Dear house sellers. In my last two blog posts I have introduced you to the first 2 of my 3 magic words in house sales. Number 1 was Presentation (click here if you missed it) and number 2 was Price (click here to read that post). Now it’s time to introduce you to the final magic word.
Be warned – in order to sell your house successfully (and that means to achieve what you want to achieve out of the sale, whether that’s top price, to sell quickly, or any particular point along that sliding scale) you need to make friends with all three of these fellas. Neglecting just one of them could mean your house continues to sit on the market with no interest for many more months to come. But being BFFs with all of them means there no reason within your control that your house won’t sell straight away for close to the asking price.
This is all about marketing. You could have the most amazing house in the world, priced ridiculously low, but if no-one knows about it you still won’t get a sale. And if the marketing methods used to let people know about the house aren’t that hot, then people will get the wrong impression and again, they won’t buy.
In my opinion, the successful promotion of a house means it should be treated in the same way as any other product for sale; with a great deal of thought, care, attention and effort. And really when you think about the relative value of a house compared with for example a luxury car at just a fraction of the cost, and the amount of effort that goes into selling those luxury cars (a lot! You’ve seen the TV ads right?!), we really don’t put that much thought or effort into promoting the average house for sale.
My favourite phrase to do with sales and marketing is “Do the hard stuff that makes the selling easy.” (Thanks Nigel Botterill and The EC!) A lot of this is stuff that has to be actually carried out by your estate agent, but that means it’s up to you to choose someone who can do the best job for you and knowing what great promotion looks like will definitely help you find someone who can provide that level of quality service. Choosing an estate agent is a whole other topic, but here’s a list of principles to guide how your promotion should be put together:
1: Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Look at everything how they would, and be honest with yourself. Are you showing them the right things in the right way? This applies to everything – the house itself, each of the photos, how the house and its features are described in the listing, the way each buyer enquiry is dealt with, how you conduct viewings, everything. ALL of these things have to be right, otherwise you’re jeopardising your sales potential.
2: Make everything as easy as possible for potential buyers. Give them everything they might want to know about the house, without making them search for it. Remember that on the internet, every time you make a person click to get further along, you increase the chance of losing them, so keep an eye on how many click obstacles you’re putting in their way. Don’t make them have to look for key information, and certainly don’t hold things back like floorplans or additional photos to be sent when they phone or email an enquiry. They probably won’t – they’ll just move on and get excited over some other house whose listing does show them everything they want to know.
3: Stand out from the crowd. While your house itself wants to be presented so it can be appealing to as many buyers as possible, your marketing wants to grab their attention so it’s best if it doesn’t look exactly like all the rest. Things like choosing a lifestyle shot for your main photo instead of the standard exterior shot might give you an edge, or going to town with the advertising outside your house to draw drive-by attention.
4: Use professional photography. I just can’t understand why so many sellers are content to have totally sub-standard photos advertising what has to be their biggest asset. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great estate agency photographers out there, but the fact is most estate agents are NOT professional photographers. Therefore, they cannot provide you with the best quality photos with which to market your house. And surely you want the best? Professional photography can cost as little as £100, and when you’re talking about selling something that’s worth at least 1,000 times that, surely it’s worth the investment? Plus you’ll have a great-looking reminder of your old home. If you need any more persuading, just take a look at my Facebook gallery of Shocking Shots – these photos have ALL been found advertising actual houses for sale on Rightmove. Seriously – why risk shots like this?!
5: Change it up and watch your results. If you’re not getting much interest, then it’s time to change something and monitor the results. Simple things like changing your main photo or the front page introduction can make a big difference to interest levels. Your agent has access to a set of figures from Rightmove each week, so it’s easy for them to track the effects of any changes yet most of them probably don’t even make sellers aware that these figures even exist. The key ones to know are:
- Summary Views (the number of times your house has appeared in search results)
- Detail Views From Summary (the number of times your house was clicked on from the search results)
- Click-Through Rate (the percentage of people who clicked into your listing, found by dividing Detail Views by Summary Views. National average is around 6%)
Get your agent to make any changes just after the weekly performance figures have been received, and then when the next set comes out a week later, you’ll see how much interest you’ve gained by changing things. If there’s no improvement, rinse and repeat. Seriously – when interest is low, I think that changes should be made to listings at least every month.
I do appreciate that Promotion, the last of my magic 3 words in house selling, is the hardest one for sellers to be in control of, because much of it depends on the actions of another. But the one thing that is in the seller’s control is the choice of that agent – before you choose one and sign a contract, have these sorts of conversations with the agent and if they look at you blankly when you mention Detail Views or professional photography, I’d suggest you take your business elsewhere. Watch out for any lengthy exclusivity clauses in the contract, and make sure you won’t have to pay them to get out of the contract. If there’s anything you’re not comfortable with in the contract, don’t sign it. There are plenty of agents out there so don’t whatever you do settle for one that’s stuck in the dark ages or has only their own interests at heart. Choosing an agent is a whole new topic so I’ll try to tackle that soon!
I hope this little series has helped you to understand the things that are affecting the success of your house sale.
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