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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The #1 Mistake of Sellers: Not Checking Out Their Home’s Online Presence

[Published Sept. 20, 2012, in the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

I really wish every seller would do just one thing—go online and see how their home is being presented.  Most sellers know little more about the marketing of their home than how the sign looks in their yard and how the brochure (if there is one) looks in their brochure box.

I believe that the marketing of homes for sale would improve dramatically if each seller merely Googled their home address and checked their home’s online presence.

Two years ago, Metrolist, the local MLS, dramatically increased the length of description that could be written about each listing, but some agents continue to write as if they are limited to three lines of copy.  Here’s a description of a listing that I came across on the MLS just last week: “Gorg.Loc.* Fab.Hm WIncred.Bones&Character*Rare,Oversized 3car*Vaults  &Beams*Hgrms Thruout*4bedrms upstairs**HgEquitybldr*Grtofficewbkshelves*Lg.Laund.Rm*Htwaterheat*2fp*Plankflrsnfamrm*Alarm*Prime lot*Hurrywontlast!”

I can’t help but wonder whether the seller has seen this online description of their home and what they’d think. If I forwarded this listing to a buyer, I think I’d have to translate it into English first!

Pictures, when they exist at all, are sometimes of very poor quality, or a vertical picture may be uploaded sideways.  If a listing has just been entered, I can understand why there might be no pictures, but often I encounter old listings with no pictures. (Myself, I always wait until I have all pictures and video tour ready before I put a listing on the MLS.)

As a Realtor, I have an ethical obligation to alert a fellow agent to any errors in their listing, and I’ll also send a friendly email, asking the agent if he/she is aware that his/her MLS listing has no pictures. One agent, in reply, said I should look at an earlier expired listing of the house to see pictures!

Agents who list bank owned properties often cut corners, especially on pictures, knowing that their seller has never seen the house and won’t notice a poor marketing effort or minimal data entry on the MLS.  So, that’s what those listings usually get.

I’ll be criticized by some fellow Realtors for writing this column, because our Code of Ethics prohibits criticism of fellow Realtors. In this column, it could be said that I am doing just that, but I feel that I am criticizing patterns of behavior and not particular agents. I even modified that cryptic MLS description to make the home and agent less identifiable.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they thanked me instead of making ethics allegations?

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