Effective Ads: One Buyer's Perspective

Asked by Atlfemme, 30066 Tue Jan 15, 2008

I search several websites as I'm looking for my next home. Even when I narrow my search criteria, I usually get at least 100 results. What makes me click through to read about a particular listing? 1) photos. No pictures = don't waste my time. At minimum, I want to see the front & back of the property, the kitchen, main living space & master bedroom / bath. 2) Keywords about the structure & land: Are the roof, HVAC, & key systems newer? Is the house 1 story or 2? Stepless entry? Is the lot level or sloped? Yes, if I went to see it in person, I'd know all those things & I can find much of what I want to know via internet research. My point is that I'm not going to look up details on over 100 properties at a time. Suggestion for the listing agents out there: Make it easy to find your listing in internet searches by providing useful keywords, & give enough core facts in the summary to make me read the listing all the way through. Otherwise, I'm scrolling down past you.

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20
Team Forss,…, Agent, Temecula, CA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
BEST ANSWER
You are so right Atlfemme!

As a realtor, #1 I will pretend I didn't hear Tman's usual unethical or illegal nonsense, but the underlining sentiment was agreeing with you.

If the seller hires a nincumpoop like Auntie did below, realize it quick and fire the agent.

1) At the very least, your realtor should be taking 10 great pictures (not good, not ok, but great!) There are some inexpensive cameras that take great pictures, no experience required!!!! Daylight hours are best of course but if you have an estate, take them at dusk using the different settings on the camera if you have them. (play around , its fun!) . This should be done within 24 hrs of taking the listing (hopefully the same time if its nice outside) Sometimes it may require coming back for a 2nd set of shots if the lighting was right for the first

2) Atlfemme, you hit the nail on the head...be creative in your writing, don't lie, don't exaggerate, just use the facts and make the important ones stand out. Get the consumers attention or why bother!

Just last month, we had a "fixer upper". It was a great deal "bank owned" property. The people that lost the home had ducks wondering around inside using it as a bathroom along with their dogs and we think the owners too! There was water damage, small portions of buckled laminate flooring and the odor was intolerable when you went in it. It could be a great property with new flooring, fresh paint, few touch ups.

After it was professionally cleaned, (nothing got all the odor out),
the marketing on the internet (Craigs List, Edgio, Back page, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc...) was titled.... " Looking for Turnkey?!? DON'T look here!! "

We put in maximum number of pictures for each site (always do) with full detailed description. It was definitely a great investor buy because it was priced about 150 under the model match's on the market but didn't require more then about 20-30 to bring it up to the competition.(per our contractor)

Bottom line is we got a crazy number of hits and it sold immediately.

The tag line creates the interest,
the pictures create the desire,
the description creates need,
the price creates the value and
seeing it LIVE creates the decision.

Without the first 3, you never know if it was a good value because you'll skim right by the listing.

Majority of agents have finally gotten to the point of good pictures and description now that they have been given a hard time all these years for not putting any effort into it. Their competition is speeding by them and most agents, if they are serious about staying in the business, will catch on and adjust their process accordingly.

But the bottom line is that ad writing, angle of picures and marketing are key to any sale (FSBO or conventional) . The more key words the agent is using, the more hits you'll get, the more market visibility and the more solds that happen.

Thanks for bring up the topic, more of us should get the hint !
Web Reference:  http://www.LisaForss.com
3 votes
Bg, Both Buyer And Seller, 33767
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Atlfemme: The buyer who is still looking at internet ads is not a buyer yet. When a buyer gets serious about buying, they let their real estate agent know what, when, where, and how much and any other defining information about the house they want. A buyer who is actually ready to buy, if they have chosen their agent well, will see all the homes that best fit what they are looking for.
Actually buying a home is far more detailed than :"catalog" shopping the ads.
If you choose your agent well, your agent has the knowledge to pick the diamond in the rough that you may have overlooked by "scrolling down past" an ad that did not have enough information to please your "window shopping"

Get the best agent you can find to represent you when you are ready to buy. It will cost you nothing, and save you thousands of dollars that a novice could cost you.

Tman:

If your tale is the truth, YOU and your real estate AGENT both committed a felony in the "under the table" deal.
4 votes
Bg, Both Buyer And Seller, 33767
Wed Jan 16, 2008
Tman
you assume much, and are accurate in little
3 votes
Patti Pereyra, , Chicago, IL
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Yes, Tman, you said "under the table": "This time we listed it FSBO and the home sold in 9 weeks ... funny, the buyers agent was her original from 21 years ago - we paid him a flat 2% under the table."

