The key to selling your home for a fair price, within a reasonable amount of time, is to get it in front of buyers. With 89 percent of buyers using the Internet during their searches, and more than half starting their searches there, it's more important than ever to develop a marketing strategy that addresses the way buyers use online resources in the homebuying process.
Create Visual Appeal
Photos and video tours are important tools for selling your home online. You may have to include links to videos you post on a video-sharing site, but the photos will appear directly in your online listings. The more you have, the better. Many buyers do their online research using mobile devices, so it's important that images be sharply focused and well lit so they look good on small screens.
When it comes to generating interest in your home, accurate details are a must. Be as objective as you can when you write your description. Overselling may attract more contacts from buyers, but most lose interest the moment they realize the home isn't what they'd expected. In addition to basic home features such as number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, and the presence of a garage, include such desirable features as a beautiful yard, proximity to public transportation, or location in an excellent school district, if those attributes apply. Buyers don't just purchase a house; location and lifestyle are important parts of the package.
Accurate pricing is the most important factor in a successful sale. You can hire a real estate agent to prepare a comparable market analysis that suggests a selling price, or you could have your home appraised and use the market value as a guide. Consumer websites that purport to tell you your home's value may be useful if you live in a larger city, but those estimates are often wildly inaccurate in outlying areas.
Social media sites give you the opportunity to interact with buyers in the places where they spend free time. Tweet about your home's standout details, and use hashtags for your hometown to help people find your posts. Create a Facebook page for your home, share it with your contacts, and ask your contacts to like the page so their contacts see it as well. A major benefit of posting your home on Facebook is that you can promote your page, or an individual post on the page, to an extremely well targeted group of users for very little money.
List on the Multiple Listing Service
Eighty-nine percent of online home shoppers use a real estate agent at some point in their search. Most agents don't use by-owner websites to look for homes for their buyers, but nearly all search the multiple listing service where they post their own listings. As a bonus, multiple listing service systems often syndicate listings to the major consumer real estate sites. Multiple listing service systems usually ban listings from unrepresented sellers, but you may be able to find a member broker that provides à la carte brokerage services. These brokers charge a flat fee for submitting your listing to the service and for handling such administrative duties as changing the price or the listing status as needed.
Utilize Consumer Platforms
Free and low-cost listing sites make it possible to showcase your home using a number of different platforms. Online classifieds, auction sites and sale-by-owner sites are popular choices for owners selling their homes themselves. Some of the major real estate portals that used to list broker-represented homes exclusively now also allow private owners to list their own homes. In addition to attracting huge numbers of buyers, these sites rank high in search engine results for the search terms most prospective buyers use to find information about real estate -- a city name followed by such phrases as "homes for sale" and "real estate." To boost visibility even further, many portal sites allow you to pay to have your listing show near the beginning of relevant search results.
- Realtor.org: Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate
- MSN: 4 Smarter Ways to Sell Your Home Online
- Bankrate.com: Selling Solo? Here's How to Do It Right
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images