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Factors That Attract Buyers to Properties on the Market

January 29th, 2012

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about real estate marketing is talking to the actual buyers about what got them to come physically tour a home.

Our rental property in Snoqualmie, WA that we we put on the market towards the end of last month sold and is closing tomorrow. So this weekend I got to meet the buyers and quiz them about how they found our property and why they chose it over others on the market.

Turns out Mr and Mrs Buyer didn’t see Malia’s wonderful video that she shot for me. I asked Mr Buyer, “did you see our video” and he said, “…what video?” And, as far as I could tell they didn’t see either of the tours I had here and here. All they ever saw the property on the local brokers site which was syndicated from the MLS. I was disappointed!

There are number of marketing factors besides price and location that attract potential buyers:

  1. Effective physical signage: Use a rider sign with a tour/property site link and QR code.
  2. The flyers on the For Sale sign: Flyers and brochures should have a tour link and QR code.
  3. Local brokers sites listings: This almost always happens automatically. MLSs send all listings to brokers sites.
  4. National and regional sites: You can get listings here by syndicating from most tour sites.
  5. Tours/Property Sites: Great to have on flyers, for sale signs and sites where possible
  6. Search Engines: One way to get good exposure is to put something on YouTube.

Real estate photographers can help their clients work most all of these factors. What works and attracts attention is not the same every time. It’s a statistical process. Consistent good results results require using all of these all the time.

In our case the big factor for the fast sale is it was priced under the price curve (prices are falling in this neighborhood) and we included the furnishings with the home. The buyers liked the furnishings and since they were from the Eastern US it simplified and speeded up their moving in process. Just because the video and tours didn’t play a huge in this sale doesn’t mean they won’t next time. Oh and don’t forget that great marketing displayed in a neighborhood attracts more listing business for the listing agent in the future. Everyone in the neighborhood watches the real estate marketing going on so they know what listing agent to hire when they want to sell their home.

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24 Responses to “Factors That Attract Buyers to Properties on the Market”

  • Glad to hear your home sold!

    Another oddity in your neck of the woods (I believe….) is that your MLS does not allow tours, correct? That has a LOT to do with it, for sure!

    Our MLS out here allows virtual tours, video tours, etc. on the MLS as well as on all IDX sites, so tours are attached to every listing on every site – which offers a much greater opportunity for people to view the video tours right along with the MLS listing, wherever they choose to view it.

  • The NWMLS allows tours but it doesn’t pass on tour links to any sites that it feeds so the tour on the NWMLS links are only ever seen by agents… so the effective result is they might as well not have tour links.

  • We have it good in Canada, all the different MLS sites feed to one public one, http://realtor.ca….and that is where 99% of buyers go to search for a new place. All photos and tour links are fed over to realtor.ca overnight. Some MLS dont allow branding (toronto), but simply offering an unbranded version in addition to a branded one as part of your service solves that.

  • In the GTA I find that the QR codes are huge waste of time on the signs. Most people are not going to get out of their car to scan a code in nice weather, let alone on a cold winter day.

    They can simply type in the address on realtor.ca on any smartphone in a matter of seconds and get the info.

    I do see alot of agents starting to use the “text 12332” (for example) on their signs for people driving by to quickly have access to the listing info……a much better option than QR condes IMO.

  • Whatever the reason the house sold so quickly, you are very fortunate and I believe you are absolutely correct. All five items have a definite play in the sale of a home and you never know which one your will attract the buyer. Don’t forget the #6 marketing tool which is an actual drive by open house. Here in Arizona in the middle of tourist season, the drive by sign can catch the attention of a potential buyer driving through your neighborhood.

  • I am curious as to whether or not the buyers were influenced by the quality of the photography, and if they commented at all about how competing properties compared.

  • Price and location it’s like 90%. But all that marketing isn’t just to attract buyers! It’s also to attract sellers, promoting the agent, promoting the brand, to make the seller happy etc. Actually, most times, it’s about that. It’s like open houses, it’s not for selling a house (less then 1% of the properties are sold in an open house), it’s to promote other things.

  • @Suzanne- I think you are referring to what we call pointer arrows. They are not allowed by HOA in this neighborhood.

    @Patrick- No mention of quality of photos… my experience is that’s only something buyers are likely to talk about if the photos are bad. Also, when I talk to buyer’s I try not to lead the discussion too much and just let them say what they will.

  • It looks like you admitted it, but seemed to pass right over the two most important things that caused the house to sell, price and location. I know I won’t get lots of support from readers of this site on the following statement, but it is true. “Photos don’t sell the house.” Having said that, photos can hinder the sale of a house if not done well, so great photos are an important part of the campaign. I just watched this video on listing syndication which just gave me the nudge I needed to get me from one side of the issue to the other. http://www.geekestateblog.com/the-debate-about-syndicating-to-third-party-aggregation-sites/
    I now believe syndication isn’t the answer to better exposure. The property just needs a competent listing agent with an effective marketing campaign. This will include pricing it right and making the property look as good as it can in person and in the marketing photos. I’m only beginning to come around to video, but with great reservations.

