4 Mistakes Agents Need to Avoid When Listing a Property


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Whether you’re a new agent or have been in the field for years, you know very well that the real estate market can be incredibly competitive. With so many properties for sale at any given moment, the key to success is to create a listing that really stands out. But, while it’s important to know what goes into a good listing, in many cases, it’s just as important to understand what not to do.

Here are four common pitfalls faced by listing agents, along with suggestions for how you can avoid them.

Bad photos

Did you know that seeing a photo of someone before you meet them will shape how you feel about them, even after you’ve met in person? That’s what one 2016 study found.

For real estate agents, the importance of first impressions is a fact of life. In an age where almost any smartphone can take beautiful, high-resolution photos, there’s little excuse for not including high quality pictures in your listing.

And yet, so many listings don’t take advantage, missing possibly the best opportunity to attract buyers right out of the gate. Some of the most egregious issues are:

  • Not including enough photos.
  • Bad lighting.
  • Photos featuring things that will scare away some buyers. (For instance, a cat curled up on the carpet might be a red flag for someone who’s allergic.)
  • A lack of depth. (Seriously, why are you zooming in on household objects?)

If you’re worried you don’t have an eye for visuals, consider hiring a professional photographer, and then working with them to get great shots of the home. By doing this, you’ll stand apart from dozens of other listings that feature subpar photos.

Leaving out details

While this one might seem kind of obvious, it’s actually an easier mistake to make than you might think. A good listing paints a clear portrait of the property for potential buyers, using a combination of photos and written description to give them an idea of what the house looks like, inside and out. A bad listing omits important details, leaving buyers scratching their heads.

For example, if it’s unclear where the bedrooms and bathrooms are located, your buyer might navigate away from your listing to one that provides the level of detail they’re looking for. After all, there could be dozens of other properties in a desired neighborhood, and people don’t have the time or energy to decode unclear listings.

The solution is to value your potential buyer’s time by providing explicit, useful information, such as, “The main floor features three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with one in the hallway and the other in the master suite.” Or, “This two-story Cape Cod is great for commuters: just a two-minute walk to the bus stop, or a short, five-minute drive to the nearest train station.”

On the other hand, don’t give too much information, or you’ll risk boring the reader.

Setting the price too high

This one is a bit tricky. In many cases, properties are priced too high because the seller believes they can get more money than the home is actually worth. Granted, if a home doesn’t attract any serious offers, there’s always the possibility of dropping the asking price later. But astute buyers will notice how long the listing has been up, and that the price has been reduced at least once. Rather than making people think they’re getting a deal, this might cause them to wonder why the house is still on the market.

While you obviously need to please your seller, you can gently nudge them in the direction of a listing price that isn’t likely to scare away potential buyers. Remember: you’re the expert, and it’s okay to show that.

First, acknowledge the time and money your client has invested. Then, respectfully, make your case for a more realistic price by pointing to recent sales of similar homes in the area, and attempt to come to a compromise. This way, you’ll maintain a good relationship with your client, while still making sure their home sells in a reasonable amount of time for a good price.

Not promoting your listings

If your listings aren’t selling—or aren’t selling as quickly as you’d like—it’s worth rethinking your current marketing strategy. Even if your listing is solid in every other way, it’s much less likely to attract potential buyers if you aren’t properly promoting it. You can share your listings on your blog, social media accounts, and even various online groups (try searching Facebook or the web for “homes for sale” in the area where you’re selling).

Beyond that, if you aren’t already, you might want to consider running some paid ads to promote your listings. Not only will this help your visibility, but also to target different demographics and people in specific locations (Fair Housing Laws notwithstanding).

If you’ve been guilty of some of the “crimes” listed above, don’t feel bad. Instead, consider this an opportunity to get on the right path. Identifying things you can do better is the first step to improvement. If you take action today, you’ll be on the road to success before you know it.

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