Interview your agent and go with your gut as well as any information they might bring to the table.
So you know the stats.. 8-9 out of 10 people are going to the internet to search for homes such as places like Trulia. The agent that you want is the agent that understands this and has invested time and work on creating an internet presence and is able to put you into as many moving targets (buyers) as possible. Otherwise, what Sam prescribes will cost you time and very likely money as you will need to wait it out amoung the thousands of other properties that are discounted due to REO and short sales.
As you can see, Sam hasn't prescribed a solution for this very real problem in the market.
By the way, the magic pill is visibility not just the MLS. Like I said before, blogs, various RE sites, open houses, working the agents network.. I will give you this, it is the house that sells. People choose the house they do not go looking for the agent. However, you need to stand out among the thousands of homes in inventory.
You are the real estate experty combing Trulia to post angry rants? Sounds like you have some time on your hands. Especially the fact that you are not in the industry. Funny!!
I would be glad to discuss with you if you'd like.
In the real world of real estate today, there's not really much marketing that can be employed other than what you see on a daily basis. Obviously, the internet is starting place for over 90%+ of the potential home buyers out there. Most agents have one, two, three or more websites that their listings are posted on, as well as their 'broker' or 'company' website.
Newspaper advertising is almost an afterthought. In the last 5 years, I don't think I've had ONE phone call on the newspaper ads that I run; my company pays for a 1-day 'new to market' ad in a Saturday or Sunday edition of the Republic for all of my listings. It's free so I use it, and it makes my seller(s) happy to see their home in the newspaper.
I also spend about $100 per month on advertising in a small printed real estate guide that is free at grocery stores, convenience stores, the post office, etc. and while I do generate 1-2 calls every 2-3 weeks from it, I haven't sold ONE home out of that entire ad to someone that called on the actual ad, and it's a half-page or sometimes full-page ad (all color photo's too). Those listings are also posted on a website that is hosted by the magazine. (I run this ad because one of the banks that I work with selling their foreclosures likes to see their homes listed in some form of print advertising.)
Depending on the listing, we sometimes do a neighborhood mailer (postcard) and some neighborhood flyers as well.
The bottom line is this...no one likes spending money without results, especially real estate agents whose income fluctuates worse than the stock market. Remember, it's not uncommon for an agent to go weeks or sometimes months without a closing (paycheck) while we cultivate our listings and our buyers' escrows.
When we market a property, we want to know that our dollars are going to net us some results...period. Right now, the two things that go into selling a property for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time are:
>that the home is priced correctly given the current market conditions and the neighborhood
>the MLS listing is put together in such a way as to draw in as many buyer's agents as possible, meaning there are a LOT of interior/exterior photos, good descriptions, correct directions to the home, etc.
I should also add in a third. That the listing agent actually answers his/her phone when and if a buyer's agent calls (or a prospective buyer) and actually 'sells' the property's features and positive traits to that individual. A good agent will do a LOT more than just take names and numbers and give out 'status' updates of the listing. A good agent knows how to talk to the other agents and to the prospective buyers and knows what questions to ask to get them interested in the listing.
There are a TON of agents out there that don't seem to value something as simple as answering their phone and talking about their listing. This is still a 'person to person' business, even with the internet ruling the world, and if you don't put yourself in front of other people and make yourself accessible by phone, then in my opinion, you're OUT OF BUSINESS.
I receive a LOT more phone calls from my yard signs than I ever have from ANY form of printed advertising that I've done, and the yard sign is about $40, and is a one-time fee to have installed. It's the highest return on investment that I can think of, other than the MLS fee that we pay every year as agents. Yet, still again, I see a LOT of homes that don't have yard signs, either because the agent doesn't want to spend the money or they simply forget to install it.
All that being said, most of the homes sold today are from the Multiple Listing Service, and are sold through a cooperating agent, ie: a buyer's agent who is searching the MLS daily for a home for their buyer. This is still the best way to market and advertise a home that is priced correctly. The key is that it's priced correctly!
I'd be interested to hear what other forms of advertising that the Trulia agent community utilizes, and to see what results they are having.
Century 21 All Star, REALTORS