According to a National Association of REALTORS® survey, over 40 percent of buyers in the past year found their homes on the internet and the trend is towards online house hunting grabbing an increasing share of the market. This means that your first point of contact with buyers is an online listing. As over fifty percent of visits to web pages last for under 15 seconds, you have only seconds to grab a prospective buyer’s attention before that buyer clicks through to another listing. Success in the digital real estate market requires two things, getting the buyer to look at a listing and getting the buyer to act on the listing by contacting an agent and setting up a viewing.
Where to List and Why
If buyers don’t know a home exists, they won’t be able to buy it. Every agent knows that an MLS listing is essential. Over 95 percent of MLS listing also appear on Realtor.com, the website of the National Association of REALTORS®. However, Realtor.com only boasts a 19 percent share of the total online real estate market. If you want to reach the other 80 percent, you need to think about managing your listings on Zillow.com (33 percent) and Trulia.com (16 percent) as well as targeted local and other listing sites (32 percent). While many listing sites reproduce listings from MLS and Realtor.com, you can’t rely on passively hoping that the sites will find and do a good job with your listing.
Even more important to your bottom line is that some real estate listing sites provide active links to agents who advertise rather than to the listing agent. If you want prospective buyers who see your listings on aggregate sites to contact you rather than a competitor, you need to take control by owning the ad space on pages with your listings.
Looking Good With Photographs
With only 15 seconds to grab a buyer’s attention, you need visual appeal. That means that the first photograph a buyer sees of the house should be stunning. A snapshot with a cell phone of a messy yard on an overcast day won’t cut it. Instead, learn to use a DLSR camera and photo editing software yourself or hire a professional. For the best shots:
- Pressure wash the exterior of the home and driveway.
- Mow the lawn and spruce up the landscaping with flowers or shrubs.
- Shoot in the magical light of sunrise or sunset with soft lights glowing inside.
- Stage the interior by cleaning and decluttering.
- Shoot the interior at mid-day with all windows open for bright natural light.
- Provide a wide range of interior shots, with at least one shot for each room.
- Add closeups of appealing features such as a recently remodeled kitchen, hardwood or tile flooring, an attractive patio, or a pool.
Make sure all information such as square footage, number of rooms, lot size, age of home, and what is or is not included with property is accurate and up to date. Make sure to include any special features that make the home attractive, such as energy efficiency, fireplaces, soaking tubs, views, and appealing activities in walking distance or within a short drive. Proofread carefully so you don’t have that sinking feeling of spotting an error after the listing goes live.
Create a Stunning Page on Your Own Site
Create a page on your own website for each listing. There is more to a home than a buyer will see on a big site with thousands of other listings. On your own website, you can provide additional information that will move buyers from the information search to the next stage of the buying process. Include the following elements to help buyers decide if a home is right for them:
- Multiple photos of the exterior, neighborhood, garage, and every room
- Floor plans with measurements
- A video tour of the home, including exterior and interior
- Links to information about schools, transportation, shopping, and neighborhood attractions
- Extended description of the home
- Estimate of utilities, taxes and other fees
- Link to mortgage calculator
- Call to action including your phone number, email, and a “contact us” button that allows a buyer to message you without leaving the site