The Market is Changing
In May 2018, Redfin commissioned a survey of 1,463 U.S. residents in 14 metropolitan areas who in the past year who bought a home. The purpose of the survey was to better understand the perspectives and experiences of people who were recently in the market to buy or sell a home.
The survey found that twenty percent of people who bought a home in the last year made an offer without first seeing the home in person.
Consumers are likely paying less for real estate brokerage services in part because of the increasing prevalence of companies like Redfin that offer lower-cost alternatives to the traditional real estate model. In 2016, real estate tech companies received more funding than ever before, meaning the options for new, alternative and money-saving ways to buy and sell homes have never been more abundant, and the choices for consumers are likely to grow. Millennials’ expanding role in the housing market–paired with their increased tendency to save on fees–will likely drive a shift in the real estate industry toward these tech-reliant, non-traditional brokerage models.
Expect Increased competition
The market is seeing increased competition from tech firms in the form of Redfin, Opendoor.com, Zillow Instant Offers, and more. They are working hard to disrupt real estate and the way homes are bought and sold.
"Skip the hassle"
"Sell your home to Opendoor so you can skip the hassle of listing, showings, and months of uncertainty."
An agent's value and their real estate commission are under attack.
Experience, availability, personal service, reviews, referrals, and more still matter and customers will always do business with professionals they like.
One of the best ways to differentiate your value and services.
For homes listed between $200,000 and $1 million, Redfin found that homes with listing photos taken with DSLR cameras sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices.
Better property marketing results in more buyers, more offers, a faster sale, and higher price.
I'm going to dive into different aspects of marketing a property looking at specific ways to boost the listing to impress your sellers, showcase your business, and capture more buyers.
Drone Photography / Videography
Internet Advertising - Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com
Social Media Advertising
"Coming Soon" Advertising
- Critical to stage the home with intent for the photos
- Work with a photographer who will be mindful of the staging for the images - moving around furniture, framing photos to draw attention, etc.
- A properly staged home can make all the difference
Photography is the currently the most important part of marketing a property online.
- Make sure your photographer straightens vertical lines and levels horizons
- All of the photos should be edited with the intention for optimal online display - editing for print is different
- Have the photographer capture a mix of landscape and detail shots to show off the property
- Schedule the photographer at times when the light is best for the property - early morning, early evening
- Have the photographer capture twilight shots - during and after sunset
Video may eventually become as important as photography, but the online real estate platforms have not evolved yet.
For example, Zillow.com either allows you to pay to post a professional video on a listing (you have to be a premium agent), otherwise you have to use their mobile app to create the video.
To effectively make the most out of real estate videos, YouTube, Facebook, and other social profiles must already be built and there must be an advertising budget prepared or audience already in place to target for the video content.
One of the best kinds of video for real estate is lifestyle videography. This captures what images, 3D tours, and other content won't - what is it actually like to live in the home? These can be very expensive to create.
Basic home tours can still do a good job of illustrating features of the home, just consider the cost vs potential gain. Walk through videos can be reasonably priced and effective.
Rating: Only for specific properties or when absolutely necessary to win the listing - Great for self-promotion if done right and consistently
Currently one of the go-to ways to differentiate a home online, but it is not always necessary. Drones are still very much a hot topic culturally and a way to appear advanced or technologically savvy in front of clients. Be sure you hire a licensed commercial drone operator with an insurance policy!
The quality of drone photography and videography is majorly impacted by the operator's experience and photographic editing ability.
Lead with captivating exterior drone images in the listing, since they will draw in more attention for the property online.
For added interest:
- Drone panoramas
- Drone twilight images
- Drone videography
Rating: Not essential, but depends on the property - Necessary for luxury listings, as drone photography is slowly becoming more mainstream
3D/VR Home Tours - Matterport
There are a variety of different 3D tour companies, but the best I've found so far is Matterport. They have relationships with major real estate companies and syndicate their information to Realtor.com.
With the rise of VR, which is continually improving, we aren't that far away from consumers visiting homes seamlessly through goggles before going there in-person.
A 3D/VR tour of the property is also immensely helpful for international or out of state buyers to see the property prior to visiting it. Be sure the property is as clean as possible as the camera will capture everything!
