Christina T. Allen
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Los Gatos Weekly-Times

  July 21, 2004     Los Gatos, California Since 1881

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Sellers hire Realtors to market their homes

By Jean Newton

There is more to selling a home than most people realize, and that's where a Realtor adds value. In addition to taking care of all the numerous details associated with a transaction, Realtors provide the marketing expertise necessary to generate the best exposure when selling a home.

"A seller hires a Realtor because he is a professional and trusts that he will do the best job he can to properly market their home. Counseling the home seller on what needs to be done to market their home is the first step," said Dennis Byron of Byron and Associates and chairman of the Los Gatos ­Saratoga District of Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Byron usually walks through a home with the sellers and advises them on what needs to be done. Depending on the condition of the home, he suggests several professional services such as gardeners, stagers, contractors and inspectors. Then he takes on the task of readying the home for the market by coordinating the ensemble of professionals.

"Once the house is ready for the market, it is necessary to decide what media is best for the situation. The Multiple Listing Service is the No. 1 way to sell a home. Over 90 percent of homes are sold through the Multiple Listing Service," Byron said.

Of course, the home must be available and easy to show to clients, so Byron believes a lockbox is a must. "Buyers are an impatient lot and will not wait to see a house 24 hours later if there is one available to see now. A true professional will call first, but knows the buyer will not wait 24 hours," he said.

When it comes to advertising, Byron recommends local advertising as the next best media after the Multiple Listing Service, especially if the home is affordable. He doesn't like ads that showcase the Realtor, but feels the advertising should showcase the home. If the house is in the upper end of the market, more advertising is warranted, and Byron likes to use international publications or national and international newspapers.

"I also like CDs as the new wave of showcasing a home. However, if it is a foreign market, you need to consider the technical capabilities. I once made my video on a PAL format rather than a VCR to send to the British buyers on a Cotswold Tutor home in Hillsborough," Byron said.

Open houses can be a way to impress the seller, but are at the bottom of the scale when it comes to selling your home, said Byron. "It is a good way for a Realtor to pick up clients, but is a poor way to sell the home. At an open house you are showing your home to the neighbors and dozens of unqualified buyers."

Byron advises showing homes only to pre-approved buyers. He suggests sellers vacate their home on weekends when most of the showings are done to let the Realtor show the home in the best light possible.

Realtor Christina Allen, broker/owner of Signature Realty in Cupertino, said Realtors sometimes differ in their opinion about the value of open houses.

"We believe that it is our responsibility to make the property available to as many interested persons as possible. Our Realtors are willing to be available on the weekend to answer questions that prospective buyers have regarding our listing. We hold open houses as often as necessary to sell our client's home, but because we do a good job of marketing, we often sell the home at our first open house."

Allen believes clients should expect their Realtor to provide them with a good marketing plan, including proposals on how to market the property, professional brochures, and advice on how to present the home and to whom their home is marketed, including both Realtors and buyers. Allen mentions using traditional methods such as open houses and marketing meetings as well as the more updated methods of using emails, online open houses and virtual tours.

"Effective marketing means that the home is professionally presented to the largest number of people," Allen said. "Professional marketing means that the Realtors should take time to prepare a good brochure, flier or plan that is aimed at the general public as well as to Realtors. It is important to remember that for every home a buyer or seller sees, a Realtor has seen many more. A trusted Realtor can do a much better job of marketing a seller's home than a seller can."

In addition to using open houses, the Multiple Listing Service, broker tours, color fliers that can be emailed or Internet open houses, Allen thinks virtual tours are one of the best marketing tools currently available.

"The decision for a buyer to see a property is quickly enhanced when a prospective buyer views a virtual tour. We invite everyone to 'walk through' the home by taking a virtual tour," Allen said. "This is a great service for buyers, because it allows them to qualify their interest in a certain home. It's also great for the sellers, because they know that the people who come to see their home after viewing it on virtual tour are people who are more interested in the property than those who have not seen it."

Allen defines marketing as doing "anything we can do to promote the selling of our clients' property in the shortest time and for the best price. That means we promote the property to the real estate community, we prominently advertise on the Internet, and we inform the neighbors, our personal contacts and our affiliates."

Next week: What can be expected from a Realtor when marketing a home and how the disclosure process plays an important role in the process.  

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