  • Larry: The first comment to your blog was curious. If it it true that your local multi list does not allow video links, someone should get on someone’s case. Our MLS allows video links, although they must be unbranded, (an easy thing to set up) and my company REQUIRES a video link before approving a new listing’s insertion into the MLS. I was recently told by a call-in who became a customer that he would not look at any MLS insertion that did not have a video link.

  • @John- The local NWMLS allows tour links and the tourfactory.com tour I used had an introductory video… I have no idea what they would say about a YT video in their tour link but my guess they won’t allow it.

  • @Lee- I think many would agree that “Photos don’t sell the house.”, but it seems that you would agree in what we can all agree on is that good photos will attract more people to go see the house and bad photos will discourage people that might otherwise be interested.

    Another angle I’m trying to market to agents is that with good photos that present an accurate representation of the house, they are likely to spend less time taking people to houses as they do with bad photos. With bad photos, people might need the agents to take them to more houses because they can’t really judge the house from the photos. Unfortunately, agents often have the mindset that if I can just get them to the house, I can sell them on it.

  • @Shawn Clabough

    I agree 100% on “good photos will attract more people to go see the house”. With so many people looking online for photos and on realtor.ca in canada (or wherever), if you dont have quality photos up on the listing most will simply just skip right past it….moving on to other listings that do.

    Many sellers over the last year have told me they ditched their previous agent because he/she failed to provide more than 3-4 photos, and some cases even putting up just a front photo! They decided to list with the agent(s) I do photos/video for to get better exposure and “catch” a potential buyers attention.

  • Maybe it is just me, but I think that your agent dropped the ball if he did not point out the video to potential clients. Had they, maybe you would have gotten more than one offer and sold it for more. Who would not want to see a tour of the home they are interested in?

    As to the QR codes, they do not work on signage and have little affect if any on printed material. The big rush by agents to get them has died completely. They would rather use the space for impact and simply put “to see a video of this home, go to http://www.whatever.com“. A lot of my agents simply put “To view this home go to http://www.whatever.com“, they put it on their outside signs, and flyers.

    I am curious as to what the stats were for your tours and where they were looked at, although because you made up two tours, that might have affected the result.

    JM

  • I would rephrase the “photos don’t sell the house” statement. Photos might not sell the house but will certainly bring more contacts and buyers then if it has no photos or if they are bad and will eventually lead into more sales even from other houses.

    @Shawn I wouldn’t market agents in that way… that’s tricky. I WANT to talk as much as I can to my prospects. I do NOT want to spend LESS time to taking people to houses. I want to spend as much time as I can. I mean, that’s not how it works. If someone calls a good agent will known if it’s worth it to take the buyers to that specific house that they call for. Often I don’t take buyers to the house they choose because they want something else or because I’ve something better.
    What an agent want is to have more clients. That’s why I often “hide” some rooms or one major detail, to make people interested, to make them wish to known more, to make them want to visit. Sure you have to be accurate but you really shouldn’t just show everything while marketing the property.
    This means more clients more sales. Don’t ever say that to an agent that they are likely to spend less time with clients. They’ll miss understood. Just say that good photos will bring them much more buyers AND sellers and that will lead them into much more sales. You can also say that bad photos will make them look just that, bad.
    You have to show them the difference between bad and good. Most don’t understand nothing about photography. Shooting a house that they previously listed with their own photos would be great. That would show them that it really works.

  • Off Topic – Syndicating to national sites may become less important in the future. There is a lot of industry talk about these listing sites who sell leads back to agents. Here’s a video of one brokerage who has decided to no longer syndicate and their explanation of why. I don’t mean to steal this thread, but if you are interested in syndication, this video is worth watching. http://youtu.be/P4pZ0zJdfAY

  • @Pedro, I agree. I should have stated that I want their time to be more efficient and effective. Good agents do as you said and know which ones are worth their clients seeing, but we also know that there are many agents that aren’t so good and are looking to save as much as they can. These agents probably are a hard sell on using professional photos anyways and I wouldn’t take that approach with every agent, but only those that after everything else has been tried and I get a sense that they value their time and answer positively that they spend too much time showing houses that the buyer’s don’t like that I would introduce this thought in their heads.

  • Could someone explain to me why putting something on YouTube helps sell a home?

  • marketing is indeed a process of many types of advertising…but i do know pictures and videos are top just after price and location…there is no magic bullet, but one thing is for sure people start their search online 90% or greater today…so how are you in that search properly? excellent pcitures and virtual tours and where they are posted gets the exposure. Agent know that advertising one sale helps bring in sellers who want an active agent….this isn’t rocket science…pictures/videos do that…i believe having your pictures and videos be mobile friendly will be the future requirement. so many sites aren’t…having analytics available for your tours is excellent way to analyse the agents ROI dollars…that will tell you how many viewers are looking at your photos/tours not how many hits ( which can be done by search engines) if the views show from start to finish it is reasonable to assume it was a real person viewing

    @chris the vid is right and wrong…I see a self serving broker making rules that seems that he wants more dual sides and is not looking out for his seller…ethically it seems he is looking out for his wallet, which is incorrect but he uses a good point on accuracy…the sites need to reindex more frequently for more accurate info, that is all…he is correct as the zillow and trulia as well as REALTOR.com use MLS info to resell ads to other real estate professionals but the IDX rules are such that the listing broker must be indicated…Not the individual agent, which is self serving as well. however it is his business and his agents are free to leave that agency too. the syndication sites” use” the info but should pay for it as they do not own it. Same as us real estate photographers, we own the pictures…how or what would you do if someone used it because it was on a public site that the agent/broker has syndication with…is some one getting paid? Oh what strange bedfellows we in real estate have to put up with.

  • I used to do tour for every home I shot in the Seattle area. In 3 years time, I’ve almost stopped doing them completely for a few reasons:

    1. There is no consistent, effective distribution method for virtual tour websites or links. They aren’t linked from the MLS here and don’t show up on local RE websites so people don’t know how to find them.

    2. Tours don’t offer anything that the local RE sites already provide. Most Virtual Tours are just glorified slideshows. Real Estate companies have finally caught up and many now have much better interfaces than the Virtual Tour companies. Tour companies haven’t innovated to differentiate themselves from run-of-the-mill RE company websites. The value proposition is no longer there.

    3. Virtual Tours don’t offer a convenient, consistent avenue for searching for homes. Home buyers want to see all the homes available in their area. They don’t want to deal with redirects to 10 different VT interfaces to see photos of the homes. They want it all in one place. IMO, trying to view photos and information through a website like TourFactory is a big pain in the ass.

    Virtual Tours are a good tool for agents to use to impress their clients. They sound fancy and it’s a marketable catch-phrase to a home seller. I really don’t think they are a valuable tool for people searching for homes though. The amount of hits the average virtual tour gets is strong evidence to this effect.

    One company, Open Homes Photography (http://www.openhomesphotography.com), has a nice product that I like that some of my clients use. It offers a simple clean interface which provides photos and info of the home. Each site sits on a custom domain specifically for the listing. Perhaps it’s semantics but I consider this to be more of a custom property website than a virtual tour. Something like this can display neatly on a sign rider and at the top of a marketing flyer.

    Internet marketing for homes is very important and constantly evolving. From my experience, at least in the Seattle market, Virtual Tours are pretty much dead as a tool for home buyers.

  • Sigh…

    MLSes in the US are so 1995.

  • @Matt, could not disagree with you more.

  • Matt: You have to understand that every market is different. In the areas I serve (MA, NH, VT), the MLS allows video tours, and most IDX sites (probably 90-95%) pull in the tours as well. That is an optional field for the IDX web designers, so there are some who choose not to display tours, but most do. So between the MLS, basically every agent and broker website in the area via IDX, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, etc., virtual and video tours get quite a bit of exposure not only to other agents via the MLS, but to buyers as well. Don’t forget sellers also look at their potential competition on those sites before hiring an agent, and a good tour and good photography will stand out in a big way, so it’s also the source of potential new listings as well.

    I absolutely agree that viewing tours on tour providers websites is ridiculous. That business model makes no sense to me at all. Buyers want to see EVERYTHING that meets THEIR criteria, not just those few properties that have tours. Not to mention that many of those sites aren’t kept up to date.

    But I hear from agents and sellers almost weekly – unsolicited – about how the TOUR is what sold them on the property. They DO work if they are put out there for the public to see. Unfortunately, in the Seattle market, they make it a little more difficult.

    The real estate industry is a mess…. no doubt about it. And I’m guessing it’s not changing anytime soon…..

  • @Chris – thought I would chip in on the “text 12332” (known as SMS shortcodes) you mentioned about earlier… did some research on those and they’re *expen$ive* to use. Pricing for just one of those numbers alone is over $1,000 per month plus a hefty deposit fee. Unless it’s a super high end listing (or the brokerage has deep pockets and a heckuva marketing plan buying shortcodes in bulk), they’re not worth it. QR codes may be problematic but it’s a lot less cost to use.

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