Marketing Brings Buyers
By Kevin McDuffie and David Bediz for the Washington
Old and new strategies work best working
Real estate agents, and sellers themselves, often
wonder where they get the most bang for their
advertising buck when marketing a home. Traditional
postcards, print ads and flyers seem passé
and, since the advent of internet advertising,
are becoming less and less popular. Since so many
buyers begin their search online and are attracted
to the interactive nature of internet home browsing,
most agents and sellers understand the value of
a strong web presence. But the internet is saturated
with information, and newspapers are still out
there, so which strategy works best? The answer:
both, working together.
Our society has evolved to the point that the
internet is no longer just a work tool. We are
online at the office, at home, in the car, and
on the metro (if you can get a signal!). In fact,
we’re online just about everywhere. Some
of us are more online junkies than others, but
almost all buyers are internet savvy these days.
In fact, 90% of homebuyers now start their search
on the internet. It is a logical extension of
banking online, grocery shopping online, e-Baying,
Facebooking, etc., and the internet offers so
much more information about potential properties
than a static print advertisement can provide.
Buyers like the ability to view multiple photos
and detailed descriptions of properties, not to
mention previous sale data, tax records, mortgage
estimates and more. 80 percent of buyers say they
find online photos and descriptions useful in
the home search process.
The internet doesn’t just make for a pleasant
experience for buyers—it results in quicker,
higher sales too. A strong online presence results
in a potential buyer driving by houses that pique
their interest online, and if that home has strong
curb appeal a buyer is more likely to contact
an agent to see the inside. Nationally, 77% of
buyers drive by a home they saw online first and
60% go into a home they saw online first, according
to the 2009 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers
conducted by National Association of Realtors.
This all results in a much higher probability
they will actually purchase the home in the end.
Sellers and their agents also are able to take
advantage of another online advantage: trackability.
Realtor.com, WashingtonPost.com, Trulia, Zillow
and many other real-estate websites allow sellers
and agents to tailor their ads to get the most
possible site visits and use the tracking data
as additional feedback to guide their marketing
and pricing strategy.
But with all the features an online presence
offers both sellers and buyers, the Internet isn’t
the end all, be all. Let’s face it —
sometimes we all like to pick up a local paper
for a little break from all the tweets, pokes
and emails we endure all day long. When we have
time to read a real paper instead, we often pick
up the local publication to find out what is happening
in our backyard. We don’t just read for
news; we browse the ads to see which boutique
or restaurant is having an event or sale, which
concert is in town or which charity is having
an event. Further, most of us like to support
the local establishments in our neighborhood.
If you were thinking of moving to a new neighborhood,
wouldn’t you look at the local paper to
get a feel for the area? A specific local publication
has a very strong influence, and buyers will often
generate an overall impression of a neighborhood
or locality in part from the local publications
found in it.
As much as we would all like to deny it, postcards
are also very effective in real estate marketing.
True, 90% may be thrown in the garbage without
even a glance at the photos, and there is an environmental
impact to postcard mailing that must be respected.
But if a recipient is even contemplating a home
purchase, they will more than likely read the
entire card and will often show up at an open
house with the card in hand. As expensive as they
are, carefully managed postcard campaigns are
still an effective component of any marketing
Of course, the keystone of both traditional and
new media marketing success is good photography.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words,
and it’s true. If a home’s exterior
is not eye-catching in a picture, why would it
pique a buyer’s curiosity to actually visit,
much less to put in an offer? Sellers must make
sure their house looks sharp the day of the photo
shoot. If necessary, sellers should consider hiring
a staging consultant to ensure the inside looks
like a welcoming space for potential buyers. If
nothing else, the interior should be tidy and
clutter-free, and the exterior should have great
curb appeal, including washed windows and trimmed
and tended gardens and shrubs. Without a solid
foundation of attractive photography, both old
and new marketing strategies will suffer.
To properly market a home it is a two prong
approach: both the 24-hour online gallery and
traditional marketing methods like neighborhood
newspapers and postcards that catch someone’s
eye that’s in the market to buy. If you
want your home to sell, put both traditional and
new media and technology to work for you.