By Blanche Evans
When you sign a listing agreement to have a REALTOR® represent your home for sale, the first thing that happens is that the agent will get the "bare bones" facts about your property. Anything you can provide, such as feature sheets, flyers or brochures from when you purchased the home, a floor plan, or measurements of your rooms will help.
Give your agents as many positives and negatives about your home as possible, so s/he can be better prepared to handle objections. Why did you buy the home? What haven't you liked about it? What would you change if you were going to remain?
Anything new that has been updated, added or repaired, let him/her know. This would include new appliances, shower pan repairs, remodeling, or cosmetic updates.
The critical first two weeks
Within 24 hours of signing a listing agreement with you, your agent is required to submit your listing to his/her local MLS. This is to give you the seller the greatest chance of selling your home during the first two weeks following a listing because this period is the most likely time for you to get contracts on your home.
During the first two weeks, a lot of things happen, and quickly. The agent will schedule the MLS tour, a tour in which other agents interested in homes in your area will view the home. This can happen as soon as a day or two after signing the listing agreement. An important hurdle for your agent and the marketing of your home, this is the time when your agent should receive feedback about your home. If the home is overpriced or unsellable in any way, s/he will hear about it. Be sure to ask your agent what the comments were made from your tour.
During this crucial two-week time, your agent will most likely add your home to the broker's block ad in the Sunday newspaper, or put a classified ad in the newspaper to announce an open house or home for sale, which will generate calls from unrepresented buyers. The agent will work to qualify the buyers in terms of their ability as well as motivation to buy the home.
S/he will take pictures of your home to upload to her Web site and to create a feature sheet which could be ready in time for the agent tour. The agent's site should have multiple pictures of your home for presentation and an extensive, detailed editorial to accompany them. Some agents have sophisticated Internet marketing skills and will provide information on such as a map, schools, crime statistics and more to let buyers know the community overview of where your home is located, as well as facts about the neighborhood, employers, and local services such as children's day care.
Internet savvy agents will also take advantage of the free listings sites on the Internet which can include home search sites, classified ad sites, and even some FSBO sites which accept agent listings. This can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week or more. Ask your agent for a list of the sites to which s/he will send your listing. The listing sites or the agent's personal Web site can also be featured in your flyers and newspaper ads to direct buyers to go to the Internet to learn more about your home.
S/he will also use this time to network with other agents from all over the area and across the country to sell your home, with personal phone calls, e-mails and faxes.
If you don't get any traffic or offers during the first two weeks it could mean something is seriously wrong. That is why your agent may actually delay in having you sign an agreement. If there are some repairs or painting that needs to be done, carpets that need to be cleaned, or clutter removed, you will need time to take care of those things.
Once the home is listed it is open to all the agents who have access to the MLS. You will most likely get calls from your agent about immediate showings. If the home isn't ready, you will get either no offers or very low offers.
Every home is different and each seller is unique. Your home will be marketed according to your special needs. Not only is price a consideration, so are your circumstances.
If you are in a hurry to sell because of a transfer or the purchase of another home, your agent may have to price your home more aggressively to attract a buyer quickly. In that case, seller urgency may be used as part of the marketing plan to obtain a rapid closing.
The open house
More and more agents are refusing to do open houses for several reasons. Open houses seldom result in a sale. They tend to attract buyers who are unrepresented by agents, and most of these buyers are unprepared to buy, which means they have not been qualified by a lender, don't know how much they want to spend, or even if they want a home in your neighborhood. Open houses also attract curiosity seekers who enjoy going through other people's homes. And, unfortunately, they can attract criminals who wait until the agent is busy to look through your medicine cabinet and drawers for prescription drugs, jewelry and collectibles they can pocket. For that reason, holding your home open can pose a liability.
On the other hand, open houses can also be a way to spread the word about y our home. Some brokers routinely put their agents open houses in the newspaper, and some are featured on the front page of the real estate section. Neighbors will gab to their friends and family that the house is "going to be open." Some clever agents band together with others who have homes for sale in the same neighborhood and stage a "tour." These are a lot of fun for consumers who can go from one house to another in the same area and compare homes all at the same time.
For a successful open house, make sure everything is sparkling clean and that closets are half full. Remove everything that is non-essential and pack it away or store it. Ask your agent about dressing up the home with props that may make it more appealing. Make sure those flowers are in the front garden. This is when first impressions really count.
You play a big role in the marketing success of your home
One of the first surprises a seller experiences is how much the agent may require in the way of assistance. A great deal of the marketing success of your home depends on you. For example, the way you prepare your home for sale has a direct bearing on how much a buyer will offer for the home. Homes in pristine, move-in condition always command higher prices than those which need "work." The rule of thumb is that the less the buyer has to do to move in, the better.
Since showings can take place at a moment's notice, you must also keep the home picked up. You have to have the home in "show" condition at all times - clothes off the floor, ashtrays cleaned out, dishes put away. Everything must be sparkling clean and fresh-smelling. A bad odor can kill a buyer's enthusiasm as quickly as peeling paint. So can cluttered closets, dirty windows, and unmade beds. Every morning, rally the household for a quick five-minute pick-up, so the home will look nice while you are at work or away.
Many people hire a REALTOR® because they know that the agent and broker bear the up front costs of advertising and marketing the home. But the presentation of the home is strictly the seller's job. Some expense must be expected whether it is painting the home inside and out, planting fresh flowers, or paying to have minor renovations done.
Work with your agent to determine which updates will net you the most return on your investment.
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© Copyright 2000 by Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.