My parents, a couple in Northern Wisconsin are in the process of selling their vacation home. Like many vacation homes, selling can be unpredictable. There are certain desirable features like lakefront and downtown access, acreage and spectacular views that help a home sell quickly, but buyers can be picky when looking for a vacation property.
In this particular market, listing a vacation property before and during the summer months is crucial as it's arguably the most popular time of the year. With long summer holiday weekends and water sports in full throttle, there are many prospective buyers on the hunt. So upon hearing from the listing agent that the property had only "a few nibbles" by mid-July was shocking.
So, I began my quest to see why more people weren't viewing my parent's property. I wanted to see if there were any small tweaks that could be made to their web listing. My parents used a real estate professional who was referred to them by their friends. They did not go online and check out this agent's website, online reviews, current listings or social presence. However, I did. And, here are the three things that caused my parent's real estate agent to lose the listing.
1. Lack of Quality Listing Photos
The photos used for my parents listing were dark and often times cut the room in half. They did not do the property justice. They were accurate photos but lacked any character. Of course, not every home needs professional photography. But, if you decide to take photos yourself, you better understand angles, lighting and how to stage the home for the best photo possible. There's a reason many agents hire a photographer for every listing (no matter the price point.) It's because professional photographers know how to make a room come alive. Look into hiring a local photographer a few hours a week to capture all your listings or look into companies such as Planomatic to take the photos for you. Otherwise, invest in photo-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. If on your mobile phone, try VSCO, Pic-Tap-Go or Adobe Lightroom, Capture, Photoshop Express.
2. Very Little Online Presence
When I Googled my parents listing, it did show up on places like YouTube, Facebook, and the real estate's company website. But, these platforms had no followers! If you have a successful real estate business in 2018 without an online strategy, we need to talk. It's definitely possible to manage and grow your business without social media and certain online platforms; however, I wouldn't' recommend it. Putting a property on social media isn't as simple as boosting a post and checking back after a few days. You must take the time to develop the channels you want to use. This is where great photos come in handy! The more intriguing and high quality the photos; the better chance the property will be shared and commented on via platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Also, we've said this time and again, your social accounts are not only for your listings. Growing a following is a hard task, but with a little effort and engagement on your end, it's easier than you think.
3. The Agent Was Going Through the Motions
I think the thing that bothered me the most about how my parent's property was being marketed is that they were told that the property was getting views simply because of its placement online. But, when I did a little digging, I noticed this meant a link was shared to Facebook and YouTube. But, the link had no descriptive copy, no hashtags, and no meaningful photos or information. It was simply just a link to the property on the company webpage. For those who hear that their property is being marketed online, they assume this means more than just link sharing. Each property is different, they all have their own unique appealing qualities, and it is the real estate agent's job to highlight those qualities. Marketing every property, no matter the size, location or extra amenities the exact same does not fly with me—and it shouldn't with any seller. Set the expectation with your sellers that you will market their property the best way you see fit and explain what this means. This may invite more questions and critiques, but it shows you aren't just going through the motions.
After my discoveries, I suggested my parents choose a new real estate agent to list their property. REAL Trends The Thousand and America's Best Real Estate Rankings are great resources for consumers. I like to reference those rankings because it gives me access to the best real estate professionals in my parent's area. So naturally, as an employee of REAL Trends, I checked these lists and found a few candidates to recommend.
Earlier this week my parent's relisted their cabin with new photos and changes that were suggested from their new agent and before lunch, on Monday I received this text from my mom.