Marketing Basics

Seller's handbook Marketing basics

Sellers Guide: How to market my house or land privately?

For too long a home owner’s hard earned equity has been seen as a juicy resource by an often parasitic real estate industry. Many real estate businesses exploit the homeowner’s anxiety over selling such a large asset as their own house. The internet and Owner.com.au now offer a real alternative to the agent monopoly in Australian real estate.

Indeed, with us you could conceivably DIY market your property without paying a cent. So assuming you have already spruced up your house, lined up a legal eagle for a contract of sale and had a professional valuation performed, your home should at the minimum be listed on Owner.com.au’s free Standard Listing service. Owner.com.au has the most For Sale listings and the highest Google search engine ranking for the category of Private Sale only or For Sale By Owner only real estate in Australia. We feel the reason we are number one is that we were the first such service online, offered real value, and have stuck out the internet’s ups and downs. For over a decade now we have offered both a free listing service and a great value full Premier listing, (with included customized signs) service. We established ourselves as the first For Sale By Owner only website right at the early days when the Australian internet was in its infancy.

At least two thirds of all property searching is now done online. Don’t miss out on market exposure to this many buyers. Nothing beats the internet for allowing you full reign to describe all the many benefits of your home; with the seeing-is-believing proof of being able to upload clear photographs. Unlike agents, the internet never sleeps. Need one more reason to list on the internet? Your exposure to the International market, or even just the out of state market, will be vastly greater than other forms of advertising.

To sell your home quickly and at a good price, we recommend our Premier Listing services. Your home will be presented with an unlimited number of photos in a slide show photo tour, and with as much text as you need to detail your home’s many features. For the one low price of $199 you get a customised set of professional For Sale signs. Your property will be placed higher in any property search, (as compared with our free Standard Listing service). Comparable market research shows this to be four times more effective at selling than our Standard Listing service.

The one downside of all this web exposure is that, the internet being an anonymous place, you need to be aware of spammers, aggressive marketeers and fraudsters. At Owner.com.au your privacy is top priority to us; we urge you to reveal only those personal details which are necessary to sell your home. You need to find a balance between your listing being informative to genuine buyers and not making an easy target for societies’ underbelly. We have designed the site so that contact is made on a form at the bottom of each listing. This contact is then filtered for likely spam or scam before it is emailed on to you. Unfortunately there will always be some that will get through. Don’t email replies to, and put down the phone on, time wasting cold calling marketeers, real estate agents who don’t have the basic decency to respect your private sale decision, or International fraudsters with their too-good-to-be-true offers.
Maximum impact or exposure to all of the market is not what you are trying to achieve. There is only one buyer for your home

Even with the declining influence of newspapers due to the success of the web, newspaper print ads are still an important channel, particularly with a DIY private sale, since you will be missing out on inquiries through agent networks. Your local or your state newspaper should be sufficient and very local small publications often work particularly well cost wise. Check where local agents like to advertise as a guide to where to start out. However, ignore any agent advice you may have had for the necessity of having a big expensive marketing campaign. Agents get advertising kickbacks and indeed for some agents, spending your money on big ad campaigns are their core business. Many of Owner.com.au’s successful sellers have regretted that early on in their ad campaign they wasted too much money on newspaper ads, usually because they started listing through an agent before giving For Sale By Owner a try. To avoid this costly mistake, don’t spend too much too soon. Most of our listers have found the best value for money comes from cheap, brief, and text-only ads that are run frequently. If however you find these are not getting many inquiries or if you need to sell quickly (or have a unique or top end luxury property), spending more on picture advertisements can be a good option. But be warned, this can get quite expensive.

At a minimum your newspaper advert should include the suburb, price, house category (e.g. near new house, serviced apartment, farm cottage etc.) number of bedrooms and don’t forget your phone number! It is important to include “For Sale By Owner” in any newspaper advertisement. You will get many more inquiries since buyers are keen to cover all available properties that fit their criteria. Buyers are well aware that agents will not be showing them any private sales, and experience has shown that flagging your ad as a For Sale By Owner gets more interest. We provide you with a unique Property Number when you list with us. So when you advertise with a text ad, include “more details and pictures at www.owner.com.au Property Number xxxxx.” That way newspaper buyers can investigate your home more thoroughly, and in full colour, through the web.

