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Advertising That Works

Certain types of advertising are extremely effective. Others, while popular, are big wastes of time and money. The key to selling your house for top dollar -- even in a dismal market -- is simple: Implement a broad-based campaign to generate spirited buyer competition for your property. Advertising is not a cure-all. Glitzy advertising won't sell a house that's in terrible condition, poorly marketed, and overpriced, to boot. The following sections describe the most effective types of advertising:

  • For Sale sign: This is without a doubt, the single most effective way to tell folks looking for a home in your area that your property is on the market. Real estate brokers know that sign calls (people calling to get more information about a house after they see the For Sale sign) are far more likely to result in a sale than ad calls (people calling about property they read about in an ad). When ad callers find out the location of the property, the style of the house or some other basic fact they would have already known if they actually saw the property from the street, they more often than not reject it. Sign callers, on the other hand, obviously like the neighborhood and at least the property's exterior; they have a higher probability of being serious buyers.
  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS): The (MLS) is operated by local real estate brokers who all pool their listings so that information about property listed by any MLS member is immediately available to all participating members. Brokers and agents enter new listings into the computerized database as soon as the listing contract is signed. Price changes and sales are also same-day entries. In most places, nonmembers (that is, the public) can't put property into an MLS. An MLS listing gives your property wide exposure to a potent pool of market-educated buyers currently working with all other MLS members.
  • Listing statement: This data sheet, also called a property statement, is given to people who tour your property on Sunday open houses or people who are shown through your house by appointment. Listing statements are very effective point-of-purchase ads containing more information than you can put into a newspaper ad or an MLS listing. This sheet offers you a chance to wax poetic about the special features of your property.
  • Hot buttons: People don't buy houses. They buy hot buttons and the house tags along. Hot buttons vary from one house to the next. Gourmet kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, sensuous bedrooms, working fireplaces, panoramic views, and lovely gardens are turn-ons. So are huge, walk-in closets -- no one ever has enough closet space. In densely populated metropolitan areas, garages can sell houses.
  • Online services: In addition to the computerized multiple listing service, leading brokers now have Internet Web sites that they use to advertise their listings. This allows them to show multiple photographs, virtual tours and to help buyers more efficiently find properties. With more than half of all buyers beginning their research on the Internet, this is increasingly an important advertising medium for your house.
  • Word of mouth: This advice sounds so darn primitive coming right after computers, but networking is an extremely effective form of targeted advertising. Tell people you know -- friends, business associates, folks who go to your church, club members, and especially your neighbors that your house is for sale. Make a point of inviting your friends and neighbors to your first open house. Who knows? One of them may have a pal who would love to buy your house.