If you are bound and determined to try to sell your Austin house without the aid of a real estate professional, you will quickly discover that one critical element that can’t be overlooked is marketing. Just planting a ‘For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) sign on the front lawn and taking an 8-line classified ad in the Austin paper is a good first step—but that’s all it is. Not only must you immediately embark on a do-it-yourself real estate marketing campaign, you will be doing so against competition from all the similar properties which will be promoted by the veteran voices of the real estate industry. It’s a true David and Goliath situation; but Goliath isn’t just a giant—he’s a superbly well-organized giant. If you’re going to be a David, you’d better arm your sling with more than pebbles!
Start with the product you will be marketing. While you are putting your house into top-notch presentation shape, first banish any temptation to overlook areas that need elbow grease or budget dollars to bring them up to top condition. Any defects that go uncorrected will be reason for lowered offers (or no offers at all). Remember that competing properties have Austin real estate marketing channels open to them, and will have been put on the market after consultation with experienced hands. Your ultimate ace in the hole can only be that of having a desirable property, well-situated and clean as a whistle. But that ace will only be relevant if your marketing effort brings a critical number of potential buyers through the front door!
Another key will be to hire the best real estate photographer in Austin, and on the appointed day, to give her or him reason to relish the day’s project! Photographers are in the business of presenting eye-pleasing products, but they can’t create what isn’t there. On the day of the shoot, arrange to be at the photographer’s side to help clear or rearrange objects that the lens ‘sees’ as superfluous or obstructive. When spaciousness is mission critical—as it is in real estate marketing—less is always more. The pro you’ve hired will be used to working with professional real estate agents (who sometimes pay their fees), so be quick to help where needed. The difference between great professional real estate photos and poor ones taken by an amateur is more critical in a FSBO situation, where the seriousness of the endeavor is automatically subject to scrutiny.
Ditto, the video or virtual tour. Real estate marketing in Austin does not in all instances require a video component—but most FSBO campaigns are launched without even considering the option. What is not optional in any serious offering is a well-written, technically correct Austin listing, so you should do your best to use every web outlet available to position your offering online, including a web site that facilitates gathering data from interested parties. There are also services that, for a price, will help you place your listing. Generally, you pay more for more exposure—frequently six to 10 times the base rate—with the enhanced deluxe packages usually including an MLS insertion, which is vital. When you remember that you are competing against Goliath, it’s no time to skimp!
You should also consider creating, printing, and distributing flyers, photo ads in the local press (real estate magazines, newspapers, etc.)—everywhere you are used to seeing Austin real estate brokerage ads. All of which points to what most Austin home sellers eventually conclude: rather than reinventing the wheel, the other option is to team up with a Austin real estate marketing professional…
If that’s your choice, I hope you’ll count me in!