(Updated December 2018)
The Auckland property market can sometimes be blistering hot where houses sell as fast as popsicles on a hot summer day at Mission Bay.
But at times, houses may not move as fast – often indicated by the days to sell statistic (read the market reports HERE).
Selling your home is hard. Summer (and 2019) fast is approaching.
If you are seriously thinking about selling your Eastern Bays / Remuera home, and considering your choice of real estate salespersons, then this is a must read. (But if you just want to hand over your hard-earned capital gains to any other agent and pay for mediocre performance, then here’s a funny cat video.)
One fundamental principle is undeniable: a good real estate salesperson matters a lot when you are selling your home.
However, it is important to know that, like most industries, not every real estate salesperson does the same things to sell a house.
Some are clearly much better at listing and selling houses, some are great at listing them (i.e. just obtaining the listing without being the one that closes the deal) and some prefer to do the bare minimum as long as they can get away with it.
In the current Auckland property market, to get the most money possible for your home and to actually get it sold, what you want is a top real estate agent who has the expertise to fetch you maximum dollars, and get your house sold.
In short, what you want to avoid is what is known as the “list and pray” method employed by some salespersons, which will cost you very dearly and some grief.
Technology today has made selling Auckland homes (or anything really) much more effective. Putting homes online leads to a wider reach at costs that would have been unheard of in the 1990s.
Oh and did you know – 82% of buyers researched their homes online in 2016. One can only guess what’s the percentage today.
Unfortunately, there are some real estate agents who do not have any form of online marketing strategy. All they do is list your house by posting it on the above websites (and their own agency website) and pray really hard that the house will somehow sell.
These ‘list and pray’ salespersons experience success with this formula in a hot market and use it repeatedly without any variation. They leave it to chance and these third party websites to find your next buyer.
Nothing screams ‘bad advertising’ (and bad salespersons) as bad real estate photography.
As a seller, you must know that photography is critically important in marketing your home. There is nothing more true in selling homes than the famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
The photography on your home can make or break a sale because the photography makes a difference as to whether a buyer decides to come through the next open home (or not).
Here’s an example of the same listing in the Eastern Bays. Which photograph will tempt you to visit?
I assume most will agree that the photograph on the right is far superior because:
If you were a buyer browsing through, you are much more inclined to take an interest in the second photograph even though they are the same exact house.
The right photography is even more important for many properties in Mission Bay, St Heliers, Glendowie (Riddell Road for example), Orakei and Kohimarama with stunning views, either of Rangitoto or from an elevated position. At those price points, you can bet that the value of the property is more emotionally driven than not, and nothing gets the heart racing than a fantastically taken picture.
Think about your own buying journey – did you skip by a home that does not look appealing online? Forget for a moment the fantastically written description of your home or how good your home really is. If the pictures are a turn-off, they will not be read. Buyers will not bother. Given the supply of homes on the Auckland market today, you can be sure that this will occur at a much higher frequency.
Remember: it need not be this case – good real estate photography has never been more affordable in this day and age, with digital editing agencies a dime a dozen. All you need is an agent who cares, and has an eye for luxury real estate and attention to the smallest detail. There’s simply no excuse for bad photography today.
The other thing you will notice in some marketing is a complete disregard for the importance of great descriptions of the homes both online and in the print marketing materials.
We are talking about typos, poor grammar, irrelevant information, clichéd phrases and/or a combination of the foregoing.
This is truly embarrassing for the industry (a huge bugbear of mine) and unfortunately, it is clear that most sellers do not check on their salespersons after the listing is signed. This is understandable, but this highlights the importance of avoiding a ‘list and pray’ agent.
Similar to photography, descriptions of homes are important because they speak to the potential buyer about all the great features of your home, including features that may not be amply demonstrated in a picture or even videos (for e.g. heated floors or lifestyle benefits such as community spirit / events within the immediate area).
A good description invokes vivid imagery as to what it means to live in such a home and fantastic neighbourhood, and therefore entices a buyer to want to visit and buy your home.
