The #2 Reason Your Listing Does Not Sell

Services for Real Estate Pros

That's right, # 2.   It's time to focus on what I believe is the SECOND biggest reason homes sit on the market.   We all should know what # 1 is, PRICE, and there's already plenty of explanations out there concerning why price is numero uno.  Find some of those HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.  So instead of shooting a dead horse, I hope to make a case for 2nd place!  And who might be the winner of a fabulous NUMBER 2 prize??

2nd Place Marketing

To help you understand the power of reason # 2, let's take a good look at a recent list of expired listings that popped up in the wonderful ole MLS system.    This chart will help explain the first of three powerful reasons marketing is so important.

Expireds Example

1. PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES - Without a doubt the single biggest reason, outside of price, that your property doesn't move.  It should be crystal clear to a trained eye, that within this small list above, there is one shining example of how to almost GUARANTEE your property will generate ZERO interest.   I don't even know where to begin when I see this occur, DAILY....but let's try:

You should immediately spot three listings with a whopping 1 picture.   I'm sorry, but there are absolutely no excuses for this.  NONE.   I don't care what the seller says, what the property looks like outside, what the price is, or if inside it looks like World War III just ended.    A one picture listing doesn't even compute in the mind of today's online buyer. Your seller needs to understand that fact clearly.   When the consumer hits that listing online, on the MLS, wherever, that one picture yells, in their own mind, a HUGE negative word:


If you can't convince the seller to clean up their mess (which is USUALLY the reason for a one picture listing), or at the very least ORGANIZE the mess into a big heap, you should seriously consider whether or not the listing is worth taking in the first place.  Even if the place is empty, but a total disaster internally, you still TAKE THE PICTURES.  Consumers are more likely to look at the house, even if it's a slop heap...if it has more than one photo. You at least generate the possibility someone will view the home and it's structure with an open mind.   They will see the innards, mess and all, damage, etc., and true buyers will envision the house as what it COULD be.

When you show buyers nothing but a single picture, the entire emotional experience, the dreaming about this room and that room, is gone in an instant, and I don't care if you write a 18 paragraph description that could win you a extra photos...and crickets is what you are going to get.

Finally, for the love of Pete don't think that teasing the buyer is smart.   That is taking only 5 or 6 pictures hoping to entice someone to see more.   Are you kidding me?  Those days are over.   The mind set of a consumer is they'll get in their GPS enabled car and drive to the listing FIRST before they call you. 

Yes they will do that.

TAKE THE PICTURES!!!  Nothing disturbs me more when I see a $400,000+ listing with less pictures than a $90,000 listing.  If you can't take 20 pictures of a house, what the heck are you doing???  Do you know how to use a digital camera???  A safe number is 15-20, maybe even pushing 30 if the house demands it, specifically via different angles, outside features, etc.

Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer.   You would want lots of pictures, wouldn't you?

2. THE MLS IS ALL THAT MATTERS - It strikes me as stunning when I hear other agents state that as long as their listing is in the MLS system, there's no other need for marketing online.  Most of the time I find out that they simply have no desire to expand their online exposure or more than likely, literally have NO IDEA how to expand their marketing.  

If you're a consumer one of the first questions you should ask your agent BEFORE you list with them, is SHOW ME where my home will appear online once you list it.    If the agent cannot sit down at a computer and either show your personally or EMAIL you at least 5 EXTRA sites, outside of the MLS, company website, and national need to move onto another agent. 

Here's just a FEW websites you should be in touch with. 
(If these don't look familiar, it's time you re-invent yourself.)




It's critical that a listing gets exposure in as many online spots as necessary.   If you can't deliver that to the consumer, you're in the wrong business. 

3. USING OUTDATED TECHNIQUES - It blows my mind to no end how many agents continue to push for and continue to believe in dated marketing techniques.  Newspaper ads still run rampant in the papers, agents are still mailing out 4000+ holiday magnets, and many continue to ignore the need to embrace things like Facebook, blogging, or personal e-marketing.  Sure, some of these 'old' techniques still turn up a golden nugget from time to time, but you'll find less of these shining star stories popping up than in years past.

Newspapers are legitimately dying...and i predict that 2009 will be a telling year for their overall decline.  Many have already made drastic changes or gone almost completely under.  Magazines are starting to turn to digital editions and newspapers have already stopped home delivery in some states.   If you're still hooked on newspapers, it's time you wake up.  

Sure there are still people who would explode without their daily coffee and back porch relaxing moment with the dead tree in their hands....but anyone younger than 35 still reading the newspaper is an enigma.  It is important for you to realize that these younger generations are the people who will be your largest customers in less than 5 years, if not sooner.

