Selling a Home in Lake Forest (in today’s Challenging market!)

Behind the scenes.  My daily checking of the MLS “Hot Sheet” has provided me with a lot of insight on how many agents are clueless about the importance of putting their listing in the best light when it is new on the market.  They don’t seem to understand the fact that your listing is only NEWfor one day, so you need to make the most of it.  Many times after viewing the new listings, I think, “I bet the seller has NO idea what their agent just did, and how much it will probably cost them!”  

To appreciate the negative impact of these errors, you have to understand how the MLS system works. 

1 – Listing agent enters the listing in the MLS.

2 – The buyers who are serious are on “email alert” and get a notification that a new property has just come on in their size and price range.

3 – Buyers look at the email and see no description, no photos, and just the check-the-box details.  Buyers delete email (Seller just lost a chance for a motivated buyer to consider it).

Sorry NO Photo

4 – Local agents check the “Hot Sheet” for new listings, see the lack of description, lack of photos, and then go look at the next property listed on the hot sheet. (Seller lost another chance to have the property viewed by agents who might bring the buyer!)

At that point, the listing agent just lost the best opportunity to have the most interest generated in his new listing, and he blew it!

Usually, the photos are the last thing to be done after the sellers have taken care of all the de-cluttering and staging before putting a house on the market, but in the SoCal MLS, the agent can begin entering the data and build up the info over several days while keeping it from showing up in the MLS “before it’s ready for prime time.” 

Step 1 – Listing Agent can set up the basic info into the MLS form, as soon as the listing contract has been signed by the seller.  The basic information includes the address, numbers of rooms, physical size, year built, lot size, current property tax assessment,  (much of it “auto-populated” from the tax data base).  There are also a lot of “check the box” fields such as: Pool, Air Conditioning, Fireplace, # of Garage Door Openers, School District, Separate Dining Room, Homeowner’s Association Dues, HOA recreation facilities, etc.  Other information to be entered originally can be the showing instructions, lockbox location, owner’s phone number, agent’s contact info, etc.  So far, this information is simply facts, not marketing.  (Some agents simply load this raw data without any description or photos and click the button to make it live on the MLS.) 

Step 2 – This begins the marketing task of the MLS property listing input.  It is the least expensive marketing for the agent, but probably the most valuable and critical.  The remarks in the description shows up on all the IDX websites where potential buyers are looking.  The purpose of writing this is to make it sound attractive to the buyers.  Features and benefits need to be emphasized, such as “fabulous sunset view” or “just one block to best elementary school,” in addition to remarks about the condition of the home.  “Hardwood floors, updated appliances, remodeled bathrooms, dual-paned windows, large yard, sparkling pool,” etc.  paint a picture in the mind of the potential buyer reading it. Abbreviations should be avoided, or at least minimized, so that someone outside the real estate industry can understand what you are saying, and not be distracted trying to decode the information.  The motivation of the seller should never be revealed in a description, nor should the phrase “reduced to sell!”  Reducing the price may be necessary, but by declaring that it was “just reduced” translates to “we started out greedy or stupid ….”  

Step 3 – Provide good photos and lots of them!  The SoCal MLS allows up to 20 photos per property, plus a virtual tour.  If you have included remarks in the description section about some fabulous upgrade, feature, or view, don’t forget to include a photo of that!  Some agents prefer to use a photography service or virtual tour service to take the photos of the house.  These photos are usually very good quality, but the number of them may be limited.  The photographer’s schedule may also mean having to wait for 10 days to 2 weeks.  If the weather is overcast or raining, he won’t get those beautiful views, or blue sky backgrounds.  Even if using a professional photographer, the listing agent should take preliminary photos to include with the listing the FIRST DAY it is on the MLS.  If it isn’t ready for photos, then it isn’t ready to be seen by buyers or agents. 

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