I was chatting to a lady the other day when she asked me for advice on what to do with her property. Her home had been on the market for nearly two years, she was onto her third real estate agent and fifth price reduction. They were not getting interest and were frustrated that 'nothing was happening'.
"It sounds to me like the property had got stale" I said. "What", she replied "it's not a loaf of bread, what does that mean?" I explained to her that when a property has been on the market for some time buyers tend to assume there is some problem with the property and move on to other newer listings. The offering has got hard, crusty, and unappealing. But, all is not lost. Just like you can nuke that stale loaf of bread with the microwave you can quickly update and refresh the marketing of your property (for anyone actually interested see below for how to freshen up that loaf!). So it's time to refresh things, time to re-present the property to potential buyers.
So, what did I tell her:
- Photos - are they professionally done? If not, spend that money now. If the photos are in good shape, change them around, chose a different main photo and change the subsequent order around. The normal rule-of-thumb is front of house, living room, kitchen, master bedroom, bathroom, back of house, then it does not really matter. Add more photos - you can never really add too many (just don't repeat them), even if Trade Me restricts you to 20.
- Title and description. Change it, jazz it up, focus on the benefits of living there (kids cricket on the back lawn) rather than just features (number of bedrooms). Avoid signals that invite the buyer to take advantage, you know the ones - "all offers considered", "forget all previous price indications", "beat the bank".
- Presentation - make sure the home is shining, fix those nasty little visible items like doors and windows, make sure the grounds are tidy. Inside, make it clean, clear and professional.
- Marketing - time to do something different, get noticed. If you haven't been doing Open Homes, consider starting them. If you have been try some different tactics - the drive-time open home, the neighbour viewing etc. An online featured listing should be high on the list of things to do. Of course I took her through some of the things we do differently, including our blog features and networking through social media tools, complimenting traditional offline and internet marketing techniques.
- Price - she was aware that the property had followed the market down - time tends to degrade price. So my advice was to price it competitively for todays market as part of that re-positioning and to be objective and unemotional when doing that.
And, finally, I advised her not to get despondent. She had a great property in a good area. Patience is sometimes required, but I was confident that pricing to be 'in' the market not just 'on' the market, and agressively refreshing the marketing of the property would deliver results.
For those that really want to know (is there anyone?), here is how to save that stale load of bread, courtesy of eHow:
- Moisten a paper towel with water, milk, or soy milk.
- Wrap the bread in the paper towel.
- Place bread on a microwave-safe platter.
- Heat in the microwave on high for 15 seconds.
- Remove from the microwave and unwrap the bread to see if it is moist enough. If not, repeat for another 15 seconds, or until you are pleased with the results.
What other refresh ideas would you suggest?