By Broderick Perkins
Internet services help level the playing field for home sellers looking for advertising outlets, but they work best when they are interwoven into a marketing plan that includes tried-and-true "low-tech" advertising staples.
"The yard sale sign is still the number one lead generator. The reason is that shopping for real estate is a local effort. People get in their cars and drive the neighborhoods," says Blanche Evans, Dallas-based author of "homesurfing.net: The Insiders Guide to Buying and Selling Your Home Using the Internet" (Dearborn, $17.95).
Along with the for-sale sign in the front yard, window or other location that's easily visible from the street, you'll need several or more "A-boards" or directional signs that point the way when you hold an open house. Place one on each of the two corners nearest your home, and one or two (if traffic moves both ways) at a major intersection nearest your home. Don't place signs more than a third to a half mile away. At that distance you are in a different neighborhood, says George Devine, San Francisco broker and author of "For Sale By Owner In California" (Nolo.com, $24.95)
Attach a brochure/flyer holder to the for sale sign in your front yard. The brochure should include all the pertinent information about your home, including the price, age, square footage, number of rooms, special features, perhaps some school or community information and a color photo.
"The signs and flyers set the tone for interaction with your buyers. Include your Internet listing address, your home's own Web page address or both. By giving them another place to look for information you are not going to eliminate buyers who'd like more information first," said Evans.
Your home's Internet listing gives you the opportunity to provide more photos and information to take advantage of the special Web-based features to help buyers find and access your home and neighborhood information.
Don't overlook electronic advertising that includes your area's Multiple Listing Service, real estate agents' primary marketing tool. "Some areas have MLS systems that aren't real estate board owned," said Bonnie Sparks, a Davenport, Iowa-based broker and author of "If You're Clueless About Selling Your House," (Dearborn, $15.95).
Even if the MLS is board owned, discount brokers or fee-for-services agents will let you buy the listing service.
Just as you don't have to limit your electronic marketing efforts to the Internet, you can place classified ads in numerous locations -- on and off the Net.
Buyers look at daily newspapers, of course, but also direct mail marketing and weekly tabloids, church, social group and community publications, supermarket and retailers' hand outs, service industry newsletters, women and consumer group newsletters and a host of other publications.
"You can pay a small fee or get classifieds for free on the Internet. You have to throw out a big advertising net. Realtors market worldwide and you can too if you know where to post your listing," Evans said.
Generally, your classified ad should avoid cutesy or esoteric phasing, but it should include the fact that your home is for sale by owner, a price, the number and types of rooms, special amenities, financing facts, if any, dates and times of open house, a phone number for appointments and, briefly, why it's a good buy.
"Rather than selling the bricks and mortar, sell the experience of living in your home. The baby boomer is into freedom and new experiences and doing things differently, so you want to have that in the lead in if your home is appropriate for baby boomers. Maybe someone is looking for easy access to things, airlines, art galleries and that kind of thing," said Sparks.
Broderick Perkins, has been a consumer journalist for 20 years. Experienced in print, electronic, and consulting journalism, he is chief executive editor of San Jose, CA-based, DeadlineNews.Com, an editorial content and consulting firm.
© Copyright 2000 by Broderick Perkins. All Rights Reserved.