I have a spec home in Princeton, N.J., that is nearing 100 percent punch-out and is still for sale. In the market prior to the one we are in now, we would have presold it during the framing stage then started the next one. In this market, following 12 months of production, I had less than half a dozen showings and only one serious nibble, which we lost to a 2-year-old resale. Sound familiar?
After the first listing expired, I interviewed several new realtors and agencies and studied my competition’s product and pricing — including resales — then I relisted the home for $1.95 million. I asked and received a long list of commitments from the realtor and broker, which I am confident will increase my product’s visibility, increase traffic through the home and ultimately increase the possibility of selling the home as quickly as possible. I also increased my construction interest budget to include one more year of carry — just in case it takes that long to sell. In a softening market, the best you may be able to do is increase your chances of a sale and be prepared to be patient.
Prior to signing the listing, I met with the broker owner, his marketing director, and the listing realtor. They agreed to the following:
Create a listing sheet. Present property on Multiple Listing Service. Include all pertinent data describing the details of the luxury features as much as space permits.
Schedule professional photography shoot. Illustrate each listing with exterior and interior photos that will be used for the display advertising campaign, broker website, listing sheet, brochures and for the MLS database. Photography will also appear on Realtor.com and other various websites.
Develop brochures. The broker will produce a brochure for the home that includes the professional photography. These brochures will be placed at the home for sale and will be used as a mailing piece to targeted audiences and affiliates of the broker network.
Create ad copy. Generate the ad copy that will appear in print media to introduce ads and subsequent ad campaigns, including advertorials.
Create press releases. Develop press releases to introduce the grand opening of the home. Additionally, use the press release as an opportunity to boast about the company including number of homes built, relevant awards, seminars given, articles published, etc.
Launch the ad campaign. Introduce the listing to the local market with a single display ad in multiple newspapers which will announce the grand opening. Thereafter advertise the listing as the schedule dictates, which should have as much frequency as the budget allows.
Direct mail. Develop an eye-catching direct mail postcard to attract people to the grand opening. Also develop a separate direct mail piece that can be used to target other brokers and relocation companies.
Post property on the Internet. List with a broker who has a comprehensive website and is registered with all the major search engines. My realtor, NT Callaway, is linked to Realtor.com, Christiesgreatestates.com, Homes&land.com, and also buys Google AdWords on the Google website. Ask to include links to your own website.
Install site signage. Over 30 percent of buyers learn of a property due to on-site signage. Don’t skimp on sign budgets. Highly visible, well-designed signs will attract traffic.
Last but not least, negotiate the lowest commission possible. Don’t be bashful about asking for all of the above and whatever else you think will help you increase your opportunity to meet with qualified prospects.