Here's the scenario, you have been working with this seller for a couple of weeks and they have finally decided to list their house with you. You fill out the listing agreement, they sign on the dotted line... now what?
This is the moment you have been waiting for and now it is time to advertise. Maybe you are wondering what exactly is it going to cost me to list this house? I don't remember learning this during my Real Estate classes... First thing to do is ask up front when you sign on with a Brokerage- what exactly is it the company covers on the advertising and what do I have to provide myself? This is crucial because all of the other answers of this question depend on the first. What is my Broker going to provide? For example, starting out at my company we get a smaller portion of the split but the company pays for most of the yard & street signs, newspaper advertising, talking house equipment, virtual tours and they put it on our website. Later, when you reach a particular volume of sales, you can choose to get a larger portion of the split & you provide your own signs.
Let's look at some highlights of the things needed for selling the house you just listed...
YOUR TIME. This is the most expensive part of listing a property. You can't just stick a sign in the yard and be done with it. You need to take measurements of the home, take pictures (good ones- don't get shots of toilets with seats up), make brochures, put signs out, place your listing in the MLS, write ads, tell people about it, etc., etc. Open houses alone can take up 3-4 hours of an afternoon. Follow up on showings and call your client weekly to update them. If the house has been shown, get the follow up and call your seller before they have to call you to find out how it went. This is an area I think people overlook. Most people go to a job, clock in and they get paid for all of the time they are working. For us, this just isn't the case. We spend time checking out the property, taking pictures, showing, doing open houses, writing ads, etc. but unless we get to close our time is essetially free. If they decide to go with another company or agent because they think someone else can sell it faster, better, cheaper then all of the time and money you have invested is gone. Maybe they have a larger property that is going to take longer to sell but think that you should have already been able to despite the slow market... This can be discouraging sometimes, especially when so many people are not educated as to the true cost of selling. They don't think you have lost anything if they go somewhere else because it didn't cost them anything.
Signs, lots of signs. This may vary in some areas, but in the area I work in... larger, sleek signs get us calls. Branding ourselves with our signs gets the company recognition as well as gets your name out. People have the perception that you are successful when they see your signs everywhere. It also makes it much easier for buyers and agents to find the house you are selling if there is a sign at the end of the road pointing them in the right direction. I cringe at the thought of how many times I have had trouble finding a property for lack of signage. Signs vary in pricing. The ones we use are typically $65-$100 for yard signs and $15-20 for road signs and about $10-12 for rider signs.
MLS, Virtual Tour & Realtor.com fees- This is an important tool to get your listing out nationwide. Check with your local Realtor Association for what the cost is for this. I also have an agent website for additional exposure and have a monthly fee for it. There are some free ones available, but I haven't been as happy with the quality of those...but something is better than nothing. Check with your brokerage to be sure they allow their agents to have their own website before investing in it. It is time consuming but worth the effort.
Newspaper, Homes magazines, flyers, newsletters,etc. (print advertising) Okay, it is a known fact where I live that many more homes are sold by the MLS and Internet advertising than by print advertising. Probably 9 out of 10. There are however, still some that check out the papers and magazines every week. Another reason I advertise here is simply CUSTOMER SERVICE. 99.9% of my clients want to see THEIR home in print advertising as well as Internet. Again, this is an area that price will vary depending on the different printing agencies you may have to work with. It can be expensive if you do a large ad, but some papers in my area have 2x2 ads for about $50-$60 for an ad or a small ad no picture may run for $65 for 13 weeks. The larger papers do tend to cost quite a bit more. Depends on the paper or home magazine. I am fortunate that my company provides a full page ad with new listings in our local paper every week as well as a Home Magazine that is distributed to several large counties. I also make color flyers to advertise my listings. I put them in boxes in front of the houses, at local businesses if I can and in the office lobby. I also have a newspaper rack at a local, popular restaurant and have a monthly newsletter with my listings and tips for buyers and sellers in it. It is just another way to advertise the listings I have. I also send these out to those in my database that have subscribed to it.
Open houses- I always provide some kind of light refreshments but nothing elaborate. Simple is usually better and is more cost effective. It is however, not free. This also involves typically 3-4 hours out of your day, not to mention preparation time. I also have flags that I purchased at my Realtor's Association store for $16. I put them in the yard on Open House day and it gets attention.
I look for places I can advertise on the Internet. Craigslist is free and it is surprising how many people look there. Even if you don't get a buyer from it, you may get leads for other business. I also invest in online flyers. You can get some for free up to a certain volume but I just subscribe to a package so that I can get my ads pushed out to more websites than I can do with the free ones. Prices vary from $10 per month, $5 per ad all the way up to $50. There are all kinds of ad-ons you can get for advertising on certain sites or to have a "drip" campaign to keep your ad up front to the consumers. My listings go on my company website, my personal website, Realtor.com, Truila, and dozens of sites thru the online ad companies I subscribe to. The more places you can place your ads, the more people will see them. It certainly involves time to create your ads and to publish them on the internet, but it is well worth the effort.
Closing gifts. If you work hard and you and your seller are patient, chances are you will get to close! I like to give a gift to my sellers after closing. This cost is up to you. Good suggestions are gift cards for dinner (who wants to cook while moving!), Building supply company gift cards, etc. There are some good websites such as www.colorforrealestate.com that has good closing gift sets. Make it personal and keep in mind each clients personal likes, taste and situations. If they just bought a brand new construction, they may not need to go to Lowe's, etc.
Last but not least... Be a Realtor for life! Don't let the relationship end with the closing. Send birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Happy 4th, Christmas cards... you get the picture! Call and check on them. They may remember someone who needs you while you're talking to them. They are a key to your future success and the reason you are where you are.