To your specific example in your first post, I'm having a hard time seeing what you did, and more importantly, what the agent you compensated did, as ethical or legal.

An agent has a relationship with a broker, and is really only licensed to perform real estate activities on behalf of that broker. Because of that, any and all activities are supposed to be performed in the name of the real estate company that the designated agent represents. Legally, the agent has no authority to receive commission directly from any client, which is what "under the table" means. It means bypassing the broker.

In your second post, you talk about kickbacks, which is totally different. They are incentives, and yes, the agent that receives it must still go through her broker.
3 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Wed Jan 16, 2008
Will the tall tales never end, Tman?
2 votes
Team Forss,…, Agent, Temecula, CA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Tman, you're so funny. You lost me at the misspelling of naive........ You're a little off topic now , it's time to "focus" ! If you are going to keep your head in the game, keep your eyes off the beer cart and look at the pin!!!

Eric, WHAT???!!!!??!! Please tell me you're joking?

If someone is only advertising in the newspaper, they are probably not pushing their website because they most likely do not have one, especially if they are still ONLY advertising in the newspaper!!!

Most agents will adjust with the economy and the market if they are on top of their field (ok not everyone is, in ANY field) However, agents that are utilizing the internet mainly in this market to the best of their ability and driving business to their website are more likely to be on top of things and this market, then agents that are only marketing the obsolete way of print
.
Yes, there appropriate times for both but when 75-82% of the consumers (depends on which measurement method you follow) start their search on the internet, why on earth wouldn't you concentrate your efforts in that larger pool?

Atlfemme, Definitely keep trolling the internet, you are in an ideal position, take your time and go in educated...just like you are doing now! Skip over the listings that are using the obsolete methodology or possibly no methodology at all and you'll find that bargain!

If we stick with Tmans analogy, take your time, line it up, swing smooth and go for the pin!!! Keep your eyes off the beer cart!!!! :-P (just kidding)
2 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Altlfemme, I couldn't agree with you more...

... content and photos aren't just missing on the public websites (like Realtor.com), they're also missing on the MLS... I can't tell you how many times I see a new listing pop up with no photo, and limited description. The major public websites take their feeds from our MLS, and that means that the initial feed to Realtor.com, Trulia, etc... is a listing with limited appeal, that as you point out, will probably be skipped by the consumer.
... good description, plenty of quality photos, and no "puffery".

Good post.
2 votes
Patti Pereyra, , Chicago, IL
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Yes, Altlfemme,

Forgive the hijack.

A consumer's perspective is always invaluable. So you know, the MLS only allows a certain number of characters for the summary, and sometimes it can be difficult to provide all of the perfect information. This is why I always make a graphic flyer and/or a personal property website that can be posted on various areas around the 'net. it allows for more detail.

Thanks again for your perspective.
2 votes
Patti Pereyra, , Chicago, IL
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Tman said Trulia is "supposed to be an exchange between consumers that have questions and consumers looking for "accurate" answers:

Actually, the purpose of Trulia is for consumers to get "Get real estate advice from those in the know", which includes Realtors, Attorneys, Inspectors, and yes, experienced consumers.

However, I would not call advising a consumer to work with an agent who accepts commission "under the table" advise from somebody "in the know". That's illegal, and, Tman, if you're going to continually put down real estate agents, you might want to include those willing to be unethical alongside you.
2 votes
Tman, , 30642
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Good afternoon Atlfemme,

I think you've just been "shilled" by Bg ...

(*Bg - Member since: 01/15/08*) .... I can somehow still see him in the agents office eating a tootsie roll.

This board never stops fascinating me ... it's supposed to be an exchange between consumers that have questions and consumers looking for "accurate" answers ... instead, consumers get hustled along like you just did ...

You had a superb question, it's the same question that 500,000 other buyers ask themselves everyday --- "Are the roof, HVAC, & key systems newer? Is the house 1 story or 2? Stepless entry? Is the lot level or sloped? etc , etc, etc"

Can you get a straight answer..? ~ nope, you get Bg the realtor and he's telling you, you're a looker not a buyer and you're not serious and when you are, you'll let your real estate agent know what, when, where, and how much --- really..? .. is that how that works.? .. hmm, the last time somebody said that to me, I went out and bought a house at Lake Norman the next day and they got zippity-do-dah!

But from what you posted, you're smart ... you've owned a few before so you have at least the basics, you have the credit ability, you're patient and you know what you're looking for - most important, you are not in a hurry - and realtors just hate that, they want you in, out, sold in 5 houses and lets wrap it up .... their motto should be, "in for 5 in for life .... " (old prison term.l.o.l.)

