8 seconds. That’s the average attention span of a human being and about how long you have to convince potential homebuyers that your property is worth a second glance.
In the time that it takes to change a tire at an IndyCar racing pit stop, an eager house hunter could move on to the next real estate listing or get distracted by a dog meme on Facebook…if they ever lay eyes on your home at all.
Although you now have an enormous opportunity to showcase your house online using big-brand listing aggregators and social media, so does every other seller out there. And since insufficient marketing is one of the main reasons homes don’t sell (second only to overpricing), you should vet your agent’s real estate marketing plan from the get-go.
Then, if you suspect your agent is making any of these real estate marketing mistakes or you have a hard time booking showings, it’s time to strike up a frank conversation to figure out what’s up—or find another agent who can turn things around.
Real estate marketing mistake #1: DIY photos (every listing deserves professional photography!)
“Taking pictures with your iPhone, and imagining you can accomplish your goals and objectives—that’s just not going to cut it,” says Aaron Novello, a top agent in Tamarac, Florida who sells properties 53% faster than average.
“All the eyeballs are online and people are going there before they even call somebody like me.”
While you may be tempted to try and get away with DIY photos, this mistake will cost you more than you’d initially save. Not only will professional photographers have the right equipment (like a tripod and wide-angle lens) and expertise to take amazing real estate photos, a study by the Chicago-based real estate photography company VHT Studios found that homes with professional photography in the listing sold 32% faster than homes without it.
Think of it like a domino effect: bad photos make it difficult to attract buyers…that lull in interest will cause your home to sit on the market…and higher days on market ultimately puts your house at a disadvantage.
This is because homes that linger too long on the market appear “tainted” to buyers who will assume there must be something wrong with it if it hasn’t sold for months on end, likely forcing you to make a price reduction.
So quite literally, in this case, time is money.
Therefore, even your average, run-of-the-mill listings deserve professional photos—you don’t need to have a luxury property for it to make sense.
In most cases, photography should be part of an agent’s overall marketing budget and not an added expense to the seller (in other words, it’s included in the commission you’ll pay at closing). Your agent likely has one or more go-to photographers in their network who they trust to get the job done—feel free to look at some of their past listings to get an idea of what to expect.
But as the property owner, you can take steps to help make sure the photo shoot goes smoothly, too. You’ll need to deep clean, declutter, and schedule your home stagings ahead of time so the house is ready to be photographed. For more tips on how to work with the real estate photographer for your home, review HomeLight’s guide to pulling off the perfect photo shoot.
Real estate marketing mistake #2: Your property listing description is full of errors or repeats basic information.
The listing description (ideally around 50-100 words) is a space to tell your home’s story after you’ve captured a buyer’s attention with stunning photos. The description fills in any gaps that the photos alone can’t convey. It’s like the synopsis on the back of a book cover telling readers what they can expect…while enticing them to find out more for themselves.
With some inspired copy and attention to detail, the listing description is a huge opportunity to convince buyers to book a showing. But not everyone is a poetic genius or even cares enough to use spell check—whatever you do, make sure your agent avoids these listing description blunders.
Bad grammar and misspellings.
A study by Redfin and Grammarly found that 43.4% of home buyers said they’d be much less inclined to schedule a home tour if the property’s online description had improper grammar or misspellings (proof that it’s not just your photos that matter!)
A guide to writing clean listing copy from leading real estate industry news source Inman offers some common spelling mistakes from listings across the web, such as—“stainless steal” (should be: steel), “sneak peak” (should be: peek), “double-pained windows” (should be: double-paned) and “except an offer” (rather than accept).
These little mistakes might seem miner (oops, we mean, minor!) but ultimately have an impact on a buyer’s first impression of your property. Attention to detail matters.
Repeating your basic property information.
On most real estate websites, your listing description appears in the field appearing below or beside your home’s price, address, and key details (like number of beds and baths and square footage).