Here’s an example of a stunning description:
“Perched on a knoll, from which the ocean is often heard and its breezes most definitely felt, this 350 square metres residence of recent vintage offers masterful construction, consummate detail and impressive symmetry throughout its myriad indoor and outdoor spaces. The journey begins as a gracious entry welcomes you into a sun dappled environment over richly stained oak floors. “
Buying a home is often an emotive decision, especially in the more expensive homes that are in the Eastern Suburbs. In short, poorly written descriptions are simply not acceptable. Run fast from any such agent should you spot any such description.
Remember that average agents sell homes, but great agents sell dreams!
‘List and pray’ agents do what every agent does, and then pray for the best.
When you employ the exact same mediums and strategies that every other agent is using, the law of averages kicks in immediately. Why should your house stand out above the rest?
Success in advertising is ultimately about understanding people. What they want, what they do, where they spend their time and when. Astute marketers constantly monitor the volume of traffic to key advertising channels, and look at what people are spending their time on.
Where do you think most of your buyers spend the majority of their time? Where do you spend most of your time? I can guarantee that it’s not print (unless you work in a printing press). In fact, Kiwis spend over 5 hours per day using the Internet and the majority of that time – 1.6 hours – is spent using social media. Just think about the rapidly ‘thinning’ of the NZ Herald’s Classified pages.
The smart marketers follow the people. As the saying goes, advertising flows where the people go.
Some agents may seem ‘modern’. They will claim to have a Facebook page and that they will post your listing there – they then tell you that they do Facebook ‘advertising’.
But here’s the brutal hard truth. While social media platforms might look like a simple and fun idea on the outside, the reality is that each one is a business. Social media marketing is therefore pay to play. A poorly executed marketing campaign will therefore end up wasting money – which is what 95% of such campaigns do given that they are generic and run by a centralised system.
No matter how many ‘followers’ the agent might have, without paying to advertise, only a very tiny percentage will ever see the post (much less take action). And without doing any targeting, audience management and constantly reiterating and reviewing the campaign (try dropping these words on your agents), that’s not social media marketing at all.
And online marketing goes so much deeper than just social media marketing. There’s pay-per-click marketing, display marketing etc employed by the largest companies in the world to put their products in front of consumers. Why should the marketing of your home be inferior?
Do you know that a real estate salesperson can do so much more to sell a house than listing and praying?
Some real estate agents (especially after you ask them about the above) will tell you that all you must do is to sign the listing, price your home properly and the ‘online websites’ will take care of the rest. They may also tell you that these (often referring to social media) are simply gimmicks without any true value.
This then necessarily begs the question – if what they are saying is true, why bother advertising and listing with an agent then? Why do huge companies like Coca-Cola and Nike spend billions of dollars in advertising spend?
Surely they can just put up their product and rely on word of mouth – and you can just put your home up on the local papers / signboards and perhaps list your home on TradeMe on your own and save on the commission? (Note: I am obviously not advocating for selling your home on your own – read why HERE)
When the Auckland market is stable (stock is taking longer to move), you need every competitive edge you can get when selling your Eastern Suburb’s home.
A top real estate agent who will succeed in today’s competitive marketplace must necessarily think outside the box and not just use tools everyone else is using. They will understand and deploy modern marketing techniques and ideas that other real estate salespersons don’t know even exists or have access to.
All these ensure that your house STANDS OUT from everyone else’s.
Marketing combines both art and science:
These are things that take time, expertise to develop and lots of practice to get it right.
And agents who argue that ‘nobody buys a home on Facebook’ completely miss the obvious point – nobody buys cars, TVs, washing machines, Coca-cola or KFC off Facebook either. The point of such advertising is to highlight YOUR property to them, in the hope that they will be attracted to visit.
The only (obviously better) alternative to a ‘list’ and ‘pray’ method is a solid, well researched and customised modern marketing strategy.
