Monday, March 15, 2010

Is Print Advertising Dying?

One of the hot questions in real estate is this: “Is print advertising dying?” While many think so, I don’t. What is dying is “traditional” advertising. What’s the difference?

Traditional advertising is more of a mindset rather than a medium. Take the standard glossy real estate magazine. It will have 48 pages of ads from different Realtors, each page filled with a small photo of a home and 20 words or so of text. The debate rages about whether addresses should be added or withheld in order to get the buyer prospect to call the Realtor. Can a small photo and 20 words of text, address or not, really help to sell a house?

Similarly, many agents use a local real estate cable channel to advertise their listings. Ours uses 3 photos and a 21 second voiceover. Certainly 3 photos are better than 1, but could you adequately describe your home in those confines?

I practice “Non-Traditional Traditional Marketing,” a concept I’ve developed to use traditional media in a non-traditional way. With the advent of the internet, I can use a traditional newspaper ad, a Home Magazine ad, or a real estate cable ad to direct potential buyers to a custom website of your home, where we have all the time and space and photos and floor plans and virtual tours and voice-overs…anything we want to tell buyers about your home, we can tell them! And all beginning with one photo, a couple of selling features, and a web address in a print or broadcast advertisement. Heck, I can put more information about your home, via a web site address, on the back of a business card than a “traditional” Realtor can put in a full page magazine ad!

So the question is, “What kind of mindset do you have?” Are you happy with “traditional” real estate marketing, or do you and your home deserve cutting edge, “Extreme Marketing?” I’d love to visit with you and share more of the difference.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do a Floor Plan; Make Your Client Say “Wow”!

One of the first questions buyers often ask after seeing photos of a house is, “What’s the floor plan like?” A custom 3-D Floor Plan answers that question, and makes buyers say “Wow!”

A 3-D Floor Plan enables a buyer to “move into” your home; they can assign rooms, move their furniture in, and envision a lifestyle – family dinners, birthday parties, barbeques with friends, etc. It lets them see how the individual rooms fit together to form an organic “whole.” And it provides a great outline on our web sites and our flyers…

Every listing I serve has a flyer box out front filled with dual-sided flyers printed on glossy, extra-heavy paper, and featuring full-color photos, a floor plan of the home on the back, and key selling features. The best part of the flyer, though, is the web address to the property’s custom website, where potential buyers can get every last view and detail of your home. Many buyers have started viewing my websites on their internet-connected smart phones from inside their cars in front of the home after getting the website off a flyer from the flyer box.

A 3-D Floor Plan serves as a great tour guide on my custom property websites. When buyers hit the site, they see the layout of your home, and as they click on each room of the floor plan, they are presented with a slide show displaying the room from every angle, and focusing on the special features of the room. At the same time an audio track shares the special features and unique charms of the room. (For an example, go to

As buyers view all of the photos, the virtual tours, and the floor plan, and as they hear of the special features of your home on the audio track, their hearts and minds are engaged, and they will begin to see the value in your home that you see. Then they will be more likely to pay the price you want for your home.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Update on Humboldt County Residential Sales

I just shared statistics for sold residential real estate in Humboldt County, California, and it seems that prices, both average and median, are plummeting. Is this really the case, or are there some anomalies or structural changes affecting purchase price?

A while back I explained the different layers of homes available in the Humboldt County market, and how each is responding to the different economic conditions in the marketplace. (see You might recall that I divided the segment into 5 key layers.

          2009 Humboldt County Housing Market Segments
• Fixers –                 up to $225,000           24% of the market
• Starters -     $225,000 - $275,000           31.3% of the market
• Mid-range - $275,000 - $400,000           29.7% of the market
• Executive -   $400,000 - $500,000             8.2% of the market
• Luxury -       $500,000 and up                    6.8 % of the market

As I explored the details of our Humboldt County market for January and February 2010, I discovered the following details:

Jan-Feb, 2010 Humboldt County Housing Market Segments
• Fixers –                    up to $225,000           41% of the market
• Starters -        $225,000 - $275,000            15.2% of the market
• Mid-range -    $275,000 - $400,000            32.4% of the market
• Executive -      $400,000 - $500,000              4.8% of the market
• Luxury -          $500,000 and up                     6.7 % of the market

The huge movement from the “Starter” segment of the market into the “Fixer” segment, as well as the significant drop in “Executive” homes sold, are the best explanations for the significant change in average and median home sale prices in the first 2 months of 2010. So, rather than seeing this new data as the beginnings of a new slide in real estate prices, I’m thinking it’s an anomaly in the market, one that will be corrected over the coming months. It sure does emphasize the opportunity for killer deals in the bottom segments of our market, though!

Monday, March 1, 2010

You Trust Your Realtor, but for What?

When I visit with people about selling real estate, they often tell me that the number one factor in working with their Realtor is trust; they’ve had a relationship with their Realtor for many years, and they trust him. I always want to ask, “What are you trusting him to do?”

Most people mean that they trust their Realtor to deal with them honestly and to look out for their best interests. And I agree! Integrity is the number one criteria I recommend that clients look for as they search for a new agent. Without it there is no basis for any business relationship. Clients must have confidence that their agent is putting their best interest ahead of the agent’s own desire for a paycheck.

But, I have never met a Realtor that said up front, “I’m not trustworthy, and I will put my own paycheck ahead of your best interest any day!” Every agent sees themselves as having integrity, or at least wants you to see them that way. You can get a glimpse into the true trustworthiness of an agent by looking at other things they do.

Can you trust your agent to go above and beyond the call of duty in marketing your property? Almost any agent will take a half dozen photos for the MLS and put a sign in the yard. Will he put 30 or 40 photos? From the inside and outside of your home? Will he put a virtual tour together, so buyers can walk through your home at their convenience? Will he put a flyer box on the property, filled with custom flyers to show the selling features of your home? Will he produce a 3-D floor plan for the back of the flyers, so buyers can see the layout of your home? Will he make a custom website for your home? And will he advertise it on the internet, on cable, and in local print publications? Will he hold an open house for your home? Can you trust that your agent is giving your home a competitive advantage next to other homes for sale on the market? If he’s willing to work this hard to service your listing, you can probably trust him to look out for your financial best interests, too.  (For samples of some of the items above, go to

Can you trust your agent to give you a weekly update on the sale of your home? One of the most common complaints I hear from clients about Realtors is that they don’t ever tell the client what’s going on. Can you trust your agent to call with showing feedback? Can you trust him to e-mail you new, competitive listings that come on the market? Can you trust him to update your competitive market analysis with the most recent sold comparables in the MLS? And when an offer comes in, can you trust your agent to tell you how low of a price is too low, rather than trying to sell you an offer just because it’s going to close quickly?

Trust in an agent is of supreme importance, but what are you trusting them for? Get a written guarantee for the concrete, specific things he is going to do for you, and trust him for those, as well as his integrity. If you can’t trust him to do the concrete, specific things required to sell your home, can you really trust him to look out for your best interests over their own paycheck?