How to Market Your Home for Sale
Marketing is the process of advertising and showing your home in order to attract buyers. If you're working with a real estate agent, he or she will likely handle the marketing for you, though most agents welcome additional help if you'd like to contribute to the marketing effort as well.
How to Advertise Your Home
Advertising your home should involve a mix of print ads, online listings, and physical signage and flyers.
- Print ads: Your agent should place ads for your home in the classified section of local newspapers. Ideally the ads should include small photos.
- Online listings: Most agents list their for-sale homes on their agency's (or their own) website and on various national real-estate websites such as www.realtor.com. Some agencies create custom websites for each home they list. Make sure your online listings include several high-quality photos and, ideally, a virtual tour, which lets buyers "tour" your home online. Also have your agent list your home on www.craigslist.org, the leading classifieds site.
- Physical signage and flyers: Even in the digital age, the traditional "For Sale" sign remains an essential part of marketing a home. Make sure the sign that your agent uses includes a box holding fact sheets, one-page flyers (including color photos) that tell buyers everything they need to know about your home. The sign should also include your home's website address, if you have one. Your agent can also distribute your fact sheet at open houses and showings.
How to Conduct Open Houses and Showings
There are two ways in which interested buyers can view your home in person: open houses and showings.
- Open house: An event (usually held on a Sunday) during which the public can visit your home. Agents may publicize open houses by posting flyers in your neighborhood, placing ads online and in local newspapers, and by attaching balloons to your "For Sale" sign. Agents attend the open house (usually with an assistant)-you should not attend. A broker's open house is a special open house in which local real estate brokers (agents) are invited to tour your home and ideally return again, the next time with their clients. Your agent should set up a broker's open house shortly after you list your home.
- Showing: A showing is a "private" open house in which a buyer (or his or her agent) sets up an appointment to view your home at a specific time. Neither you nor your agent needs to be present for a showing-usually your agent will set up a lockbox that allows buyer's agents to enter your home with their clients by using a special code. Buyers' agents will contact you (through your agent) to confirm an acceptable showing time. Most agents suggest that homeowners not be present during showings.
How to Prepare for a Showing or an Open House
- Prepare the interior: The interior of your home should be impeccable. At the same time, it should not look like a barren warehouse. Presenting a cozy and clean home will enable your buyer to picture living happily in it. Studies have shown that buyers respond more favorably to homes with furniture and decorations, so don't strip away everything (but do put away personal items, such as family photos). Hiring a cleaning service to work right before each open house or showing is also a good idea.
- Apply the finishing touches: Staging is the term agents use to refer to putting the final touches on a home before a showing or an open house. To stage your home effectively, make sure the beds are made, the toilets seats are down, and the sinks are clean. Clear off all surfaces, such as tables and desks. Turn on all the lights, open the drapes, and draw the shades to make the home luminous. Use fresh flowers, just-baked cookies, potpourri, and soft music to make your home look, smell, and sound homey.
Dos and Don'ts for Open Houses and Showings
Most agents will tell you what to do (and what not to do) before, during, and after an open house or showing. Here are some general guidelines:
- Leave the house (bring your children and pets with you)
- Secure valuable items, such as jewelry
- Expect your agent to tidy up or stage your home
- Hang around or lurk in your neighbor's driveway
- Arrive home early or even at the scheduled ending time of the event-expect it to run a bit late
- Call your agent during the event for updates