Once you list your home the most important marketing tool you have is your listing.
Your listing is your public facing information.
It includes photographs, description and basic statistics of your home. Your homes listing data will be the same across the board whether it is a real estate agents website, Zillow, Realtor.com or any other real estate portal found on the internet.
But there are things you should never say or do in your real estate listing of your home.
Your real estate listing should be compelling and inviting and make your target buyers want to see your house.
Where Does Your Real Estate Listing Information Come From?
First lets look at where your homes stats and images come from and then look at how it get to the other public real estate portals out there.
Your homes photographs and information are going to come from several sources.
- The seller. You, the seller are going to provide basic information on your home as you know it. Basic stats, what you know about the homes maintenance, renovations etc…
- Public information. Some of the information like tax assessment, zoning, lot, easement data and so on…. will be gathered from various town and county sites.
- Your listing agent. Will verify and assess what information is correct and what should be used in your home’s listing. Often they are relying on you for accurate information. They will also provide services like a real estate photographer to help complete your listing.
From There Your Listing Is Uploaded
Once all the data is compiled, descriptions are written, all the data along with your homes professional real estate photography is uploaded into your agent’s local Multiple Listing Service. The multiple listing service is a mechanism for which almost every real estate agents belong to and allows them to share inventory from a large database on a local level.
When your homes listing data is uploaded to the MLS literally thousands of public facing real estate portals take the information and package it to fit the format of their site, using some or all of the information provided.
Your Real Estate Listing Is Your Most Important Marketing Effort
When you list you home there is nothing more important than how your listing presents itself online or what I call web appeal.
Over 85% of the buyers who may be interested in your home will have their first exposure to your home from the real estate listing as it is presented online. If you don’t capture their attention online you lost them for good.
If your listing doesn’t present well or it presents wrong, you may find a long road ahead of you. It is important your data and listing is complete and accurate from the get go. New listings are exciting and can gain a lot of attention. As a home sits on the market they lose their “new” polish and shine
The goal of marketing your property is to interest the broadest range of buyers that would truly consider your home.
What Things Should You Never Say Or Do When Marketing Your Home Online?
#1 Use Bad Real Estate Photography
Past the price of your home, the bedroom count and the bathroom count, nothing is more important than your homes photographs. Based on a recent study. The average home buyer spends 93 seconds looking at a listing. 60% of that is spent looking at the photographs alone. With almost 25% of that time looking at the front photo alone!
It is now common practice for many agents to use a professional real estate photographer. If your photos are blurry, poorly lit, crooked etc… you will lose interest from buyers before they truly get a good look at your home.
The photos below are the same listing. The verticals were taken for a prior listing that expired. The second were taken by me after repackaging the listing. Almost the exact same shots, different quality.
#2 Selling As-Is
For most sellers, advertising your home for sale as-is, will be a big mistake. Yes there is a time and place to sell your house as-is. But for the average home, in livable shape, you are creating a perception for the buyers. A bad perception.
Advertising your home as-is creates two red flags in a home buyer’s mind.
First and foremost it leaves the buying public thinking there is something so wrong with your house. As-is is usually a term that home buyers connect with houses that are in such dire repair a bank will not finance them and are reserved for cash deals.
It also screams to the buyer, I am totally inflexible, it is my way or the highway.
You will turn away buyers by using the term sold as-is in your real estate listing, that could be potentially good buyers for your home.
#3 Asking Price is Firm
By announcing your asking price is firm, again you are telling potential buyer’s you are completely inflexible. Yes I get it, you don’t want to play games and haggle.
But announcing it up front, turns away many buyers. You want buyers submitting offers. Its a starting point for negotiations.
I can’t tell you how many times I have negotiated a low ball offer into an offer a home seller finds acceptable. Not every offer may work but at least it is an opportunity.
Remember home buying is emotional. In many cases, you need a home buyer to fall in love with your house. Let them fall in love with your house first. Prior to an actual visit to your home, a home buyer will be more likely to approach your home transactionally and with no or little emotion.
If you are firm on your listing price, tell them after they submit an offer, thank you for your offer but we are looking for full price. They are emotionally involved at that point.
#4 Home Buyers Must Be Pre-Approved
I have been in the business a long time. And, yes many buyer’s are pre-approved when they call me.
But others are not. The minute they call, I and many other agents get them started on the pre-approval process immediately.
All it takes sometimes is that one house for a casual buyer to get excited and run out and get pre-approved immediately and in turn become a serious buyer. Insisting every buyer who comes through the door must provide evidence they are pre-approved could turn some of the best buyers away.
Otherwise, the perfect buyer for your home could be sitting there, loving your house online, but thinking oh this house will be gone before I can get pre-approved.
Insist on a pre-approval prior to negotiating an offer, not when it hits the internet.
#5 Over Exaggerating The Description Of Your Home
Your home is what it is. A buyer will quickly know that you exaggerated the description as soon as they walk through the door. Don’t try to make your house into something it isn’t.
