Are you a FSBO, aka for-sale-by-owner, aka for sale by owner? Or are you planning to list your home for sale with an agent? In either event, in order to sell your home for the highest possible price in a reasonable period of time, you must have a good advertising plan. If you don’t, you could get stuck with your house on the market for a long, long time, or you could sell it for much less than you should get at FMV (fair market value), or both.
This is the 3rd installment in our series entitled, “How to Advertise a Home for Sale. ” Today we look at Using the Internet to Sell Your Home. The Internet is unquestionably the most powerful tool for buying and selling real estate today. Traditional advertising has long since peaked and has been declining in effectiveness for at least a decade. Today, newsprint and magazines and billboards are three of the least effective means of advertising real estate. This does not mean these tactics should never be used. It does mean that they should be used sparingly, and rationally based on the return for the dollar spent.
For a long time now, the Internet has been used by real estate agents to post their listings in their local multiple listing service (MLS), and while that was originally only accessible by members of the MLS by subscription, it has become searchable by the public through what is called an IDX accessible database through the real estate agents’ websites. It doesn’t include all of the data available to agents, but at least it is a nice way for the public to plug in their parameters and be able to see what active listings are available. The Internet also has become a powerful tool to advertise listings on agent websites and blogs, as well as numerous subscription and online classifieds. Most agents (about 98% of them in my speculation) still are not in tune with this technology and are not using it to benefit their clients.
FSBO’s have many for-sale-by-owner online services to promote their own homes for sale. While this is a move in the right direction, and using the Internet to sell real estate makes eminent sense in this technology age, FSBO sites are still many years behind the curve ball. Most are not optimized, simply because the owners don’t understand SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is beyond the scope of this article, and frankly I cannot educate my competition, even if we did want to write a book here. But let’s face it, no one wants to read a book, just a quick post. The National Association of Realtors did an extensive national survey and learned that about 80% of all home buyers start their search for their next home on the Internet. That is very revealing. So what do you do with that information? Advertise in the newspaper every day of the week? Spend thousands of dollars on billboards? Budget $1,200 per month on a two page spread in Homes and Land magazine? I don’t think so. Realtors do all the time, right? Trust me, that doesn’t mean it works.
By the way, the traditional agent will argue what they are doing is proven. If they do not have a significant Internet presence (and very few do), they will tell you that the author of this article doesn’t have a clue. If you read enough of my material, you will re-read something I like to repeat. “No one will stay awake at night trying to figure out how to make you money or save you money, or sell your home for the highest price in the least amount of time, EXCEPT you.” That’s why I do so much writing. To freely educate so that good people can make wise choices.
Back to FSBO sites. Do they work? Sometimes a house sells on a FSBO site, so that owner will shout from the mountain top that their FSBO site works. But the majority of homes do not sell on FSBO sites. I have read from reliable literature many times over the past 5 to 7 years that approximately 85% of all FSBO’s end up listing with an agent. My 30 years in real estate would affirm that is probably not far off. May I also add a note here that most homes do not sell on the MLS either, at least not now. Why don’t FSBO online sites work well? First, a FSBO website is generally owned by a businessman who created a business model that he hopes will make him money by posting your home for sale for a flat fee, a percentage, or a combination of both. Such services are rarely owned by top producing Realtors, and sometimes they are owned by good people who never bought or sold real estate. They may no experirence is marketing and sales. Not exactly a warm fuzzy, is it? The FSBO companies are also rarely owned by good writers and technology experts, which means they typically fall far short of having great websites with persuasive scripting, outstanding graphics, good navigation, rich content, and powerful SEO.
But there is another reason why FSBO online sites are not so effective in selling homes. In fact, this may be the most significant reason. Buyers are NOT going to FSBO sites to search for homes. Oh, sure, once in a while they will, but guess where and how buyers are searching on the Internet? What do you do? Yes, they simply pull up Google or Yahoo or MSN and type in a phrase and hit search. The search engine results don’t always turn up the FSBO sites in a particular area. In my area, Sequim and Port Angeles, my sites come up far more often than the FSBO sites.
Buyers are not using portals on the Internet either to search for real estate. They are using search engines. They don’t go to franchise websites. They don’t use portals like Realtor.com, Trulia.com, or any of the dozens of others (except many do use Craigslist), and they don’t use the many web services that sell advertising positions (and zip codes) to naive real estate agents. Concusion. Traditional print advertising is no longer the effective tool it once was to sell real estate. While that is true, it has continued to get more expensive. Isn’t that interesting? It’s less effective but more expensive. Go figure. (Newspaper costs have increased like everything else.)
Still there are appropriate ways to use print advertising. The Internet is definitely the most effective tool all of us have today to advertise and to find real estate. But creating the Internet presence to do that is not for amateurs. It is a tremendous challenge to learn what is effective, what tactics should be used, how to balance the different advertising mediums, and how to implement all of the ingredients of good selling, which includes good scripts (language must be persuasive and concise), good graphics, good navigation, and rich content. Well, I’ve revealed far more to my competition than I should have in this educational article.
To all my Realtor colleagues in Sequim and Port Angeles who stumble upon this and read it, I hope this is helpful and enjoyable. To my readers and clients, and potential clients, I hope this information is beneficial to you in selling. If you need help, you know how to reach me.
Last Updated on January 15, 2009 by Chuck Marunde