By Robert Irwin
If you want to sell something, you have to come up with a marketing plan. Even if it's just lemonade, you still need a stand and a sign to attract customers.
Selling real estate is no exception. The professionals in the field know this well. Every good agent has a marketing plan. It typically includes listing the property on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) so that other brokers can help sell it, generating interest in the property by "talking it up" at sales meetings, placing advertising in the newspaper, and planting a bold sign in front.
Make a Plan
If you're selling by owner, to be successful you likewise need a plan. And many owner/sellers mimic the marketing that agents use. For example, they put a big sign in front. And they place at least small ads in the local newspaper.
However, after that, the marketing plans of owners tend to fall flat. Without paying a commission, what good would putting your home on the MLS (even if you could) do you? And who are you, as an owner, going to talk your place up to? It's hard to stir up interest in your home when you only have you to work with.
Yes, you can create flyers and post them on your sign, on bulletin boards and in housing offices of companies. All good ideas. But, how do you generate the interest that agents can get?
Plan Your Online "Curb Appeal"
One excellent way is to utilize the Internet. Well over half the families in the United States now have access to the Internet and use it regularly. In your city chances are there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of home buyers who check the Internet regularly. Wouldn't it be wonderful to tap into this ready-made market?
You can, if you have a marketing plan. The first step is to list your property on one of the many FSBO sites, such as Owners.com
. Typically the sites make it easy. They let you give a detailed description of your home's features, include images, and sometimes provide an answering service, buyer's mortgage referral, and much more.
A person trolling the Internet may just spot your home, find it interesting, and give you a call. Then it's up to you to show and sell it.
Cover All Your Bases
However, a good "by owner" marketing plan involves more than just leaving it to chance that someone will happen upon your Internet listed property. It involves driving buyers to your site. It combines both features the Internet offers, and the groundwork you can do.
For example, instead of listing your phone number on your sign, your flyer, and your ad, why not also (or instead) list your home's Internet address? If you had a listing on Owners.com, you could advertise www.Owners.com/AMT1234.
This has many advantages. It allows potential buyers to quickly learn all about your home (including photos). It lets them learn where it's located, the school district it's in, how close to shopping it may be, the neighborhood and on and on. They can even learn what comparables
have recently sold for. They are primed for your house by the time they call.
In short by driving potential buyers to your site, you help make up for that synergy that agents get when they work together. Use the Internet to give yourself a marketing edge.
It's important to understand that you need a "clicks and mortar" approach. You need to make a visible target of your property on the Internet. But, you also need to physically get out there and advertise, put up signs, flyers and so on, to drive those buyers to your site.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column for Owners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.