Earlier this week, I was invited to a client meeting with the smart and sophisticated director of a major not-for-profit organization. The organization owns a large midtown building in Manhattan which they have had on the market for several years at a price slightly above the market. He invited me to pitch for the business, which I declined to do because in the end I felt that the price, not the agent, was the problem. But the agent’s website is minimal and not user friendly, and neither the director nor his Board had thought to look at it before retaining her. So it got me thinking about what owners of real estate need to ask about marketing when they are looking to hire an exclusive agent:
1) Go immediately to the company’s website. This is everyone’s primary marketing vehicle in the Internet age, and according to the National Association of Realtors, well over 80% of buyers begin their real estate searches on-line. The number reaches nearly 95% for international buyers. You should play around on the site a little: is it easy to navigate? Does each exclusive have a unique property page with multiple photos, floor plan, and complete description?
2) You should ask how many unique visits they have per month and what they do to drive traffic to their site. What tools are available that will give you easy access to information about your property, such as numbers of hits, number of e-mails generated, appearances in other media, etc?
3) Is the agent active on Facebook, or in the blogosphere, or on Twitter or another Web 2.0 medium? Social media increasingly offers opportunities to put your property in front of an exponentially expanding audience.
4) Does the agent or the firm have a public relations presence which ideally could get both them and your property covered? If the agency you hire appears often in the media demonstrating expertise (in other words, the kind of coverage you can’t buy) that will drive more traffic to their website and, ultimately, to your listing. And your agent’s good relationships with the major media also increase the likelihood that your property might appear in a news feature like “On The Market” in the Sunday New York Times.
5) Classified advertising in print is irrelevant today. In general print is valuable for branding more than selling purposes, but both branding and selling require a big presence to stand out in the tidal wave of advertising which surrounds us. Make sure that whatever print your agent’s firm does, it is big enough to be noticed and appears in publications which have the right reader demographic for your property.
Unless your agent can offer you a strong marketing program, your property is at a disadvantage. And in today’s ultra competitive market you want every advantage you can get!