It’s the plight of many sellers: you put your house on the market and figured that a listing would naturally translate to steady showings. But activity has been much slower than you’d hoped, or maybe after a rush of tour requests early on, you’ve entered a worrisome lull period. Meanwhile, your days-on-market tracker keeps ticking up, and you know that with every passing hour, your listing gets staler.
“If you’re in a desirable area, and you’re not getting showings, 9 times out of 10, there’s one of two things wrong: the pictures aren’t any good, or you thought you priced it right but you didn’t,” says Keith Degnan, a top agent in the Toledo, Ohio, area, speaking from two decades of selling homes.
It’s time to take a closer look at your competition and how you’re pitching your house to the public so that you can turn this situation around. Here are 7 tips for how to get more house showings, starting with how to present your home at its best.
1. Check your listing photos — do they look professional?
Smartphone photos are fine for selfies and vacation shots, but they put your home at a disadvantage. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 ‘Real Estate in a Digital Age’ report, homebuyers across all generations rank listing photos as the no. 1 most valuable aspect of real estate websites in their search for a home online.
If you think about it, the last step most homebuyers take before requesting a showing is flipping through that photo carousel of your house on the internet — if you aren’t getting showings, poor photos could be the culprit. “The first showing is online,” Degnan confirms.
“If you’re not getting showings, people are looking at your house online and deciding they don’t want to see it.”
A professional photographer will know how to light your home, show off the spaces that buyers most want to see (living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, and bath), and advise you if any areas look too cluttered on camera. A real estate photo shoot can cost about $110 to $300, but your agent will likely include photography as part of their service package — and it’s money well spent. One study by the Chicago-based real estate photography company VHT Studios found that homes with professional photography in the listing sold 32% faster than those without such photos.
2. Declutter and stage any rooms that need it
Let’s say your photos were taken by a professional photographer, but your house wasn’t photo-ready. It might be worth talking to your agent about reconfiguring key rooms and taking fresh photos of any spaces that aren’t doing the home justice.
Perhaps it’s as simple as removing some furniture or hiding a few ugly items (file cabinets, unsightly cords, or knick-knacks on the counter) to help your house photograph better. Another option called soft staging adds artwork and decorative accents to keep the eye moving and highlight a room’s features.
You can also talk to your agent about using virtual staging apps and software, where you doctor photos of each room digitally with computer-generated furnishings, wall colors, and more. If you go the virtual staging route, make sure to follow best practices like marking the MLS images as virtually staged so buyers aren’t surprised to see something different in person. (You want to stoke buyers’ imaginations, not trick them.)
3. Tidy the landscaping
Improving your home exterior can boost showing activity in two ways: first, it can entice more potential buyers who might drive or walk by and see the for-sale sign in the yard. In addition, great curb appeal can drastically enhance your home’s exterior listing shots which will be some of the first images buyers see before checking out the interior.
Degnan remembered one client whose giant tree in the front yard took up most of the listing photos. “There was no good angle to get a picture,” he says. “I told the seller, ‘Let’s cut the tree,’ and it sold.”
More than 94% of the agents surveyed in HomeLight’s Q2 2019 Top Agent Insights report say curb appeal adds to your bottom line — and entices buyers from the moment they see the house.
Landscaping doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. Mowing a lawn weekly can cost about $25 to $85, depending on acreage. Mulching runs about $200 to $500, and trimming one tree costs about $250 to $500, according to HomeGuide.com.
A maintained landscape subtly tells buyers that you’ve taken good care of the inside of the house, too.
4. Tell a story in your listing
Although the MLS (or Multiple Listing Service) might have a limited number of characters for your agent to describe your home’s features, there’s no need for it to be dry.
“Your listing needs to be descriptive, warm, and inviting,” Degnan says. “Get people to picture themselves living there.”
Don’t jump into statistical data such as square footage or the number of bedrooms and baths; that’s already in the listing’s data fields.
Rather, focus on the upgrades — brand names matter more than a generic “new HVAC” — and tell potential buyers a story. Instead of “back porch,” for instance, describe how your large porch has room for lounge chairs or a bistro table for enjoying your morning coffee or relaxing on summer evenings.
Also, ask your agent to compare your home’s description against those of comparable properties. What can you promote to make your home stand out? If you have a large family room or master bedroom, highlight the spaciousness.
Are you the only one in the neighborhood with a patio? Mention it!
What about the possible negatives to address? If there’s something you can’t change, like being near a busy street, what else can you emphasize, such as proximity to dining, entertainment, and transportation?
5. Drum up interest on social media
Consider hosting a virtual open house on Facebook Live, where you or your agent can interact with viewers and answer questions.
On Instagram, share your best listing photos and use relevant hashtags so your home pops up when people search for homes for sale in a certain area, suggests the online advertising software platform WordStream. Instagram also has video ads as well as a carousel format where viewers can flip through several pictures like browsing through a catalogue.
6. Host an open house with feedback
Whether you host a traditional open house or a broker’s open house — one solely for real estate agents to talk up your home to their clients — be sure to get feedback from attendees. Although 63% of agents don’t always recommend open houses as a way to sell your home, an open house is an opportunity to collect honest feedback about your home’s pluses and minuses. Then you’ll know better what to highlight in your marketing and what to address.
Your agent can provide a digital or paper questionnaire that asks people about their first impressions, what they liked most about the property — and what they disliked. (Find a sample questionnaire here.) If several people liked the open layout of the kitchen, that’s a selling point. Likewise, if several said the rooms seemed small, can you repaint, declutter some more, and rearrange the furniture for better traffic flow and more of a spacious feeling?
7. Evaluate your price
We understand that this is one option you might not want to face. Homeowners want top dollar when selling their homes, and they tend to worry that buyers might think there’s something wrong with the house if they lower the price.
“They say, ‘Oh, people are going to think I’m desperate and I’m going to give the house away.’ But at the current price, they’re saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’” Degnan says.
Even though your agent will have researched other sales in your area, your current price might not be keeping pace with market conditions.
Reducing the price — say, from $250,000 to $225,000 — reaches a new level of buyers, Degnan says. It also adds to your marketing plan because buyers always stop to read the ads that say, “Price reduced,” he says.
Agents often say there’s a buyer for every house. If your listing hasn’t generated a lot of showings, you just haven’t found the right buyer yet (or how to reach them). Talk with your agent about your next steps so that prospective buyers are soon beating a path to your door.
Header Image Source: (Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels)