Last Fall I finally made the decision to put my house on the market and relocate. Since I didn’t know anything about selling a house, I interviewed several local real estate agents. I picked the one that I thought had the best handle on the market and could get my house in front of qualified buyers. But after only two showings in seven months, I started to lose my patience.
I asked the real estate agent what marketing had been done to move my house. I was disappointed to find out that 5 ads in the local newspaper was the extent of the advertising. Now in all fairness, let’s not forget the For Sale Sign that was pitched in my yard or the two open houses that were held. My agent also told me I was on “hundreds” of websites through the MLS listing. But, seven months later, I’m still sitting in my house.
So I decided to do a little online market research and see exactly where on the internet my house was showing up. I was listed on quite a few websites thanks to the MLS listing, but unfortunately, each real estate website that uses the MLS information picks and chooses what data they display. In many cases the image of my house was resized automatically to fit a preset space and ended up looking distorted and stretched. In my opinion, there really wasn’t a lot of information being given to a prospective buyer to get them interested in my house. I also noticed that my real estate agent hadn’t even filled out his own online profile completely. Instead of his personal image being shown, it was just a stock outline of a human head. What kind of a professional image did this portray?
This was the point that I shook my head and thought that I could do I better job myself. After all, I make my living marketing companies and their products online. Could marketing a house online be that different? Besides, five newspapers ads don’t equal thousands of dollars in commission. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and handle the online marketing of my house myself.
The first thing I did was a bit of keyword research to find out exactly what terms prospective buyers in my market were using in their online searches for homes for sale. From this information I picked two url addresses. One url was a popular keyword search that was relevant to my area. The other url was the street address of the house. The street address was shorter and easier to remember, so that’s the one I used in my advertising and on my signage. I set up the urls for one to redirect to the other, so we didn’t run into any duplicate content issues.
Second, I spent some time creating a real estate website for my house, www.531CumberlandSt.com with WordPress and a template from The URL Dr. Now in all honesty, I may have gone a bit overboard with the website in terms of how many pages it ended up being, but the idea was to get prospective buyers excited about the property so that they would schedule a showing through an online form. I gave more information about the house in the website than was given in the MLS listing. I took a lot of pictures and I also added an optimized video to the site, hosted on YouTube. I included beautiful header images of the local area that Bill Merlavage Photography provided to me. I added a blog where I could talk about what was going on in the neighborhood, community activities, updates we were making to the house, open house information, etc. I also included a link to a local mortgage broker who had special financing offers and a program that offered $5,000 toward the closing costs. I included a page for real estate agents with information on a 4% buyer’s commission I was offering and a form they could fill out to obtain marketing materials on the house.
But I didn’t stop with one website. Creating a real estate website especially for mobile devices was an important part of my online marketing plan. I used Toor.me for a mobile real estate website. Now this may sound like a lot of work but the Toor.me site probably only took 10 minutes to put together and was definitely worth it. The site easily allows you to download a printed bullseye that you can add to your exterior signage and flyers. A prospective buyer can scan the bullseye with their mobile phone and my Toor.me real estate website instantly appears. Talk about curb appeal!
Each of the websites give prospective buyers an easy way to contact me to set up an appointment or ask questions. This is key in creating a real estate website. You must make it easy for an interested buyer to schedule a showing. What is your experience with creating a real estate website? What has worked for you? Give us your comments and stick around for the next chapter in our real estate saga, “Can You Sell Your House Using Online Real Estate Marketing?”