So don’t waste any precious words of the description repeating information that’s already highly visible in other parts of the listing (or should be). Your agent’s contact details also have no place in the description. Instead, pack this precious space with specifics about the property that aren’t evident in the photos.
Does the master bathroom have a Sinkology clawfoot tub, or luxurious rainfall showerhead? Is your home located in a historic neighborhood? Did your family meticulously maintain this home for three decades? Now’s your chance to put your house in the context of its surroundings and offer buyers a little backstory.
See the contrast in the below two examples:
Listing that repeats basic information:
This beautiful ranch-style home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and sits in the desirable Meadowbrooke neighborhood. Call Kristy at (123) 456-7890 to schedule a showing!
Listing that highlights unique features:
This beautiful ranch-style home sits on a landscaped lot with mature trees in an up-and-coming neighborhood close to the Town Centre Shopping Plaza. Low maintenance perennial hosta plants create a backyard oasis every spring. Mid-century modern details like the low-pitched roof add architectural interest while an open flow between the kitchen and family room creates the perfect space to entertain or gather as a family. The current owners have taken special care of the home since 1988—don’t miss the full master bath remodel with custom touches.
The second description makes much better use of the space with mentions of nearby attractions, a callout to the property’s desirable layout, and an indication of how the home has been cared for.
Inaccuracies and fair housing violations.
You know your house inside and out better than your agent does. It’s your job to work with them on creating an accurate description and provide them with any property surveys, home improvement receipts, and home maintenance records as needed to verify that the listing is as up-to-date as possible.
You also might be surprised to learn that there are legal restrictions on the kind of language you can include in your listing description. The Fair Housing Act prohibits the use of language that could be interpreted as discriminatory against any of the seven protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status.
This means even if you think of your house as “family friendly,” for example, you couldn’t directly target buyers with kids without raising fair housing concerns. Instead, you could highlight the property’s features and attributes, like its positioning in a top school district or extra basement storage.
Real estate marketing mistake #3: Underestimating the power of video.
If professional photos rank as “indispensable,” videos of your home are close behind at “extremely important.”
“Everything online is moving more toward video,” Novello says. “So having professional video of your home is huge.”
While you don’t have to go all out with flyover video shot by a drone—although it certainly won’t hurt—it’s a good idea to invest in a professional video tour or walk-through. This is especially true if your agent is marketing your home on social media, as posts with video generate 1,200 percent more shares than posts without.
Real estate marketing mistake #4: Going soft on social media.
There’s no excuse for failing to post your home listing regularly on social media when the average person spends 116 minutes a day on these channels. It’s just lazy not to.
Your agent or their real estate group should have their own social media profiles on all the top platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, and they should be posting updates for your home regularly and testing different promotions.
Sellers can also market their home this way, by posting their listing on their own platforms and sharing with their networks. Social promotion can be easier when you’ve developed a unique web page (called a single-property website) for your house that you can consistently point buyers to.
Hungry for more social media tips? HomeLight developed a guide to help sellers decide: “Is My Home Getting the Royal Treatment on Social Media?”
Real estate marketing mistake #5: Failing to find the right marketing mix.
90% of buyers search online during their home hunt, but that doesn’t mean that your agent should be tied to a computer all day to execute a digital marketing blitz. Make sure they’ve got the listing up in all the right spots (namely, the MLS, which will then syndicate the listing to Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, etc.) but the plan shouldn’t stop there.
In fact, your agent’s network is perhaps the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. Before your home even hits the market, some agents will post ‘Coming Soon’ listings (so long as there aren’t any rules against it in their market), email their database of agents, and start passing out real estate flyers around the community.
Every home is different, too, and therefore requires its own marketing strategy. Although 63% of agents don’t recommend open houses, your unique property in your city’s most up-and-coming neighborhood could be the perfect candidate for foot traffic.
The bottom line is that even in today’s internet age, finding the right marketing mix between online and offline channels could make all the difference. Chat with your agent about what would work best for your specific property, and create a game plan that makes sense for your house and neighborhood.