Every real estate agent knows that marketing their listings effectively is key to helping their buyers and sellers close on their dream home or sell an existing one. We’ve created 12 steps that you can use to design a real estate listing marketing plan that leads to success. This means more homes sold and more homes bought—and an increase in referrals that will boost your business.
The steps below are a sure-fire way to increase awareness for your listings:
1. Take Professionally Staged Photos
When listing a home, your most valuable marketing assets are photographs of the home and its amenities. This is because the human brain can process images significantly faster than words. You want to show the buyers that the home they are purchasing is worth every dollar per square foot. Therefore, when setting your budget for listing a home, cutting corners for photography is not an option—you need to hire a professional.
However, not just any professional photographer will do. The professional you hire should have experience with real estate. When interviewing photographers, ask them how they capture the essence of a home. Listen for things like how they use lighting to make the home look inviting, or how they highlight the home’s amenities.
The day before pictures are taken of your listing, make an appointment with the seller to walk through the property to make sure the home is picture-ready. For example, you should make sure that pet items are not out where they might get captured in pictures, dishes are not in the sink, garbage has been emptied from visible garbage cans, yards are mowed, and toilet seats are down.
Pro tip: You don’t have to wait until the day before the photographer arrives to advise sellers on ways they can make a good first impression. The company that I hire also has a printed outline that I give to my sellers to follow in advance of picture day.
2. Create a Video Tour
Video used to be an optional piece of a listing’s marketing plan. However, as more and more buyers prefer to screen properties online before contacting an agent, having a listing video that takes the buyer on a tour of the home, starting at the front door and continuing through all rooms to the outdoors, has become an essential marketing idea.
That said, it is not enough to simply upload hastily shot video from your smartphone to YouTube. You want the buyer to feel emotions and a need to want to physically see the home while viewing the tour. One way to do this is to include music in the background or a possible narrative of the tour. If the home is vacant, it is also possible to virtually stage the home with digital furniture in videos to let the potential buyer see each room’s potential.
While you can film a video tour of a listing yourself, it is generally worth the expense to use a professional service like Asteroom, which can generate a 3D virtual tour in minutes. However, you should also check to see if the photographer you use to take your listing photos offers this service at an additional charge. This way, you will be able to purchase multiple options in a package deal, potentially at a reduced rate.
3. List the Home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
I like to share that as real estate agents, we are only as good as the tools that we use. One of the most crucial and important tools for our sellers is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), where all listings are posted for sale. The MLS then broadcasts your listing to multiple sites like public access websites, Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin, Trulia, and others.
Depending on how your MLS is formatted, advertising a home’s specific features or amenities can be as simple as checking a box. However, you’ll also want to highlight a property’s best-selling points in your description. We have created a list of words you can use to capture the attention of potential buyers in your listings; just be sure that what you say in the description is a truthful representation of a property.
The MLS also allows you to upload pictures when you create a listing. You want to upload as many pictures as is allowed. However, please note that some pictures may not transfer over when your listing gets picked up by outside websites.
Some of these outside websites offer additional services you can use to advertise your listing once they have received the initial information from the MLS. For example, Zillow’s Premier Agent program gives you a free agent profile that you can use to increase your professional brand, along with ways to boost your listings visibility on Zillow, Trulia, and StreetEasy. You can learn more about how to use this service in our article on Zillow Premier Agent advertising.
4. Install a For Sale Sign With Flyer Box
You should only perform this step if you have permission from the seller to post the sign and flyer box on the property. This request should be addressed at the time you take the listing and documented in your listing agreement.
If your seller is comfortable with posting a for sale sign at their property, it is a great way to advertise to buyers and neighbors that a home is for sale. As an aside, it also is a great marketing tool and opportunity for company branding for you as a listing agent.
When the sign company places the sign at the property, ask them to include a flyer box. Again, this should only be done with the permission of the seller. This will then allow you to add printouts with additional information and pricing of the home, using a real estate flyer template, that visitors can share with potential buyers. Ask the seller to tell you when flyers get low. You never want to have an empty flyer box at your listing.
5. Create Brochures & Additional Flyers
The amenities and sales price of your listing will determine if it makes economic sense to produce multipage brochures designed to be given out at showings in addition to single 8×10-inch page information sheets that can be placed in the flyer box or flyer stand. In either case, you should use good quality cardstock or glossy paper. This will not only make your materials appear more professional, it will also keep the edges from curling.
No matter what you choose, remember that these print materials are to advertise the home and all of its attractive attributes, not you as the listing agent. While your contact information and picture should be on print material, it should be placed in a small corner on the bottom right or left so you don’t create distractions from the home you are hoping to sell. Additionally, consider consulting with your broker, office manager, or attorney on verbiage that is allowed.
6. Post Listings on Your Personal & Company Website
Another way to provide additional exposure to your listing is to post the home on your own professional or company website in addition to relying solely on sites like Zillow for traffic. This provides you with greater control over what images are featured and can make it easier for your potential buyers to find your listings on social media.
There are a number of website builders on the market that can help you showcase all of your listing’s potential. Some of these even have additional marketing tools built-in, like mortgage calculators, or features that can help you manage incoming leads, like contact forms. Check out our article on the top real estate website builders for our recommendations.
7. Share Listings on Social Media Platforms
While most MLS have a way to post your listing directly from your MLS to social media platforms, some are more social media-conscious than others. For example, the MLS that I have access to also has a process for me to put my listings on Facebook, but additional steps are required to add listings on other social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
In my experience, Facebook is my go-to social media platform. I frequently conduct live videos of my listings as part of my social media outreach. The trick is to keep your videos short and engaging. If you are hesitant to record a video because it isn’t perfect, remember practice makes perfect. The more you do them, the better you will get at making them. You can also attach these videos to an email campaign that advertises the listing.
If you aren’t sure what to post about on social media, a service like ParkBench can give you information about local trends or news worth commenting on. Just be sure to always keep your audience in mind and only share what is relevant to your listing’s potential buyers. It’s also a good idea to consider creating a business page on Facebook or a separate professional account on the other platforms if you don’t want to risk mixing business and personal posts.
Whether you use Facebook or one of the other platforms, always inform your seller that you are going to be posting their home on social media platforms. This should be discussed at the time you first meet with the seller to give your listing presentation.
8. Host Open Houses
Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 environment is preventing agents from holding open houses in many states. However, when conditions improve and open houses are allowed again, it is a great way to show your seller’s home to a broad audience. This is because a prominently displayed open house sign not only gives potential buyers a reason to stop and tour a home, a well-attended event can make it clear a property is desirable, which encourages top offers.
Even if a visitor ultimately decides not to make an offer, hosting open houses is a great way to network and generate future business. I use a sign-in sheet to capture the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the visitors, and contact those who are not represented by an agent to thank them for stopping by. I also make sure to have takeaway items such as pens, notepads, and calendars with my contact information.
Open houses do represent potential safety hazards. You should always familiarize yourself with your broker’s safety protocol for agents before holding one. For example, as the broker of my office, I require all agents to have another associate present with them during the open house. My agents are also required to take a real estate agent-approved safety class where information can be used during open houses and when showing property.
At minimum, it is a good idea to follow the recommendations of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which strongly suggests you not host open houses alone. This means that each agent should pair with another agent or lender during each event. For more information, check out our article on how to host a real estate open house for more tips.
9. Send Just Listed Postcards
Putting a new listing on the market is the perfect time to get a postcard out to your database and the neighborhood. You can either produce these postcards yourself or have them created professionally. By mailing these postcards to your database, you may discover a client who is looking for a property to purchase, or the client may know someone they can pass the information on to.
You can also send these postcards to the seller’s neighborhood, as a neighbor can potentially know of a buyer who would like to live in the same area. Even if they don’t have a potential buyer in mind, the “just listed” postcard builds your credibility, which could bring you future business much quicker than anticipated.
Your brokerage may provide you with a number of postcards, however, so if you need to print your own, consider visiting ProspectsPLUS!, which specializes in real estate postcards, brochures, and other marketing materials. They can even help you automate the process by helping you create targeted mailing lists and scheduled campaigns, which can save you a trip to the post office.
10. Leverage Your Network
As a real estate agent, you need to embrace that you are a walking billboard. Each day you leave the office and go off into the community, you need to embrace that you are a mouthpiece for your sellers. Every person you come across through your travels can be a potential buyer or seller. I can assure you that when people know you are a real estate agent, they will automatically ask you how the market is and what the current interest rates are.
You should also be attending your local association marketing meetings to announce your new listings to other real estate agents. During these meetings, you will also be sharing information with local lenders, title officers, and inspectors. Everyone knows someone looking for a home.
Pro tip: When taking a new listing, you should also leverage the other relationships you have. You may belong to community groups or other professional organizations where you can share your new listing information. The most valuable group that sometimes we fall short sharing information with is our friends and family. When taking a listing, I like to use a checklist to remind me of the steps that I need to follow.
11. Follow Up
Marketing a listing is an on-going process. While it is always great to be able to add a secondary sign, or rider, to a for sale sign that boasts a home sold in one or two days, the process can take several days—if not weeks. Periodically check on your listing description to see if it can be improved, work your network, and update flyers as needed. Most importantly, promptly follow up with leads who have expressed interest.
One way to stay on top of leads is to use a client database, like a customer relationship management system. An example of this is LionDesk, which not only helps you keep contact information organized, but also includes things like tools for text and email campaigns, a power dialer, and a Facebook ad management integration. It also has a free trial so you can try it for yourself.
12. Promote Your Results
Once you have listed, marketed, and closed your listing, it’s time to let everyone know about your success. Sending out just sold postcards featuring your recent listing is a great way to finish the process while letting everyone in your network know that your listing has sold. This mailing campaign can potentially bring new business and listings to you.
Additionally, don’t miss an opportunity to be recognized for a job well done by forgetting to post about the closed home on your social media platforms, provided you have permission from the seller to do so. Posting a closed home also demonstrates your ability to start and complete a task.
There is no better time than the present to sharpen your skills and be successful as a listing agent. With the present shortage of homes, great demand from buyers to purchase, and historical low interest rates, you must demonstrate to the seller what skills set you apart from your competition—the other listing agents. Today is the day for you to “get up and show up” as a successful listing agent.