Remember, agents work for you - you don't work for them ... look hard and look long and always negotiate your own deal.


Good luck and happy hunting.!



PS: I'll be waiting in line for a very long time if that's a felony .l.o.l.. ...... wasn't I just reading how California had the biggest consumer protection program for home buyers in the country .. but also has the largest amount of "Beer Battered" realtor contracts in the nation, thats gotta be some long line.

;^)
2 votes
Tman, , 30642
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Get used to it, thats the typical realtor for you ... mostly talk and little action.

I remember when my aunt was getting ready to put her home up for sale in Cleveland 16 months ago and I flew up to help ... she's very old school and she wanted to work with the same agent that sold her that house 21 years ago (bad idea) ...

He felt the house needed "just a few" tiny little fix-me-ups, like a new cover for the storm drain, the patio door needed adjustment and the grass needed cut. (bad idea)

He also priced it $15,000 over market (bad idea) so I quietly listened and laughed, he also mentioned it might take 9 months to sell (not good) .... he committed in writing that the house would get 8 color pictures on a "sunny" day, also the pictures needed to be shot between 10 and 2pm because of the coming of the winter solstice and they would be on the MLS in 10 days or less.

Anyway the pictures showed up 4 weeks later, all 2 of them, and both were in black and white and the description was horrible - how joyous ... his comments were: "he's busy, stuff to do, it's not his job to take pictures, he pays a photographer and his dog died"

What can I say, I shredded the agents contract and waved him bye bye ... 4 hours later I had a photographer there, carpet guys pulling 21 year old carpet and laying in the new stuff and 2 days later the painters came in and sanded and painted 21 year old walls and were done in 3 days ... they even adjusted that patio door.

This time we listed it FSBO and the home sold in 9 weeks ... funny, the buyers agent was her original from 21 years ago - we paid him a flat 2% under the table.

Great pictures and great descriptions get great results -- and bad pictures and bad descriptions get Very Bad results.


Good luck and happy hunting.!
2 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Hi Mary,

Congratulations on your husband's offer - you have your priorty straight there.

I'd be interested in seeing the link to your property.

Yes, I believe in pictures, tag lines and maximum internest exposure. I love it the most when buyers come into my open house because 'they saw the pictures online and just had to come and see it'. Although sometimes depends on the property or condition, it might be difficult to get great pictures, unless you are doing negative marketing where the ad says something like, "Extreme Make Over Required" for a major fixer.

Also, quantity does not replace quality - a grainy, dark picture showing the bathroom with toilet seat cover up might as well not be there. .

Sylvia
1 vote
John Cobb, Agent, Warner Robins, GA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Yes, Pictures are number 1. I think virtual tours are becoming more and more important as well....
1 vote
Atlfemme, Home Buyer, 30066
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Refocusing this thread:

I think Lisa Forss' point hit exactly what I was trying to say:

"The tag line creates the interest,
the pictures create the desire,
the description creates need,
the price creates the value and
seeing it LIVE creates the decision.

Without the first 3, you never know if it was a good value because you'll skim right by the listing. "

The market slide isn't just hard on sellers & real estate pros - it's hard on buyers. Option overload, not knowing if prices will continue to erode, changes to financing rules, political & economic uncertainty... My point still remains: The easier agents make it to find their listings - and to make those listings compelling - the more likely they are to convert this fence-sitter to a buyer.
1 vote
Tman, , 30642
Tue Jan 15, 2008
I'm sorry, you're confused ....

I never said ""under the table" ...... but since you've brought it up, lets chat.

80% of the builders in California, AZ and Nevada are giving 5 to 10% back to realtors to promote their homes and to move some inventory, it goes on in Florida, the Carolinas, Ohio, PA, KS, UT, MS, GA and New York and even (hold your breath) Illinois ......

Now call it what you may, we can call it rebates, we can call it Lucky Charms, we can call it bowling for dollars and we can even call it those "free" granite counter tops in your kitchen -- whatever .... it's no secret, it's been going on for years and even more so now .. you just won't call it what it really is: a kickback .. thats what makes it illegal.


;^)
1 vote
Tman, , 30642
Wed Jan 16, 2008
Lisa,


Well, spelling wasn't one of my finest hours in school .. I was wondering why that spell check light wouldn't go off ..l.o.l....



;^))
0 votes
Tman, , 30642
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Patti,

You must be either very nieve .. or you just sold your house in Tibet 3 weeks ago and you just got here by boat yesterday ...

You need to tell all of those agents that are playing golf in Myrtle Beach or Amelia Island right now that their "activities are supposed to be performed in the name of the real estate company" .l.o.l....

