Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Nine Year-Old Photo On A Current Home For Sale Ad?

Here is another example of what happens when agents advertise listings and don't bother to check every source.

A 4 bedroom 2 1/2 bath home on Chicago's West Side being listed "As Is" for $52,000 would seem to be able to attract attention from contractors, investors, and flippers throughout the region.

However, the advertisement remains online 255 days later (as of press time). If the listing agent doesn't care enough to update the ad, it only adds more doubt to a potential buyer.

The first impression a potential buyer sees is the primary photo with a huge tree blocking the view of the front of the house (other than the stairs and front entrance). Under the photo is a date from November 2006, more than nine years ago.

Further down, the statistics show a population listed as being 41,845 along with additional household statistics. The street address shown is in Chicago proper, which has more than 3,000,000 population.

If the first statistic people see is nowhere near accurate, how can any of the others be trusted?

This advertisement indicates there may be liens and/or violations that a buyer would be financially responsible for. Someone thinking about this type of property would likely know how and where to perform the research to determine what the other costs may be and can make some decisions as to whether or not to proceed.

However, when the information is not accurate, the photo is years old (or the date is wrong and was not corrected), and the photo gives a poor view, chances are a potential buyer will not even bother to pursue anything further.

Swapping an updated photo from a better angle and editing a few facts could make a huge difference in presenting this property to potential buyers.

And there is more that is wrong with this listing. Further down, under loan information, rates are shown from a local Chicago bank (not a regional or national bank), yet the disclaimer refers to a "California Department of Real Estate" license number. Again, this home is shown as being in Chicago, more than 2,000 miles away.

How is this allowed?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When A "Price Reduction" Ad Is Not Enough......

Here is more proof that it sometimes takes more than a $20,000 price reduction to get some action on a home for sale. In this case, not much more.

While researching Chicago's north side, I came upon an ad for a home which showed this price reduction announced within the past 10 days. I clicked on it to see what the listing agent had to say about it within her listing ad description.

The price reduction showed as having been implemented on Feb. 4th. I looked at the ad on Feb. 16th.

What were the FIRST words of the description copy?

I quote: "OPEN SUNDAY 11/29/15, 1:00-3:00! May not be yard sign installed yet."

Sorry to report that this agent, while updating for the price reduction, and having appeared to have an updated primary photo (always a plus), totally overlooked adjusting the description copy in the process:

This home has some outstanding features. However, when one can easily get the first impression that it has been on the market for more than two and one-half months and still hasn't sold even with a $20,000 price reduction, it makes a potential buyer wonder if it is even worth reading the remainder of the description.

All that was needed here was to remove the first part of the copy, and (hopefully) do some updating of the current content, and this ad would have been a respectable (at worst) representation of this property.

Instead, it becomes more of a negative than a positive. This has nothing to do with the latest local trends or home sale statistics. Plain and simple, it has everything to do with how it is marketed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Agents Should Be Well "Schooled" In Their Community

As my office continues to research the real estate market and property ads around the country, it's good to notice that more information than ever is available about many of the school systems. For many families, the neighborhood they will look at for a new home is often influenced by the quality of the schools.

Those areas with especially solid schools could easily benefit by this type of publicity, especially within specific home sale advertisements.

Here is one example of research now available, as presented for a county in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area:

If it were up to me, every two or more bedroom home for sale within these top three schools (out of 20) should be pointing out its proximity to that school within the property description!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Good and Bad Publicity - At The Same Time

This newspaper story about Corpus Christi home sales is an excellent read, talking about how nearly 1,000 homes within one single zip code were sold in 2015. That is a positive for that area, and the additional research showing home sales in various local zip codes is one of the more interesting statistics provided on home sales data. 

However, for whatever reason, the newspaper decided to use a photo for the story which shows garbage dumpsters, garbage cans on their side laying in the street, and porta-potties. Not exactly a flattering photo for their area.

After all, I saw this story from more than 1,000 miles away, and have personally never been to Corpus Christi. No matter how many homes are selling in certain areas, the photo used along with the story doesn't exactly make me want to go there. How would this help someone to want to buy a home there?

Just as with property advertisements, real estate content needs to have the best possible photo, with some thought behind it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why Homes For Sale Ads Need To Be Updated More Often

It is no secret that the majority of real estate professionals embrace the new technology. However, there still needs to be plenty of change when it comes to adapting the new technology to how properties are marketed.


As you know, parts of the east coast, especially the Washington D.C./Baltimore region, was socked with a severe snowstorm less than two weeks ago. Those of us who have experienced a significant snowstorm know that some communities are able to dig out more quickly and/or become more functional faster than others when this happens.


Chances are that you have an opinion, one way or the other, on how your community handles recovering from a major storm or weather event.


If you are happy with how it is handled surrounding your home, and are looking to sell, this is something worth pointing out to potential buyers. At least it should be.


Those of you who have been reading this column over the past seven years know that I have often done a search days after a major weather event in order to see how many property advertisements have been updated to show any “positive” results.


With this in mind, this afternoon I did a specific price range search, using, for the Washington D.C. suburb of College Park MD, one of the hardest hit areas of the recent major snow storm.


I wanted to see for myself, nearly two weeks later, how many of the property ads were updated, or even just added, since the big storm.


My search turned up 23 homes currently available and which had addresses and a primary photo within the advertisement.


Of those 23, I then counted how many of those primary photos had snow in them. The total number that did: ZERO.


Instead, we see these homes with their lawns in full glory. Of course, this is far from what the outsides of these homes look like this afternoon!


Perhaps I’m being harsh, but I happen to not think so. If even a few of these ads had snow in the photos, I would have an idea that people are able to navigate through College Park without a problem and that the storm recovery is going smoothly.

Instead, my impression is that not one agent or seller wants anyone outside of the area to see how bad conditions still are in that area. Sure, that may be an unrealistic assessment.


However, it is far from unrealistic to expect that nobody cares enough to update so much as a photo. We are past the days when you would have to get a photo in to the local paper four days ahead of time and it simply “isn’t ready” yet.


Remember, the “instant” technology exists. I have personally driven and taken a couple of new photos of a marketing client’s listing, driven back to my office, and updated ads online within one hour’s time. As helpful as I can be, doing that is not a unique talent. Especially when I’m not even a realty agent!


I’ll take this one step further. One of the properties I found is this one:



This is a supposed “motivated seller” featuring an empty house that shows nothing but a green lawn outside. These photos are MONTHS behind. How motivated is that seller and his/her agent?


While it is true that often does not update as much as other sites which advertise properties do, believe me when I tell you that you will find the same thing happening all over if you search the areas impacted by the recent storm.


Photos of properties for sale should be updated as often as possible to reflect current conditions. Let’s take advantage of this technology.