If a Listing Agent Isn't Willing To...

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster Real Estate VA License # 0225089470

If a Listing Agent Isn't Willing To...


Let's talk marketing.  It is the single most important element to getting the absolute highest price and best terms for a seller.  As a Top Bristow Listing Agent, the first step to great marketing is having an honest conversation with my sellers about listing preparation.  In most cases, it doesn't take too much elbow grease to polish a home for market.  Decluttering, cleaning and touch ups are essential to setting the stage for listing success.  Of course, not all listing agents are ready to "tell it like it is" and get the importance of listing prep across to sellers.  Then again, maybe there are agents that just don't understand the importance themselves.  The thing about a seller's market is that even crappy marketing goes under contract rather quickly.

Next, it's my job to help you arrange your furnishings in a way that shows the optimal use of your floor plan.  Or, if a home is vacant, do some light staging to warm up the master bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms at a minimum.  THEN, it's time for professional photography.

Do you know how many little nit picky items I have manipulated at a photo shoot to make sure my listings are showing their best face online?  Eletrical cords, wrinkled bed spreads, kitchen counter clutter, refrigerator magnets.  You get the idea.  Come photo day, fluffing is a must.  And this is what brings me to my biggest nit pick of all time...


Why aren't more listing agents willing to pop a cover off a working hot tub and sell the sizzle?  Show the water and bubbles.  It's certainly more appealing than a brown hot tub cover that has a layer of outdoor filth on it.


If a listing agent isn't willing to go to the very minimal effort of taking off a hot tub cover for a photo shoot, what other marketing short cut are they willing to take?  How much is that going to cost you?   


I still remember when I took a listing that had been on the market for two and a half months with a previous listing agent.  The listing photos were never updated to reflect the springing to life of the grass, flowers and so forth since the change of seasons happened during the listing period.  The photos were so drab, I knew immediately I could do better. 

At the time, I was doing my own listing photography.  This particular listing had a hot tub cabana.  Above is the the shot the former agent had taken.  Below is the staged/cover off photo.  The difference is obvious.  Those sellers went under contract in a week after listing with me.  They had also done a lot of the listing prep the other agent didn't tell them to do.  It paid off.



So maybe a question sellers should ask is, "How do you market a hot tub?"  Even if the seller asking the question doesn't have one, the asnwer the agent gives you says a lot.  Do they mention it in the listing or go the whole nine yards and sell the sizzle?  You'll notice in my listing photos, you don't even see the folded cover in the background.  It is well out of the photo.

Know you are getting the best marketing when you hire to sell your home.  I take pride in making sure my listings are a notch above the competition.  THAT is what gets you under contract quicker and for better terms.




Comments (46)

Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Chris Ann Cleland ,

Yes a listing agent needs to be proficient in marketing! Its all in the details and the eye buys every time! Glad to see your post featured in Kathy Streib's "Ah-Ha" series for the week!

Jan 27, 2020 06:20 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

No matter the market, or type of sale (I have staged my share of Short Sales) I put my best effort into getting that marketing perfect.

Jan 27, 2020 07:47 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Well done Chris Ann!

Congrats on the well deserved feature!

You hit the nail right on the head. The hot tub pics make your case perfectly.

This is a perfect example of the power of preparation...staging!

For those agents who are not as good at this as you are: find a home stager to handle the preparation and presentation for you! No better investment than staging and professional photography!

Jan 27, 2020 07:16 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

It's all critical to getting the max amount in the home sale.

Jan 27, 2020 07:48 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

What an extreme difference those two photos are! I was thinking that with our long winters I wouldn't be able to pull that off - but then I thought, why not? A hot bubbling spa surrounded by snow would certainly be unique.

Jan 27, 2020 09:04 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

That's the best time to be in the hot tub.

Jan 27, 2020 09:22 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Brillian! Congratulations on the FEATURE!

Jan 27, 2020 09:06 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Thank you!

Jan 27, 2020 09:23 AM
Cathy Valdiviez Baumbusch
eXp Realty - Alexandria, VA
I'm Cathy. Agent Cathy.

Yes. Conventional wisdom tells us that homes with pools/hottubs take longer to sell. With a house like this, you're selling a lifestyle. Any professional photographer and/or worth his/her salt would also know to do this. We have to prep our clients for the photo shoot too. Great post.

Jan 27, 2020 09:37 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

It's all about the details in every listing.  Pool, hot tub or none of the above.

Jan 27, 2020 09:44 AM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe .Just Call. 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Great point! Why aren't more listing agents willing to pop a cover off a working hot tub and sell the sizzle?  Show the water and bubbles.  It's certainly more appealing than a brown hot tub cover that has a layer of outdoor filth on it.

Jan 27, 2020 02:11 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Because very few do, so they are just doing what "everyone else" does.

Jan 28, 2020 08:12 AM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

It makes a difference when you go the extra mile!  It is what makes every agent different as demonstrated by your ability to sell this listing after the first agent failed to do so.  Great job on the photos!

Jan 27, 2020 02:39 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

One of the first things I do when I am interviewing for a listing is send a few samples of MLS photos of my current/recent listings.  Let's them know, "This is what you get when you work with me."

Jan 28, 2020 08:13 AM
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

I recently saw a listing that had two sets of photos. One was staged and the other set showed a vacant home. It was neat to see the difference in the photos and the staged ones were definitely the better of the two. Photos need to POP!

