color screen, no camera, no data, no apps, no texting, no internet. How did we survive?!
The entire transaction was slower and required a lot more leg work.
Fast forward to today. Buyers can view everything on their phone through multiple portals and websites. The MLS allows up to 99 pictures of a home and a decent agent hires a professional photographer. 3D Tours let you fly through the house using your mouse. Drone photography gives you a bird’s eye perspective from above. Google Maps lets you check out the street view. Neighborhood video tours give a sense of the surroundings and amenities.
The wealth of information available to homebuyers online is astounding – school data, demographics, neighborhood info, walkability scores, sales data, the homeowner’s cost basis and tons more.
Today’s homebuyers are much better informed by the time they get to your front door than ever before.
Offline vs. Online Activity
Fifteen years ago, in order to get a sense of the home, buyers had to physically go see it. That meant a lot more showings. You may have had multiple daily showings and it could have easily taken 25+ showings to find a buyer. Today, homebuyers are shopping on their phones and ruling out potential homes based on how it looks online. As a result, you’ll have fewer showings, but those buyers are more likely to make an offer. If the last time you sold a home was in the 90s or you’ve never sold a home before, this may surprise you when you go to sell.
When you’re evaluating the interest in your home, you need to consider your online activity in addition to your offline activity. How many views and saves have you had on Zillow and the other portals? What does your home’s online competition look like? Has your agent properly tweaked and added content to the portals like Zillow and Realtor.com? Do you have a dedicated website and URL for your home (ex 123mainstreet.com)? How do your pictures look on a smartphone? These are key factors you need to take into account.
Online Marketing is the Key to a Successful Sale
When you are interviewing agents to represent you to sell your home, you need to find an excellent online marketer.
Most real estate agents are trained prospectors not marketers.
Most real estate training focuses on prospecting for new clients, not marketing a home to sell. Prospecting is cold calling and door knocking to find buyers and sellers. Marketing is attracting others to contact you. Marketing is a completely different skillset that has to be learned outside the brokerage. Most agents aren’t great marketers because it involves technology (which scares many agents) and it can take a lot of time & money to become skilled.
When you’re ready to list your home, you’ll want to find a marketing expert who works in your area. Interview a few agents. Check them out online prior to scheduling an appointment. Get a sense of how they will market your home based on how they market themselves. When you meet, they should have a detailed marketing plan with samples of marketing they’ve used to sell other homes. I find the Ipad to be the best way to show sellers exactly how their home will look on a screen.
We know where the buyers are – they’re on their phones and laptops. Homes are sold based on emotion and that emotional connection starts online. How your home shows on a screen not only affects the number of live showings you’ll have, it affects the amount of money you will net.
Your home is likely your largest asset. Choose wisely and make sure you hire a marketing expert to sell your home.