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Bigger Ads Don’t Make Dumber Buyers

Being ‘in and around’ the real estate business for most of my adult life, I am still confused about the importance both sellers and real estate agents give to advertising.  Decades ago, advertising a home was important to attract a buyer because there was no other way for an individual real estate office to announce to the world that a house was now on the market.

But times have changed.  With the development of the Multiple Listing Systems (MLS), as soon as a listing is taken the entire agent population of that area or region is informed. Instantly! Every agent working every buyer is put on notice that a new opportunity to sell a home is here. In many cases, through new technologies, the buyers are directly informed of the new listing before the agent can even reach out to them. Buyers already in the market will know the home is up for sale immediately. No ad is required to do this.

You may ask – what about the buyer who is not yet actively engaging an agent in search of a home? Those future buyers are searching the internet months before they are ready to commit. In most areas, once a home is placed on the MLS system, the listing populates a plethora of real estate internet sites (the local MLS site, Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, every local company’s website) where a buyer can easily find it.

Why are no buyers looking at the house? I will argue that it is probably not because they are unaware of the listing. In 99% of the cases, it is about pricing. They know of it and for some reason have decided it is not worth seeing. The value was not there for them.

You may think there are just no buyers in the market for your type of home at the present time. Well, let’s take a step back and ask a question. Would someone buy it at $1? How about $100?  $1,000?  $10,000?  $100,00? Of course!! But, that proves my point. There is a price that buyers will pay for each and every home that is for sale today. You must decide if you are willing to take what the current value of your property is. That is entirely your decision.

Increasing Currency

But, let’s not believe the house hasn’t sold because it wasn’t advertised more aggressively. You could put it on the front page of your large, regional paper for the next 365 straight days. If it is not priced right, a buyer will not buy it.

Does that mean that you don’t need an agent to sell your home? Actually, I am saying the exact opposite. You need a well informed real estate professional who knows the proper price for your house and has the courage to tell you the truth. It was great to see that a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the number one benefit a seller wants from their agent is assistance in setting a competitive price. That truly is the most important thing an agent can deliver to a seller in this market.

Get a great agent. Price your home appropriately. And don’t believe that running more ads will create a group of buyers that don’t understand value!!

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6 replies
  1. Becky Brand
    Becky Brand says:

    Steve – once again you hit the nail on the head! For us there has been a major shift in listing presentations. Years ago we probably spent the majority of our time showing off what Shorewest could do for the sellers when it came to marketing their home. Now we spend that time educating the sellers about the market and where it is headed (thanks to you!) Print advertising very rarely comes up anymore in the conversation.

  2. Ed White
    Ed White says:

    Steve, I have to disagree with you here. I have made marketing my primary resourse for selling my properties. Especially to out of state buyers. I am not a Realtor and do not intend on being one. I am a private Broker and I gross probably 10 times more annually from 99% of all Realtors on NY without the use of the MLS. What this tells you is that marketing works. The MLS is a database that feeds telivised home shows and print adds but not all buyers are connected to buyers agents of even know of a Realtor. You need a healthy balance of both. When I hear a Realtor tell me that marketing is a waste of money, I know they dont want to invest money in selling my property. Advertising budgets are factored into your commissions and if not spent should be given back to sellers.

    • Steve Harney
      Steve Harney says:

      Great points! If I suggested homes should never be marketed, I apologize. I realize that homes definitely should be exposed to potential buyers. However, let me ask you this: How much print advertising do you do? I believe that internet marketing is not only the future – but also the present!! In the fast majority of markets, the MLS populates many web sites.
      However, the post was really about proper pricing. You can put any of your listings on any web site available. If it is priced over what a buyer will pay, IT WILL NOT SELL!!

  3. Ed White
    Ed White says:

    Your words are words of wisdom handed down from decades ago and nothing new. I wish I had a dollar for every person who rewrites this script with his/her little twists and nicknames. With only 30 years in Real Estate, I managed to make millions without even using the MLS. You need to understand that there’s a difference between reaching the local community and reaching out of the area investors and each tool does something different. I chose to reach the farthest markets. Markets in Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United Kingdom, and so on and so on. These buyers are sight unseen buyers who rely on exposure that the MLS cannot cover. I put photographers in planes as seen on my site. I put my homes on television. I put ads in California and New Jersey. I go east coast to west coast. I make my money by marketing properly. The MLS is a small tool in a big business and should not be given the credit you are giving it.You might not be aware that there’s a whole other breed of Property Brokers out there that don’t participate in the MLS or the GRAR and we makes hundreds of thousands if not million each year. Why is it that we make so much and the average Realtor makes so little? It’s because you are training them to work with a limited resourse. If you put a house in the MLS and the same house on eBay, You’d get more hits on eBay than the MLS by far. This is just one example. If you market your Rochester home in let say, California, You’ll get more for your home from a prospective buyer there than here. Why? Because the dollar is stronger here than there. Where am I going with this? Well, the local home buyer isn’t gonna look for or find my home on 50 websites so I better make it as visible to my buyer. If you want to be more effective, do away witht he passcodes to the MLS and make it a public site. Then you won’t need 50 other sites. Right?

  4. Steve Harney
    Steve Harney says:

    I’m not sure we are disagreeing. The post was much more about pricing your home or property appropriately, not about marketing.

    I like what you have done with your web site. I like the way you visually represent your clients’ properties. I think you are dedicated to doing a great job in marketing said properties.

    However, if we are to talk about marketing, let me ask you a few questions?

    Can’t you place your aerial photos on your MLS site?
    Doesn’t your MLS feed Realtor.com, the most viewed real estate web site in the world?
    Doesn’t your MLS have a public site that doesn’t require passwords?
    Isn’t your local Realtor Association’s site the first site that comes up if you Google ‘Rochester Real Estate’ ?

    You must admit that there is a value to that. I understand you have taken a different course and have had success. I wish you nothing but continued success.

    Like you, I have been in the business for over 25 years. Like you, I have been blessed with tremendous success. I appreciate what you have done and are doing. But, in any business, there are many paths to success.

    All I was trying to communicate was that to sell ANYTHING, it must be priced at a number someone is willing to pay for it! I wasn’t tryng to say anything else.


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