A wise person once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Although this quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Will Rogers, perhaps that wise person was actually a savvy Realtor who knew that, when it comes to marketing properties successfully, first impressions can be the key to your success.
There are three key first impression points of contact that you should be paying attention to on a daily basis:
- Your listings
- Your web site
- Your properties
Let’s take a look at each of these points and see how to create a first and a lasting impression.
Your listings. There’s no reason for you to get lost in the classified ad jungle. You can still stand out among the crowd if you follow a few simple principles of good marketing and good writing. Your ad should be buyer-oriented rather than property-oriented. Let potential buyers imagine themselves in the picture. This means using an appealing photo, of course. But you should also include phrases like “kids can walk to school,” “plenty of storage for sports equipment,” or “perfect for home office.”
It’s possible to be both positive and truthful. If the house is a dog, it can be a terrific bargain for the DIYer or the savvy investor. If it’s tiny, it can be a great home for a green conscious buyer.
Avoid jargon and real estate clichés. Terms like “charming” and “light and bright” are overused. You can activate your imagination and come up with something far more creative. Abbreviations are fine, if the meaning is obvious. For example, “2br 2ba” is understandable. EIK (eat-in kitchen) or AtFn (attic fan) may leave some buyers scratching their heads.
It’s best to put the price and general location in your ads. If you omit the price, potential buyers may think they can’t afford the property (especially if you’ve written a great ad!). If you leave out the location, you may miss potential buyers who are looking for property in a specific neighborhood.
Your web site. Given that 85% of home buyers today are shopping mainly on the Internet, all of the above advice applies to your web site too. But before you even get to the point of posting your listings, you need to pay serious attention to your web site design and user-friendliness.
Your site should be clean, uncluttered, and visually appealing from the very first click. Use a professional design—do it yourself sites may not cost a lot, but most of them look like, well, do it yourself sites – think homeowner repairs and remodeling; you can tell by looking at it. And if you don’t have the time or talent to write your own copy (articles), there are services that will do that, too.
Don’t skimp on technology. You’re in a visual business and your clients need to put themselves in the picture—literally. This means professionally done virtual tours, as well as hyperlocal content that links potential buyers directly to the local school system, medical facilities, utilities, and restaurants.
Once the buyer reaches your site, he or she needs to reach YOU—easily. That means all your contact information should be clearly visible on your home page, including your email address (via a contact form), office phone, cell phone, toll-free number, and links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Your properties. If you’ve followed all of the above recommendations, chances are buyers are flocking to your listings in droves. Well, maybe not, but when they do drive by, make sure they stop for a second look. Here’s where client education comes in.
We all know about curb appeal, of course. But sellers can be notoriously reluctant to put time and money into a property they are planning to leave. We suggest that you develop a simple, 10-point checklist to hand every potential seller at your listing conference. You can revise or expand on these items as appropriate, but this type of list should give clients a clear road map to getting their property show-ready inside and out:
- Mow and clean up yard
- Power wash exterior
- Install seasonal color
- Paint, polish and repair
- Upgrade exterior lighting
- De-clutter counters
- De-clutter closets
- Remove personal photos and souvenirs
- Smell clean
- Conceal evidence of pets
Experts say it takes only three seconds for someone to form that all-important first impression. With every new mouse click or drive-by, your properties are being evaluated and another impression is being created. These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, so what people see at first glance sets the tone for all the relationships that follow.
Make your first impression a good one and your sales success will follow.