With your text newspaper ads try to avoid two common traps. Packing too much information in does not necessarily lead to more inquiries, yet makes the ad much more expensive. At the other end, saving on cost by abbreviating too much (too much jargon like DLUG for double lock up garage) will make the ad read poorly and will confuse some buyers. It is best to keep your newspaper ad brief but clear, pointing out one or two major buyer benefits of your home, and letting the reference to your web listing fill the details in.

The Importance of Roadside Signs.

The oldest form of house advertising is still one of the best: a sign at the property. This is because most buyers, and the best buyers, are usually looking actively in your local area. Simply putting a sign out the front will generate the most inquiries of almost any other advertising medium, inquiries usually from quality motivated buyers. Professional signs don’t cost much, since the printing industry is very competitive. For $130 you get a personalized sign pair from us (which in any case come inclusive with our Premier Listing service). Even with real estate agent sales, over one fifth of their successes come from the sign only, and with private sales over a quarter of all successful leads come from signs. Why should an agent get thousands in commission simply for putting a sign out the front of a property? The importance of signs in property selling is why we at Owner.com.au have made the provision of large, bright, hard wearing and professional signs a core service to you. Importantly, our signs are personalized with your contact details and website property number. They will be couriered to you inclusive of any Premier listing, arranged here.Think about security issues before marketing your home to sell

With any sign positioning make sure they are clearly visible to the casual passer by. It is best to check first with your local council about any sign restrictions; our 900mm x 600mm signs fit almost all council laws. The best sign positioning, council laws allowing, is slightly oThink about secuirty issues before trying to market your home to the wide world.utside the property, double faced with two star pickets, side on, perpendicular to the road. Towards this end we always supply a two sign pair with any Premier Listing. This allows both left and right traffic to see the sign from some distance off. If this format is restricted (usually if you are in a fairly high density area and you don’t see any agent signs erected on the grass outside property boundaries), then putting a sign at either end of a property, or on either side if it is a corner property, also has very good visibility. Vandalism or even theft of signs has in rare cases been reported. If you feel this could happen in your area some listers keep their second sign in reserve for such contingencies, or you can contact us for a cost price replacement.
In most cases our bold orange screen printed signs grab the most buyer attention, yet are still of a legal size to fit almost all of Australia’s local council laws. If instead you feel a larger with-photo sign is more appropriate to your type of property, and local laws allow these larger sizes, we also can arrange for large with-photo signs to be professionally designed, printed and shipped to you as a competitively priced upgrade on your Premier listing service. Contact us by email for a quote and also to discuss which information we will need from you (a brief description of your property and at least one high resolution photo are usual requirements).

The Colour Flyer Advantage

Printed property flyers – single page information sheets on your home – are a proven and economical marketing tool. These should at a minimum be handed out at any inspection or open house, at the least as a memory jogger for interested buyers who are usually looking at many homes. But it is important to distribute flyers more broadly as well. Typically, from 5 to 10 percent of agent home sales come from such flyer leads; not bad commission money for the work of handing out a few pieces of paper. But if you are a pro-active private seller you can do even better than these odds. One of the best strategies is to do a letterbox drop of as many streets in your suburb as you have the energy for.

The other easy essential is to pin up your flyer on any local community noticeboards and tape them onto any shopfront windows which accept community notices. This evens up the score with the agent’s window display; by agents regarded as one of their most important marketing tools, especially in rural areas. The simple action of a letterbox drop or a noticeboard pin-up have resulted in easy quick sales for many of our sellers.

Market research strongly shows that flyers in full colour and with photos are much more effective than a simple black and white text printout. A single large good photo at the top of your flyer works well. However if your property overlooks some hidden spectacular scenery at its back or looks much better on the inside rather than from the street, include maybe one or two of these photo views as well. For body text concentrate on short ‘bullet points’ of the best features and buyer benefits of your property, not forgetting to include your price and contact details. For maximum impact don’t over clutter the flyer. Include a reference to “further property details available at www.Owner.com.au property number xxxxx”. You can design your own flyers using a flyer design feature on your login Seller Desktop, or designing also can be easily done with any word processor such as Word or Open Office. If you have access to a high quality but economical colour printer you could print your own flyers, or you can order professionally printed sets of flyers from us on the website.

