When in doubt- blame the market

by Dan Krell © 2010

In a recent conversation with a home owner, who withdrew his home from the market, I asked if we could talk about the possibility of re-listing the home. My intention was to discuss different aspects of the listing, such as; the price, the amount of buyer traffic, and the types of marketing. The usual respectful responses I have heard in the past include; “no thanks” or “sure, when are you available?” However, this owner’s sharp tongue and cryptic language seemed to put all the blame on the market.

Sure, it’s easy enough to just blame the market when your home doesn’t sell. Unlike the many home owners of the last few years, who were forced to make other plans when their homes did not sell, you are more likely aware of today’s general market conditions [than they were]. So listing your home without analyzing the data to plan and tailor your sale for your local market is just poor preparation on your part.

In today’s market, the primary sources of a non sale are either your agent and/or the listing price.

Did you know that many people do not interview more than one agent to list their home? According to the National Association of Realtors 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (Realtor.org) forty percent of home owners chose a real estate agent who was referred to them, while twenty-four percent hired someone with whom they worked in the past.

Let’s face it, your decision to sell your home hinges on information provided to you by your agent. Because much of the market data is interpreted, there is a chance that you can be misinformed (or even malinformed) by any one real estate agent; for this reason, (in today’s market) it is essential to interview at least three agents to get an accurate picture of the neighborhood market, pricing and marketing strategy.

Our natural inclination is to hire the agent who promises us the highest price and with the greatest exposure. However, many experts recommend that before you make your decision, you should talk to several past clients of the agent you intend to hire to get a true picture of their professional abilities. Additionally, a current trend of agent passivity has affected many sellers; many agents have discontinued advertising and dropped open houses from their repertoires. The reality is that you need to get the most accurate and candid picture of your ability to sell without the agent’s salesmanship to get the listing.

Pricing a home has become much more technical because of variance in market conditions, seasonal trends, and home differences- while also keeping in step with frequent changes in lending and appraisal practices. When considering pricing, it’s important to review and compare several agents’ data. Although the point of pricing your home properly is one of the most important items to consider when selling a home today, so much has been written and said about it recently that that I won’t belabor the point. However, consider that if your home is over-priced, home buyers may become alienated because the list price is not in their range of competing homes.

Selling and marketing real estate in today’s environment has moved away from the “sales-y” approach by the ego-centered real estate agent, and evolved into relying on truthful and honest information. However, for those who fail to recognize the weaknesses of their home sale- just blame the market.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of April 19, 2010. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell

What’s more effective, a marketing strategy or a marketing plan?

Successful home sales begin with a marketing strategy and plan.

by Dan Krell © 2010

Does your listing agent have a marketing plan or a marketing strategy? Ok, it was a trick question. Actually, your agent should have both! Long gone are the days of receiving ten offers a day after the sign goes in the ground. In order to get an edge over the competing neighborhood listings these days, successful listing agents need to have an understanding of planning and strategy concepts, as well as their application.

A marketing strategy is the process of positioning your home; in other words your agent researches and compares data from the neighborhood and your home, as well as comparison data from other homes in the neighborhood and extended market area. Comparisons are made between your home’s characteristics and style to the neighborhood to determine similarities and differences. Once the data is compiled and evaluated, trends begin to appear that brings your home to life; your home begins to have a personality of its own.

Your marketing strategy should also include price. Due to recent market fluctuations, price is a major concern for home sellers. Market instability can reveal erroneous data which may cause you to either set your price too high or too low. Nothing can ruin an effective marketing strategy more than over pricing your home, which can severely limit the number of home buyer viewings; while listing too low can result in selling for too little. Listing and sales price data reveal trends that will assist you in setting an initial list price (as well as subsequent price adjustments).

Once your home is on the market, your agent’s marketing strategy (or lack thereof) will determine how home buyers and real estate agents react when thinking of your home. You should be certain that the strategy is appropriate and inclusive because re-positioning your home can be very difficult; the image that is presented to buyers and agents will be impressed forever in their minds. Additionally, word gets around the area fairly quickly, so negative images are surely to be passed along to others who may not yet have seen your home (and ultimately may not because of the shared information).

The marketing plan can be considered a road map in the application of the marketing strategy. It goes without saying that everyone’s listing is on the internet these days, as well as most agents advertising in the local papers. But as any marketing major might tell you it’s not the ad itself, but what the ad says. So, having ads, placements, and flyers generally do not get the attention of home buyers on their own, rather it’s the strategy that is being expressed that grabs home buyers’ attention. Additional consideration should be given to where and when ads about your home will be placed.

The marketing plan should not stop at an internet and print advertisement. The plan should include when open houses should be held (including what to say to visitors), and other means of reaching out to home buyers (such as post cards and broker opens).

Although marketing strategies and plans are vastly different, they are related. The marketing strategy determines the positioning of your home; while the marketing plan is the map that is followed to help home buyers find your home. Without a strategy and plan, your home sale will have to rely on sheer luck.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 18, 2010. Using this this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell