The Listing Agent - Preliminary Marketing of Your House
The "Real" Role of a Listing Agent
When you bought your house, you probably used the services of a real estate agent. You found that agent through a referral from a friend or family member, or through some sort of advertising or marketing. The agent helped you in many ways and eventually you found the house of your dreams, made an offer, closed the deal, and moved in.
For whatever reason, now it is time to sell your home and you need a real estate agent again. Many real estate sellers, especially those selling their first house, tend to think all agents are similar to the one that helped them buy their house.
Although real estate agents can (and do) work with both buyers and sellers, most tend to concentrate more on one than the other. They specialize. When you bought your house, you probably worked with a "selling agent" – an agent that works mostly with buyers. Because of the nature of real estate advertising and marketing, the public’s main image of the real estate profession is that of the selling agent.
As a result, many homeowners expect their listing agent to do the same things that a selling agent does – find someone to buy their house. After all, they do the things you would expect if they were searching for buyers. A sign goes up in the front yard. Ads are placed, your house is proudly displayed on the Internet.
But this is only "surface" marketing. More important activity occurs behind the scenes. After the "for sale" sign goes up and flyers are printed, your agent’s main job is to market your Greenville house to other agents, not to homebuyers.
The "For Sale" Sign
It seems fairly obvious that when you put your Greenville house up for sale that your Lee Cunningham Team of REMAX agent will put a "for sale" sign in the front yard. The sign will identify the agent’s company, the REMAX agent, and have a phone number so prospective buyers can call and get information.
Signs are great at generating phone calls, even if very few actually purchase the home they call about. However, you might be one of the lucky ones. For that reason, you should determine what happens when someone calls the number on the sign. Does a live person answer the phone or does the call go to a voicemail, recorder, or 24-hour information line?
You want the caller to be able to get information on the house while the caller is "hot." When buyers call the number on the sign, the call should go to a live person or a 24-hour information line which can answer a lot of the callers questions immediately. A potential buyer may be on the street outside your house, placing the call using a cell phone.
Flyers and a Brochure Box in Greenville
Your Lee Cunningham Team of REMAX agent will prepare a flyer that displays a photo and provides details about your house. There should also be a phone number so buyers can contact The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent to get additional information. The flyers should be displayed in a prominent location in your house and also in a brochure box attached to the "for sale" sign.
The brochure box is convenient for those home buyers who drive by and just happen to see the "for sale" sign in front of your house. It provides enough information so they can determine if they want to follow up with a phone call or inform their own agent they are interested in your house.
The Listing Agent - Marketing Your Home to Other Agents
The Greenville Multiple Listing Service
Even before the sign is up and the brochures are ready, The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent should list your property with the Greenville MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The Greenville MLS is a database of all the homes listed by Greenville’s real estate agents who are members of the service, which is practically all of the Greenville agents.
Important information about your property is listed here, from general data such as square footage and number of rooms, to such details as whether you have central air conditioning or hard wood flooring. There should also be a photo, and a short verbal description of what makes your house "special."
The Cunningham Team of REMAX Agents search the database for homes that fit the price range and needs of their clients. They pay special attention to Greenville homes that have been recently placed on the market, which is one reason you get a lot of attention when your house is first listed. Many agents will want to preview the home before they show it to their clients.
The main point about having your house listed in the Greenville MLS is that you expand your sales force by the number of Greenville’s MLS members. Instead of having just one agent working for you, now you may have hundreds or more, depending on the size of your community.
The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent’s main job to make sure that the other Greenville MLS members know about your house. This is accomplished through listing your house in the Greenville Multiple Listing Service, previews and advertising targeted toward other agents, not homebuyers.
The Purpose of Advertising in General
Every home seller likes to be assured that The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent or the REMAX Realty Professional real estate company will run ads featuring their home. Newspaper ads could be large display ads with lots of listings or small classified ads featuring just your property. Ads may also appear in Greenville’s real estate magazines and your listing will also show up on the Internet.
Of course agents and companies will run ads featuring your house, but not for the reasons you expect.
You see, the main job of advertising is not to sell your house directly. Advertising creates phone calls and some of those callers become clients of the agents answering the calls. This builds up a pool of homebuyers looking for property in general, all represented by selling agents. Multiply this by all the agents and companies who also advertise homes, and there is a large pool of homebuyers in the market at any given time – all of whom are represented by selling agents.
The agents representing those homebuyers know about your home because it is listed in the Greenville Multiple Listing Service and on the internet.
The agents match up their clients with available homes, one of which may be yours. Then they show the homes to their clients, who eventually make an offer on one. That is how your house gets sold. Ads create a pool of clients, one of which buys your home. Ads do not usually sell your house directly.
Individual Real Estate Agent Advertising
Individual agents may advertise your home for the same reasons as companies do. They usually advertise in classified ads or in Greenville magazines featuring houses available for sale.
As in other types of advertising, these ads rarely sell your home. Once again, the main goals of advertising are to accumulate homebuyers as clients, and to impress you and future home sellers with how well they market their listings. Some REMAX agents actually do sell their own listings, but not that often.
It is much more productive and beneficial if your REMAX listing agent directs most of his or her marketing efforts toward other agents. Since this is "behind the scenes" marketing that you don’t actually see, it is often difficult for you to measure how hard The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent is working for you.
It is a mistake to measure The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent’s effectiveness solely by counting the number of Greenville newspaper and magazine ads featuring your property.
Open Houses in Greenville
An open house performs a similar function to neighborhood announcements – it lets all of your neighbors know that your house is for sale, and it practically invites them to come "take a look." Being generally nosy, a lot of your neighbors will take advantage of the invitation. And they may tell their friends about your house, creating more "word of mouth" advertising.
Of course, there are other reasons for holding open houses, too. Listing agents who "farm" a particular neighborhood use them as an opportunity to meet with other Greenville homeowners who will someday be selling their home. Your agent may hope to list their homes in the future.
Open houses held after your home has been on the market awhile do not usually serve a useful purpose in selling your home. Most of the neighbors already know your house is for sale and open house visitors rarely buy the homes they visit.
However, if you really want more open houses, your listing agent may allow other agents to hold it open. Open houses attract prospective homebuyers and agents hope to convince some of those homebuyers to become their clients.
Showing the House to Potential Home Buyers
Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let The Cunningham Team of REMAX agent put a lock box in a convenient place, to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.
Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your Greenville home.
Why You Should Not Be Home
Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of the way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.
When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.
Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.
If you have pets, make sure your Lee Cunningham Team of REMAX agent puts a notice with your listing in the Greenville multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.
The Kitchen Trash
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.
Keeping the House Tidy and Neat
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a house in Greenville it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home – a house with furniture but nobody really lives there.
NEXT: More specific information on closing your listing is in our Buyer Information section.