And, I will say it again you want to market your home to the right buyers.
A home with a 17 year old kitchen, is not a home with a recent kitchen remodel. For many kitchens, styling trends can make a kitchen remodel outdated after 10 years.
A home needing a new roof, new furnace, window upgrades is not a home in pristine condition, leaving nothing to be done.
Focus on the true features and benefits of your home and don’t make you home something it is not in your real estate listing.
#6 Counting Rooms As Bedrooms That Are Not True Bedrooms
This is a biggy. Don’t state that a room is a bedroom unless it is truly a legal bedroom.
What makes a bedroom legal? A bedroom must have certain egresses, be heated and have sewer/septic capacity .
The biggest problem is basement bedrooms. They don’t have safe egresses in case of a fire. Many buyers will not count a basement bedroom as a bedroom, primarily because it does not meet fire codes.
Many buyers have specific minimum bedroom requirements. They will also have certain expectations like a closet, where it is located in the home, etc…. Nothing is a bigger turn off to a buyer to find out your 4 bedroom home is really a 3 bedroom home.
#7 Falsely Stating The Square Footage Of Your Home
Calculating your homes square footage or living area is pretty cut and dry. The standard is set by FannieMae and what appraisers are and are not allowed to use when appraising a home.
Simply put its the outside foundation dimension of any above grade area that is heated. A homes living area should never include any unheated areas like 3 season rooms, breezeways or unheated attic rooms. Nor should it include any below grade living areas in a basement.
It is certainly alright to identify and show the benefit of these areas but do not include it in the square footage.
It is frustrating for a buyer to see a house listed as 2400 square feet and than get there to find out half of it is a basement remodel.
#8 Making Subjective Statements
Be very careful making subjective statements that a buyer can not assess about your house at the time of a showing. Two words that pop into mind on homes I see all the time are “safe” and “quiet”
Both are very subjective to the individual, but more importantly can lead to liability issues. If a buyer should buy based on your assessment of “safe” or “quiet” but finds it not so, after they move in, it can lead to a law suit.
#9 Repeating The Obvious In Your Homes Description
Just about every front facing real estate listing’s first view of a home. is a picture of the front of the home, along with the price, bedroom count, bathroom count and size of the home.
Do not repeat the obvious in the real estate description in your listing. The buyers are already aware. The description is meant to highlight features of your home that are not obvious. Why is your large lot unique? One of the bedrooms is an incredible master suite, or your kitchen is remodeled with the most current styling.
Restating the already obvious is a big mistake in your real estate listing. YOu have limited space to tell your homes story, don’t waste it.
#10 Violate Fair Housing Laws
Every state will have a different set of Fair Housing Laws. Fair Housing laws prevent you from discriminating against a class of people.
One phrase you see occasionally pop up in a real estate listing is “family neighborhood”. In Massachusetts this can be construed to be in violation of two protected classes of people. Age and marital status are both protected classes of people in which that statement could be construed as being exclusionary towards.
Also, in Massachusetts, Handicapped people are a protected class. You could be found in violation of fair housing laws to say your home is in “walking distance” of….. You are now excluding handicapped (who can’t walk) people from buying your home.
Violating Fair Housing Laws carries some steep fines and can open you up to law suits.
A good rule of thumb is don’t talk about people talk about the property. And, always double check to make sure you aren’t excluding a protected class with your language or trying or trying to steer a protected class to your property.
#10 Seller Is Motivated
You may be a motivated seller and that is all right.
By announcing it to the world you won’t gain a damn thing, accept invite obnoxious offers. The buyer’s perception will be you are desperate and they will try and take advantage of the situation.
You can be motivated and price your home to sell and accomplish the same thing without announcing to the world take advantage of me!
Remember These Final Thoughts
- Real Estate Photography is THE first exposure your buyers have to your home. Make sure it captures there attention and want to look into your home.
- Don’t turn buyers away before ever coming though the door with lots of no’s or negatives. Let them come and fall in love with your house. Showings = Offers.
- Don’t make your home into something it isn’t. Focus on the features and benefits of your home. A home needs to stand on its own merit at a given price to sell.
The good news is an experienced listing agent can help you with all of this. Providing real estate photography, floor plans, compiling and verifying data and presenting your home in it’s best light.
Home Marketing Resources:
- Bill Gassett- All About Earnest Money Deposits
- Paul Sian- Expert Marketing Strategies
- Jeff Nelson- Leveraging Marketing To Sell Your Home
- Danny Margagliano- Increase Curb Appeal To Increase Marketability
This article, Things You Should Never Say or Do In Your Real Estate Listing, was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. I have helped 100’s of home buyers and sellers over the years and am confident my experience and skills can make purchasing your next home a pleasant experience. Please feel free to reach me at 978-360-0422 to discuss your upcoming purchase.