10 Ways to Increase Traffic - How to Make Buyers / Agents Call

Making Buyers / Agents Increase Traffic to Your Home

Motivated Seller
••• © Big Stock Photo

A Realtor from Virginia writes, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it really make a sound? If a house is really nice but no one looks at it, does it really matter how nice it is? If we can't get agents in to preview, how will they ever know?"

In a buyer's market, it is twice as important to increase traffic over other types of markets. If you aren't getting enough showings because the exterior of your home looks like every other home in the neighborhood -- whether it's a single family home or a townhome / condo, it might not be price. It might be because there is an abundance of inventory on the market, and buyers have too much to choose from

TIP: You want your phone to ring with a request for a showing. Buyers will come as a result of your phone ringing. So don't concentrate on anything else but getting your phone to ring. Be focused on this single concept.

Here are 10 Ways to Increase Traffic

1) Make Your Home Easy to Show

At a minimum, your MLS listing should read "call first, lockbox." The "call first" is to let you know that a buyer or agent is coming over to show your home. If you request appointments, have hung a "by appointment only" sign on your sign post or ask that agents / buyers tour only during certain hours, agents will likely show another listing that isn't so restrictive.

Don't require that your own agent be present to show because your agent cannot possibly be available 24 hours a day and service all of her listings in person. If she has that much time on her hands, she's not a busy real estate agent.

2) Use a Lockbox

Lockboxes allow agents to show your home if you are not home. If you do not answer your phone, the agent should leave a message and go directly to show. If you live in a gated complex, put the lockbox on or near the outside gate with the gate code inside. If you don't want to include the gate code, some lockboxes contain provisions where each agent has to call to obtain a special code prior to opening the box.

But all lockboxes that are digital track an agent and deliver reports to the listing agent.

3) Offer a Competitive Buyer's Agent Commission

Check your listing agreement to determine if your listing agent is splitting the commission you are paying at least 50/50 with the buyer's agent. It's your money. You can direct how much of that fee goes to the buyer's agent. Or consider increasing the commission to pay the buyer's agent more than other buyer's agents receive in your area.

For example, in many markets, if the fee to the selling agent, is less than 2.5%, you might not get very many showings. It's not necessarily fee driven as to why agents might avoid showing a low commission sale as it is they may tend to discriminate against agents who do it. Some feel those discounters are problematic.

4) Increase Traffic Through Market Exposure

  • Think about your target audience. Bump up marketing. In some markets, direct mail might work well. If so, direct-mail postcards to all surrounding homes and to areas that attract buyers to your neighborhood. It doesn't work in all markets.
  • Advertise in local weekly newspapers, the throwaways that people flip through.
  • Advertise in several sections of your daily newspaper on the weekends. It's not enough to advertise solely under the neighborhood classification. Look at directories and photo galleries and make sure they are online as well at the paper.
  • Advertise online with Craig's List, Google,  Trulia, Zillow and other free online websites. Remember, MLS always pulls the most buyers.
  • If you have enough time to meet publication deadlines, consider home magazines. The problem with magazines is many homes might be sold by the time they hit the streets.
  • Have your agent pay for a professional video and put it on YouTube.

5) Cater Lunch for Broker's Tour and Offer Drawing

In Sacramento, where I work, it is common for listing agents to pick up the cost of a catered lunch. Instead of zipping through a home on tour, agents will generally linger in the home, noticing details a fast tour would miss. Offer a drawing for a free gift certificate or game tickets to buyer's agents who stop by on tour.

6) Host an Open House Extravaganza

Organize other sellers in your neighborhood to work together on advertising a neighborhood open house or ask your agent to blitz the area. Publicize the event everywhere.

  • Hire a sign waver, somebody to stand on a prominent street corner with an open house sign arrow and spin it, wave it toward your home. It might cost $20 an hour, but it gets attention.
  • Serve hot dogs and soft drinks.
  • Hire a clown to entertain children.
  • Buy brightly colored helium balloons and hang up streamers.

7) Bribe Buyers

Offer every home buyer who tours your home a free book or prize. Enter their name into a drawing for a weekend getaway or big sporting event. Do the drawing 30 to 60 days out. Advertise the incentive in the newspaper, online and in your listing.

8) Send Out E-Flyers

It's relatively easy and inexpensive to create an e-flyer. V-flyers is one online source that is free. Then e-mail this flyer to every person in your e-mail address book. Ask your agent to send e-flyers to every agent who works in your area and to those outside of your area who bring buyers to your city.

9) Make a Limited-Time Offer

Advertise a limited-time offer that buyers can snatch up if they act quickly. Everybody wants a deal, and buyers are more motivated if that offer is going to soon vanish. For example, offer to:

10) Co-Op Your Advertising

Check with real estate affiliates such as mortgage brokers, property inspectors, appraisers, insurance brokers -- anybody who stands to make money as a result of your sale. Ask if they would be willing to co-op advertising with you by helping to pay for some or all of your marketing by including their information in the efforts. Everybody needs to market, and real estate vendors might already have a pipeline to the buying public that you can tap.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.