Then you better remind them again come spring with " that the designated agent represents" because a bunch will sitting in those box seats for the next season that they got from their Uncle Jack, or was that Uncle Bob.? ... they come in droves and their broker thinks their week long vacation came from savings or maybe even a gift from their Aunt Lucy - Not.!

Do you really think for a silly second that agents don't lie to their broker...? ... that said, how many times does the broker take a "kicker" and you knew nothing about it and you got zip.? -- it happens everyday.!

Look, I don't have anything against realtors and I never have .. I've done business with agents on and off for almost 25 years and I've bought plenty of properties in spite of them (just kidding!) ...

See, I'm a golfer and I've always compared real estate to the game of golf ....

There's guys I meet everyday and they got the new driver and they have all the new irons, they have the new bag -- and I'll hear how they played this course how they shot par at Pinehurst ... then you get them on the course and their 5 handicap turns into a 25 handicap .... realtors are just like golfers, some are good, some are bad - but most are less than average ... I just don't have to play a round of golf with them to find out. ... the problem is - the consumer does.

Not all of us believe that your industry is surrounded by a bevy of angels or a regiment of saints ... and carrying the big "R" flag is all well and good, but consumers today want you to be more transparent .. it's their money and it's their future - not yours.
0 votes
Mary, Both Buyer And Seller,
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Our home in Vancouver, WA has been on the market since early Sept. I actually wrote the original tag line
"This home offers a great lifestyle! Jacuzzi tub in master, CAT 5 wiring, large backyard with mtn views.."
We weren't getting much traffic with it -- so, I rewrote the tag line
Bikini Bottom, You Tube, Woof. This home welcomes all languages! Lge Mster w/ Jacuzzi tub & separate shower, huge bonus rm, surround sound & CAT5 wiring, lge fenced bkyd w/mountain views. New Union HS, next to Maplecrest nbrhd, new 56AC Pacific Park.
What do all you folks think outthere?? --BTW Bikini Bottom is where Sponge Bob lives --
We are getting traffic now! -- and we know it's a great home in a great location -- we wanted to stay but my husband got an offer from Johns Hopkins University..and we couldn't turn it down.
Mary
0 votes
Eric, Home Buyer, vargas
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Don't begin your search on the internet. Of course you are going to come up with a lot of c*r*a*p online before finding someone. Start with a newspaper. The realtors there will usually have a website you can go to from there.
0 votes
Atlfemme, Home Buyer, 30066
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Bg: You may have a point about "not a buyer yet" - at least by traditional definitions. I'm sitting on the fence - and will be until I see a seriously interesting property. As an empty-nester who finally sold the McMansion a few months ago, with well above average credit and a downpayment in hand, I'm browsing until I spot something that hits all my criteria. I don't need or want my hand held during the search process - and I'm not going to waste anyone's time by engaging prematurely. I owned a home for the past 17 years (13 in one and 4 in the other). I can afford be a renter for another year while the market shakes out - but I'd much rather buy, if I found the right place.

Providing strong, factual listing information & plenty of clear photos is a way to convert me from "fence sitter" to "real live qualified no-nonsense non-contingency buyer". I know what I want; I know what's essential to me vs. 'nice to have'. Maybe I'm a tiny market segment - those capable of buying without an urgent need to buy; not the first time at the rodeo and actually looking for "home" rather than a quick investment. When and if I find a close enough match, I do my internet research, then a drive by. If all of that works out - then, and only then - would I reach out for a realtor. At that point, I've moved into "serious buying" mode.

Like I said, maybe I'm a tiny market segment. But FWIW, while I'm "window shopping", I'm also taking note of local realtors whose listings quickly provide me with essential facts / key data, even if the listing isn't what I want. Those are the realtors who are likely to get a call from me when it's time for me to engage one - because I've already seen that they, too, are "no-nonsense". Realtors who give their clients the bare minimum in a listing - one or no pictures; fluff instead of facts in the description - wouldn't be a good fit for me as a buyer.

I prefer that the description summary include key facts about the structure - for example, things like: New(er) roof, HVAC, hot water heater, stove, windows; size of the lot (not all public records in GA record the lot size); if there is lots of storage; upgraded wiring; close to (whatever - shopping, school, highway); stepless entry; spacious rooms - any and all of these will get my interest far faster than things like "cute as a button!" or "Executive home!" I do understand how to translate these (cute = tiny; executive = large) - but they aren't going to be a part of my keyword searches, nor would they compell me to click through to the listing detail.

Bg, I do appreciate the time you took to respond to my post, as well as your perspective regarding the value of a buyer's agent. I hope my additional perspective provides food for thought as well.
0 votes
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