House Marketing Mistakes and Bloopers

Avoid House Marketing Mistakes When Selling in a Slow Market

Fully Renovated House in Quebec, Canada
••• Anatoli Igolkin / Getty Images

When real estate markets cool down, inventory typically increases and the number of buyers decreases. Slowing market conditions make it more difficult to sell homes, yet some sales still take place.

Why do some homes get offers and others sit on the market? The answer has very little to do with the home itself, as many real estate agents might claim. More likely it lies within the poor quality of the marketing efforts. The following mistakes get repeated over and over by both sellers and agents. Don't let them happen to you.

Uploading Poorly-Taken Photographs Online

Pictures speak volumes and often get noticed before the written word. Since it's the first thing a potential buyer will see, why leave a bad first impression? The job of a photo is to entice the buyer to want to see more of the home in person. So that you don't give potential buyers a reason to cross the home off their list, avoid publishing photos like these:

  • Dark photos with the room's drapes or blinds closed
  • Photos turned sideways
  • Photos of cluttered rooms
  • Uncropped photos with unnecessary elements in the pictures
  • Photos that have pets sleeping on the sofa
  • Not uploading enough photos, or uploading only one unflattering photo of the front of the house
  • High-resolution photos that haven't been adjusted for effective viewing on the Internet

Withholding Important Information or Descriptive Comments

When there are tons of homes on the market, simply providing a property address and noting the number of bedrooms and baths is insufficient information for a home buyer. It says nothing about why a potential buyer should make an appointment to see the home. Good marketing tells a buyer why this particular home is better than the dozens of others on the market. To accomplish this, sellers should focus on:

  • What makes the home unique
  • The motivating factor that made the seller buy the home in the first place
  • How a perceived negative factor can be addressed to accentuate its positive attributes

Underestimating the Importance of Broker/Agent Previews

Just like buyers, agents don't have the time to look at every home on the market. So, think about what can you do to entice them to come to see yours. Agents are more likely to sell a house they have toured, so sellers can benefit from offering things that attract selling agents.

  • Provide catered lunches, beyond the ordinary sandwiches and bottled water. Be creative with culinary selections, because food motivates.
  • Offer drawings for small gifts or gift certificates.
  • Give online certificates that can be immediately e-mailed.

Restricting Access for Showings

If an agent can't easily show your home, she will show another agent's more readily-available listing instead. Don't give an agent a reason to pass up your home. Any of these issues can hamper showings:

  • No lockbox on the property
  • Restricted hours available for showing
  • Showings require 24-hour notice
  • Showings allowed by appointment only 

Offering Less Commission Than Other Listings

It's not that agents are greedy creatures who show only high-fee listings, which is against the law, although some are highly motivated by the prospective income. It's just that agents tend to view lower-commissioned listings as those in which the seller isn't very motivated to sell.

  • If the seller isn't motivated, an agent might assume the seller isn't willing to negotiate on price.
  • Especially in slow moving markets, buyers expect to negotiate.
  • Agents whose buyers want to negotiate will show only listings where negotiation is possible.

Not Including Buyer Incentives

Some multi-million-dollar listings offer sports cars as a home-buyer incentive, but it doesn't have to be anything that expensive. An incentive doesn't even need to cost the seller anything if the home price is structured to account for the incentive. Here are some typical incentives:

  • A certain dollar-amount credit toward the buyer's closing costs
  • A Home protection plan
  • Pre-paid homeowners' association fees for a year
  • A buy-down mortgage interest rate
  • Weekend getaway for two

Saying No to Print Advertising

You can't keep your home sale a secret and still expect to sell it. Whether you pay for advertising or your agent does, you need to let everyone know it's for sale. The best way to do that is to advertise:

  • Place an ad in the Sunday classifieds in your daily newspaper (if there is such a thing in your city)
  • List your home in Picture classifieds, if offered during the week
  • List your home in the local weekly or bi-weekly newspaper

Saying No to Virtual Tours

Buyers today begin their home searches online. There is no better way to initially view a new potential home than in the comfort of one's pajamas, in front of the computer, looking at a 360-degree or 3D tour. Some buyers won't even consider a property listing if it doesn't include a virtual tour. Basic requirements are:

  • A minimum of two spins and preferably more if space lends itself.
  • High resolution or HD photos that buyers can print themselves.
  • Ability to share photos so buyers can send the pictures to friends and family.