You may have heard last week that Zillow and Trulia are merging. If you’ve ever searched for a home online, you’re more than likely to have ended up on at least one of these “listing aggregator” websites. Between them, they accrued 137 million unique visitors in June, a majority of the traffic in the property search category. By combining their resources and industry expertise, they’ll have even more influence over that traffic in the future. There’s no denying that Zillow and Trulia are useful tools when searching for a home, but how do you put them to work for you when you need to sell a home? How do you know that buyers searching online will find your home and save it on their favorites tab? It all comes back to your agent, and the approach that he or she takes towards online marketing. When interviewing an agent, here’s 5 things to ask about their online marketing plan to ensure a successful sale
What resources do you have for staging my home?
Staging is the necessary prerequisite for great photos, and photos can make or break your home’s online marketing. Staging is a broad term, however, and will take different forms depending on what the home needs. For instance, a vacant house might need a staging service with furniture inventory that can be temporarily arranged in the home to give it that inviting, welcoming feel to potential buyers. On the other hand, if the home is still being lived in, a professional stager can give you advice on reorganizing to maximize space, rearranging furniture, swapping out old fixtures and painting with new colors that will show your home in the best light possible. A great listing agent will have both of these types of resources available depending on your circumstance.
What kind of photos will you take of my home?
When it comes to marketing your home, insist on professional photography. If the agent’s job is to facilitate the sale of your home at the highest price possible and in the quickest time frame (hint: it is), then they should be ready and willing to have professional photos taken of your home. If they’re going to snap some photos with the camera on their phone and throw them online, then it’s time to search for a new agent. Yes, it can be costly, but the agent’s commission is intended to cover the cost of marketing. As an added bonus, if the agent offers floor plan virtual tours as part of his or her standard marketing, it can go a long way towards helping buyers experience the home online and will come in handy for the appraiser once the home is under contract.
Where will I see my home listed online?
Your agent should be up front with you about where you’ll home will be listed online so there are no surprises during the listing period. Reputable agents will be members of the local real estate agent association and should have access to the local multiple listing service (MLS) where they will enter your information for other agents to see and send to their buyers. Listings entered into the MLS can then be found on many other websites that pull data, including photos, from the MLS. That’s why you’ll find your listing on Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and many other websites with an agent with access to the MLS in most jurisdictions. Although many agents will get your listing on the big sites, not every agent pays to give their listing premium exposure on the large real estate search sites listed above. An agent who’s made that investment is helping your listing get to the top of search results for more face time with buyers.
How will you know how well my listing is performing online?
The way that an agent answers this question is very important, especially if the home doesn’t sell as quickly as you first expected. All of the big websites provide agents who sign up for an account with data about how their listings are trending. If your agent has put your listing on Zillow.com, Trulia.com and Realtor.com, and has signed up for this data, they’ll be able to take the information given to them by these sites and see how many impressions your listing is getting per week, how many searchers are clicking on the listing per week, and how those numbers change in response to a change in marketing. Small tweaks, such as a change in the main photo or a change to the description, can make a big difference in the number of buyers clicking on your listing to see more details. When the home isn’t selling as fast as others in the neighborhood, these stats will help your agent determine the types of changes that need to be made to the listing, either through price reductions or marketing tweaks, to increase interest and click-throughs. Without these stats, your agent will have a tougher time pinpointing the changes that need to be made to get your house sold.
How will you collect feedback from other agents about my house?
Like statistics on impressions and click-throughs, feedback from other agents who’ve shown the property is essential information. This feedback helps an agent determine how well the house is priced and how it shows in comparison to other homes. A savvy listing agent will have buyer agents schedule showings through a showing service so that the time and date of every visit is cataloged for easier follow up afterwards. Showing services will usually include the option to send auto emails to buyer agents after a showing to request feedback. However, if that doesn’t get a response, the listing agent has all of the buyer agents contact info through the showing service for personal follow-up. It’s an efficient and effective system for listing agents to collect feedback for their sellers. An agent who doesn’t use this service is going to spend a lot more time tracking and cataloging responses and may or may not have a record of every showing.
An agent who can correctly answer these 5 tough questions about online marketing has made a significant investment into your home’s sale. It’s what I provide to every one of my listing clients, along with a team approach and a commitment to excellent service and consulting.