Push Marketing, or going the extra mile.

Thus prominent signs, internet advertising, newspaper classifieds and widely distributing flyers are the four proven tried-and-true methods of promoting a For Sale By Owner property. But there are other more innovative approaches which can give you that edge for a quicker sale. The big rule of marketing is don’t be shy! Be creative and be pro-active. If you are not already so, become an active participant in your neighborhood. You’ll find many around you are only too happy to play their part as your networkers and marketeers, and they won’t even expect a salary! Why not, as one suggestion, hold a regular garage sale. (You hopefully should not have a huge lot of things to sell, having cleared your place of clutter in preparation for home inspections). But selling household goods, besides a few trinkets, won’t be the main point of this exercise. Whenever anyone arrives to inspect your table of wares, hand them property flyers. Engage them in conversation about selling your home yourself; you’ll find many people are curious about the process of For Sale By Owner. Ask any visitors if they know anyone who have been considering moving home. Most people like to be neighborly and will at the least hand on a few flyers. These are valuable marketing leads.

Another creative marketing idea is to involve a hobby group you are part of, such as a vintage motoring club, a knitting group or a book club. For their next social gathering invite them all to your place. The conversation will naturally draw towards your For Sale sign and you can fill them in on your needs, hand out flyers and ask them to pass them onto possible leads. A further idea; hold a big neighbourhood barbecue, urging your neighbours to also bring along any friends and family. In the invite start with “It has been great to have you as neighbours and we have really enjoyed living in this suburb. We are planning to move soon and have put our home on the market. This is our early moving away party, before things start to get too hectic with the sale process. We’d love you to pop in for our goodbye barbie…” Such sort of low key local activities are excellent at creating sale leads and neighbourhood buzz. Always keep it in mind that a large chunk of real estate sales are through word of mouth or go to a local buyer.

Reply to property buyer inquiries by phone

Another great pro-active approach is to contact other private sellers in your general region, both as a network of support with sharing your DIY private selling experience and towards creating a ring network of buyer leads. Have a stack of other private sale home flyers at your inspections and open houses, and ask your new seller comrades to do the same. Do a collective For Sale list for community notice boards. Owing to the unique individualized aspects of any real estate property, as opposed to the generic nature of most commodities, home sellers don’t really compete with each other except in the broadest sense of a market of thousands. In contacting a small group of other For Sale By Owners you’ll be functioning as a mini targeted and local ‘multi-list-agent’ network. There are many synergies with this approach. Apart from swapping knowledge of what local services and approaches are helpful for private sellers, together you can look at sharing the expense of a large newspaper box advert containing a list of your combined sales, getting high exposure in the top regional paper for a low distributed cost. To contact other Owner.com.au private sellers in your broad region just do a postcode search. Alternatively you can email us for assistance in contacting local private sellers towards creating a local For Sale By Owner support network.

If you are already part of a social media internet network such as Facebook or Twitter, the same marketing rule applies doubly here; don’t be shy! So long as you follow basic net etiquette and don’t spam complete strangers, use your network of internet ‘friends’ who you will find are curious about your major life event of DIY internet selling your home. Fill them all in on the details, and thus creating marketing buzz, by posing regular updates on your For Sale By Owner process. It is a sure thing that someone in your network, or someone on their network, is searching for a home just like yours. Internet social networks are fast emerging as a powerful force in real estate marketing.

Your colour home printer and other such small office devices can be put to use as a workhorse for creative marketing ideas. Try a laminated colour flyer sheet to put on your back car window or local shop fronts. Or using pre-perforated sheet packs, a set of home printed business cards for your property, which many business such as service stations will accept you leaving a batch of at their sales counter. Just don’t forget where you have left all these, for the courtesy of removing them when you’ve sold!
Hopefully these marketing ideas can act as a springboard to your own creative and low cost promotional campaign. We would love to hear of your experiences so we can recommend tips and strategies to future private sellers.

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