Relying on old methods and not expanding your knowledge into the need to be online savvy, into social networks like Facebook, or keeping in touch with your customers with an e-newsletter...not doing those...will eventually put you in line with the dinosaurs.


Adapt or die.  It will eventually be that simple and focusing only on marketing the 'old' way will guarantee your eventual extinction.

It may not be sudden, it may not be a killer newspaper asteroid that wipes you out, but it will be a slow menacing walk into the shadows if you don't come out of the dark ages and embrace what's only now just starting to drastically shape this industry.


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. D B 04/18/2009 12:25 PM
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Marcie Purcell
Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Cassidon Realty - Quakertown, PA
Realtor, Bucks & Montgomery Co PA

Nick, Good Post. I hate when you go on a listing appt and then for some reason didn't get it then you see it sitting there 30 days later with no pictures or room sizes. Buyers will just look right by them. At least LVARMLS makes you put at least 1. Trend doesn't have that. I love to see no room sizes, no pictures, and no description when properties are on the expired list.  I have to disagree with newspaper ads don't work. If they have enough info people will call. By the way I still read the newspaper and I'm under 35. Mailings work if you are doing right - database & farm.


Jan 13, 2009 06:46 AM #1
Scott Geary
Infinity Home Mortgage Company Inc - Allentown, PA
Your Pennsylvania Mortgage Source

Hey Nick! Long time no see!

Newspapers.....gone.......say it ain't so!!! My mornings would be lost without the local rag spread across my kitchen table accompanied by my cup of Joe!!! Seriously, well done Nick. Many, many on point issues that it seems several Realtors seem to miss on. Pictures being the biggest miss in my opinion. After all, we were all kids once right!

Jan 13, 2009 07:21 AM #2
Richard Ives
Chicago, IL

Great post Nick. Happy New Year!

Jan 13, 2009 08:09 AM #3
Johnathan Mullaney
Village Land Shoppe - Flagstaff, AZ
Broker, Flagstaff Real Estate

These REO agents are so overwhelmed they are only putting 1 picture on and not filling out the entire details, it's tough, people need more. However these listings usually sell themselves with the price.

Jan 13, 2009 01:16 PM #4
Linda Tremblay
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc, PA License #AB065488 - Doylestown, PA
Associate Broker - Bucks County, PA Real Estate Services

I agree that marketing certainly has a huge impact on the sale of the listing. Don't forge maintainance.  Getting rid of clutter, cleaning the front door and the foyer. My partner Marcie was showing homes lately and they were in discusting shape.  No wonder they are not selling.

Jan 13, 2009 11:02 PM #5
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty Beatrice Associates - Middleton, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

I so believe in good photgraphy of our listings....  I created a series of photogrpahy tips on my blog that I believe are worth a look

Jan 14, 2009 01:26 AM #6
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Marcie - I cannot agree more and thanks!  When you lose a listing and then see how badly the agent who got it markets it, you just want to blow your head off.   As for the newspaper, personally, I don't want any aspect of that business.  With it getting more and more expensive to advertise in, I'd rather deal with the online consumer at all costs.  The PA Home Buyers and Sellers Survey that just came out showed basically a 3% return rate for newspapers.  While it's obvious the system works for you and probably others, I want no part of that medium anymore.

Scott - Yup...this year I believe will be the point of no return for newspapers.  There's even talk starting to bubble up of America's holy bastion of news possibly going under by May, The New York Times. That would definitely set the tone for the rest of the papers in the country, for sure.  See the additional link I posted about the 'End Times' for the New York Times. It's a very good read about the industry as a whole and how it could collapse in a heartbeat.

Rich - THANKS!

Johnathan - Still hard to swallow all one may muster is one picture.  REO or not, every home on the market deserves a good picture amount.   But, I do see your point, if the cost is so low, ultimately that will trump the photo issue...again why price is always # 1.

Linda - Couldn't agree more as well.   If the house is ultimately disgusting, it will absolutely turn most people away.  It would take a special kind of buyer to see through all the clutter.  I still think pictures are needed to help the online listing, but you are right, once someone walks through the house...if they actually do, that will be the defining moment for the buyer.   Not easy to do, especially if there are smells or really big problems.   It truly is amazing how filthy some people live.   Makes me really respect those who do keep a nice house. 

Kevin - Thanks and I will check out your post!

Jan 14, 2009 02:25 AM #7
Johnathan Mullaney
Village Land Shoppe - Flagstaff, AZ
Broker, Flagstaff Real Estate


So we got number one and two, what's three?


Jan 14, 2009 01:35 PM #8
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Johnathan - I hate to say this, but my # 3 would probably be the actual agent and their personal sales abilities.   My case would be based around the lack of communication seen today, possibly their negotiation skills, or a general combination of both.

Jan 16, 2009 02:03 AM #9
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