First, you need to know who are the buyers who are likely to buy your house. That cannot be everybody because you simply cannot please the whole world. A good real estate agent needs to know the right buyer persona for your home. With a targeted demographic in mind (e.g. downsizers or DINKS (double income no kids)), the real estate agent can then tailor the advertising copy, photography and search criteria (no, I am not talking about TradeMe) for the right audiences.
Once a real estate agent know who the audiences are, he/she can better reach them.
Online marketing is by far more than putting up a TradeMe / Realestate.co.nz advertisement for your Eastern Suburbs’ home. The magic about precise online marketing is that you can have different ad copies targeted at different buyer personas so that you are able to address their unique pain points and entice them to your property (never knew you can do that right?).
A top real estate salesperson operating at the specialised end of the marketing spectrum can skilfully execute that and so much more. A ‘list and pray’ salesperson will, however:
The best part is – it will not cost you a dime more, and often can save money should you choose to opt for online advertising and exclude print advertising.
If your real estate agent has a high quality website that is search engine optimised and ranks well on major search engines (for e.g Google and Bing), your home is more likely to be seen by thousands who visit, and such marketing efforts generate momentum on their own (all at no cost to you).
Often, such websites are not intended to be ‘sales’-focused, but are meant to be a helpful guide to all. Buyers and sellers often need help when it comes to buying or selling their dream Eastern Suburbs’ home. This therefore ensures a continual traffic flow (have a look at my November 2018 numbers below for my website).
More importantly, when these high-quality, high-intent visitors view these pages, they often pop over to visit the ‘for sale’ pages (93.2% of such visitors in November 2018 do so for mine – yes this can be tracked!). Imagine what such free advertising of your listing does for your home?
If the website is well received, it should also have a large database of active subscribers (hello, you!). The agent then can instantly reach out to thousands of subscribers with your listing, especially when they publish well-received newsletters.
(And no, sending weekly listings to ‘subscribers’ do not count – the open rates are truly dismal for obvious reasons – when you are staying in Glendowie, what are the chances that you are looking for a property in Papatoetoe?)
With social media having become a large part of normal day to day activities of millions (Facebook has 2 billion users), it just makes sense to have an agent who is really clued in and leveraging on such channels as another means of broadcasting that your home is for sale.
Social media channels include Facebook, Google, Instagram and Linkedin (yes, did you know you can even advertise there to target high-end buyers?) and a modern real estate agent will use every possible channel to reinforce and created an integrated marketing strategy (remember just a lone medium is not enough) and make your home more visible to the world. This also includes print advertising, which is often ineffective because it lacks synergy with the online advertising.
And more importantly, the agent does not confuse vanity statistics with effectiveness – the number of ‘likes’, ‘followers’ or ‘views’ do not matter. What matters is that of conversion – converting a person who has seen your listed home into someone who actually contacts your agent to inquire and buy it.
Without giving away too much in detail (hi there, fellow real estate agents!), such agents are able to expose your home repeatedly to potential buyers. ‘List and pray’ real estate salespersons would never dream of doing any of these – it takes too much effort and more importantly they do not have the skills or the platforms to do so.
When looking for a real estate salesperson to sell your home, you should always find one that truly understands how to leverage and unleash the power of internet in selling your home.
‘List and pray’ real estate salespersons take the path of least resistance and expect the internet to do the work for them. In a hot market where houses sell themselves, this may not be a problem. In the current market, your house needs to be outstanding.
Find an agent that does not ‘list and pray’, cares enough about providing value to everyone to have a proper website, and to make it a good one.
You will be paying a lot of money to an agent to perform and sell your home. Typically the best real estate agents do not charge more money than the average ones so it all absolutely makes sense to have one working for you! In fact, my marketing spend for clients is often less and achieve greater results in terms of reach/clicks – simply because I control the marketing budget tightly and such ads can immediately end once the house is sold.
All these ensure that your home will enjoy the widest possible exposure that your budget can afford, and that your home can sell for a great price.
Just don’t make the mistake many have made when they chose an agent employing a ‘list and pray’ method.