Having a 3D/VR tour done of a home can be a great way to maximize on marketing since the camera can also create a floor plan and provide property photos.
Rating: Not essential... yet - Arguably the best way to view a home for a buyer, since they get to virtually walk through the space - Automatically linked to Realtor.com from Matterport. Redfin has incorported this into their property marketing.
You can pay for someone to create a floor plan independently using a laser level or another tool for measurement, or you have it added on to a 3D/VR tour for very little money.
Either way, these are a great addition to your listing marketing materials and may be viewed as essential by some sellers.
Rating: Important so buyers can gain an understanding of the space - Have them done with a 3D/VR tour for very little extra $
Since Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and other sites don't display much of the content for listings, using a property website becomes the best place to drive buyers to view information about the home.
Property websites are an excellent opportunity to extend the value of property marketing, since these sites can exist forever to be used in listing presentations, on business websites, and other locations. They are extremely effective when shared with consumers to showcase the kind of work you do.
A custom URL for the property site (such as 100mainstreet.com) helps drive traffic to the page and makes it easier to sell to consumers. Place the URL at the top of your listing description and in the virtual tour field of the MLS as well.
Rating: Essential if you are have anything more than photography done to market the home.
Most of the major real estate websites that buyers use to look at homes are focused on advertising, not necessarily selling the home. Each is different, but ultimately they want to collect buyers' contact information.
By tailoring each of the most popular sites you can help drive interested buyers to see your property and bring in more people to the open house.
Most Popular Platforms:
- Zillow.com - Home of the "Zestimate" :-/
- Realtor.com - Integrated Matterport 3D/VR tours
- Redfin.com - Highlights homes that are "Hot" and will sell faster
- Yahoo! Homes - Listing fed by Zillow
- Put any important links at the top of the listing description, such as to the property website
- Optimize your online agent profile on each of these main websites
- Any pixelated property photos can be replaced with higher resolution images
Rating: Essential - When you've paid to have the property look its best, you need to make sure that online it matches up
Social Media Advertising
The popularity of social media only continues to rise with the increasing power of mobile devices. This kind of advertising helps generate demand for the property.
Social media is a pay to play system. If you aren't planning to pay to provide additional exposure for the property, don't expect to get great results right away - you will need to build your audience.
Running Facebook/Instagram ads is currently one of the easiest and best ways to drive additional traffic to the property. It is cost effective and only requires a Facebook business page, with a post including content about the property.
Sample effective social media platforms for real estate:
- Instagram (owned by Facebook)
Rating: Not essential, but highly advisable - A great way to generate leads and exposure for your business, in addition to the property
Excellent print marketing still reigns supreme with luxury buyers and sellers. It is one of the definitive elements for many luxury brands and doesn't have to cost a lot to produce. No matter the price of the property, including attractive print marketing is critical and can definitely help during a listing presentation to show off your marketing prowess.
Whether you are creating a double-sided flyer, brochure, or postcard, there are many options for buying good design work if you don't want to have to create these pieces yourself.
Watch your budget, as doing print on nice stock can get expensive quickly. The actual printing will cost the most, not the design work!
"Coming Soon" Advertising
This is a very niche kind of advertising that started having more visibility with Zillow's "Coming Soon" property feature. Be sure to follow MLS and your brokerage's rules for posting Coming Soon listings.
"Coming Soon" listings work best when you have a lot of content to share about the property, such as photos, video, 3D/VR tour or more. You can release bits of content prior to the home going live on MLS to entice buyers to learn more about the home. This strategy is exceptional in hot markets or during peak real estate seasons.
The easiest way to do a "Coming Soon" listing is to run an ad or mark it as coming soon the week prior to putting it in MLS. It's kind of like why movie trailers are so successful prior to the movie. Don't you want to see a sneak peak?
Rating: Not essential - Only use in certain circumstances - Explain to consumers that want it the pros and cons
Use these tools in your listing presentation to win more business and negotiate a fair commission for your efforts.
All of these services work to increase exposure for the property, increase the perceived value of the home, and encourage competition among buyers to create a bidding war. The combination of these effects leads to faster home sales and higher prices.