Jan 27, 2020 06:27 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

I wonder if it was virtual staging, and that's why they left the vacant pics up.  I don't see any reason to leave them otherwise.  Even in virtual staging, I think you could just make a big disclaimer about it and not have the vacant listing photos.

Jan 28, 2020 08:14 AM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Well said Chris Ann! I showed a listing this past week where the pics did not do the listing justice! The buyers didn't want to look at it! I dragged them kicking and screaming! They loved it! The pics were not bad, the home just doesn't lend itself to good pics! 

Jan 27, 2020 07:43 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Looking at the home through the eye of the camera is what I do.  Somethings I suggest make sellers want to argue, but then you point out how a camera sees the room and they have that a-ha moment.

Jan 28, 2020 08:15 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Phooey - my fantastic Hughes Net only brought in the top sliver of your photo - so I used my imagination.

You made me wish I'd make the effort to have my hot tub repaired - would feel good on a chilly, drizzly night like tonight.

Jan 27, 2020 08:35 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

You must get it fixed.   That would be so enjoyable for you.

Jan 28, 2020 08:16 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

When a listing agent isn't willing to put the toilet seat down! That is one of mine Chris Ann. When I see bathroom pictures prominently featuring the inside of a toilet, I want to cry. I don't know if it's laziness or carelessness or not having any aesthetic values, but none have a place in Real Estate marketing. 

Sometimes it's not (just) the price that is off but the marketing! Outdated or bad pictures don't sell houses. Your hot tub example certainly proves that!

Jan 28, 2020 07:23 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Don't even get me started on bathrooms, toilet seats, plungers, toilets brushes and toilet bowl cleaners.  I HATE seeing that stuff in listing photos....or in homes.

Sellers I recently helped with four toilets left all plungers behind when they moved out.  I showed up to stage and came back with a trash bag.  #1)  What message are sending about the toilets?  #2) Who wants the thought of someone else's fecal matter in their bathroom?

Jan 28, 2020 08:27 AM
Stephen Turner
House Broker Realty - York, PA

The little things do add up. (I must confess I'll make sure to show hot tubs uncovered from now on!) Thanks for the tips and more importantly, sharing with us!

Jan 28, 2020 07:46 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

I'm glad to know that more hot tubs will now be seeing the light of day in your photos.  It makes a huge difference.

Jan 28, 2020 08:22 AM
Gwen Fowler-864-710-4518 SC * Mountain* Lake*Home
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc - Walhalla, SC
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc.

It is the little things that make an impact. Love the simple, yet effective, way you marketed the hot tub.

Jan 28, 2020 08:10 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

It doesn't take much to make a big impact in photos.

Jan 28, 2020 08:29 AM
Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643

Open toilet seats are the worst. Or a trash container that "should" be empty and clean. As they say, The Devil is in the details!

Jan 28, 2020 10:05 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

Yes indeed.

Jan 30, 2020 11:46 AM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Beautifully written and presented Chris Ann.  Your climate is a little milder than for us in the North, not as much time here to sell that sizzle in the hot tub.  We often see indoor hot tubs for year round use vs. 1 1/2 seasons use for out door tubs.

Jan 28, 2020 12:46 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

The temps when the lid was off the one in the middle was about 30 degrees.  Winter is the best time to use a hot tub in my opinion.  I've sat in them while it snowed.  It's really quite magical.

Jan 30, 2020 11:47 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Great point!  I like the before and after pictures and can see that it makes a huge difference.

Jan 29, 2020 01:53 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

I'm happy to take up the slack as the second agent in.  I'll get the job done!

Jan 30, 2020 11:47 AM
Kurt Uhlir
Showcase IDX - Roswell, GA
Real Estate Marketing Coach & Speaker

Growth comes from niches and the details. Absolutely love your example of opening the hot tub cover, and the pictures show the result. There are so many details like that for a listing and good marketing.

Jan 29, 2020 12:51 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

Fireplaces being on when marketing a property in the winter is a nice touch too.

Jan 30, 2020 11:48 AM
John willson
2D, 3D Floor Plan Rendering & Drafting Services

The staging and the toilet issues, I have been doing floor plan conversion and image editing for Real Estate photographers for over a Decade now and even now at times i get pictures from my Photgraphers saying that they had no wish to take the picture of the toilet but they had no choice and we virtually declutter, clean and retouch the images. Times i feel so bad for my Photographer clients as they have to capture that image and share for staging.

Jan 29, 2020 09:33 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

A toilet in and of itself is not a bad thing.  Closed lid only. 

Jan 30, 2020 11:48 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent job Chris Ann!  You have an eye for selling that's for sure!

Feb 06, 2020 03:39 PM
Chris Ann Cleland

If someone hires me to sell their home, it's going through my marketing boot camp.

Feb 06, 2020 08:21 PM
Karen Rice
Keller Williams Real Estate - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

I hate when agents can't be bothered to do simple things like a quick counter tidy, moving baskets of laundry out of the shot (or pets!!! or PEOPLE!!!) etc.  Come on - you call yourself a professional?  UGH! One of my biggest peeves in the business! LOL

Feb 10, 2020 08:39 AM
Chris Ann Cleland

One of the things I do these days is rate the marketing photos when I am presenting comps.  The crappy ones always get lower prices.

Feb 12, 2020 11:15 AM