With more than 5000 licensed realtors, Calgary is a very competitive market for real estate agents. So to ensure they are getting noticed, some realtors devote a huge budget to marketing. However, in our opinion, some real estate marketing is somewhat misleading. Case in point, when are marketing dollars spent on promoting selling a home, and when are these marketing dollars intended for the promotion of the realtor?
Huge marketing budgets don’t necessarily sell a home
Many realtors spend large budgets on marketing, with some agents even spending tens of thousands of dollars per month. While large marketing budgets may sound impressive, it most often means that these marketing dollars are spent on promoting oneself as a realtor, not on selling homes. There is a great difference between the two. Thus, a realtor may be using your home for their publicity.
The MLS automatically showcases every home for sale on thousands of websites
To explain why marketing dollars are often used more for self-promotion rather than for the marketing of homes, we need to explain a bit more about the MLS, The Multiple Listing Service.
A home listed on the MLS showcases automatically on thousands of websites
The MLS is owned by the CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association, which also owns the website Realtor.ca. Every realtor who lists a home enters exact data of a home: price, size, number of bedrooms, type of siding, basement development etc. Besides these facts, a realtor also has a limited amount of characters to describe a property and a maximum of 50 photos can be uploaded. All this information, including the photos, gets uploaded to the MLS by the listing realtor, only once. It is then the IDX, Internet Data Exchange, that makes it possible that all this MLS information gets displayed on every website that uses this IDX software. This IDX is merely an agreement, as in reciprocity, to be able to display every agent’s listing on every website.
In Calgary alone, thousands of realtors own a website, some even own multiple websites, that display every home for sale. In short your home gets listed by one realtor, but it showcases automatically on thousands of websites.
Why large marketing budgets don’t necessarily sell your home faster
These days, most people, if not all, start their search for a new home on the internet, usually on realtor.ca or any agent’s website, with parameters such as price, square footage, number of bedrooms etc. As explained earlier, thousands of websites show the exact same property information, which comes from only one source, the MLS.
Besides listing a home on the MLS, realtors are quite limited in promoting a property in different ways. A few ways to differentiate in marketing a home could be with professional photography, glossy brochures, open houses, newspaper ads and advertising on social media.
Using the MLS versus promoting a home for sale via social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google ads can certainly offer exposure. However, unless extremely high budgets are spent on online advertising, it is difficult to get even near the public reach of the MLS. We can’t say it is impossible to sell a home via social media only, but percentage wise the chance to find a buyer via social media is extremely slim. Therefore, most online advertising is focused on generating leads, and finding potential buyers and sellers for agents.
Selling a home via an open house
The chance of selling a home via an open house is extremely small
The chance of selling a home via an open house only is extremely small. In Calgary, it is less than 1 percent. The internet is likely the cause of this because now buyers can view homes via high resolution images and virtual tours. Added to that, more than 95% of buyers have their own buying realtor to view homes in a more private setting. Nowadays, open houses are usually meant for realtors to find new buyers who are browsing the market while unrepresented.
Marketing a home with professional photography and virtual tours
It is our personal experience that virtual tours sometimes let buyers decide not to view a home personally
To us, it is a “no brainer” that photography of a home should be done by a professional. The only danger with professional photography is, in our opinion, that sometimes the home shows much better and larger in the photos than in reality. Therefore, buyer’s expectations may evaporate once they enter the home and notice the home is not as bright and spacious as in the photos. However, we also believe it is still better to disappoint a buyer than to miss out on a potential viewing because of bad images.
The power of virtual tours is, in our opinion, overrated. It is our personal experience that virtual tours let buyers decide not to view a home personally because they already ‘have seen the home’ online. This way a seller may miss out on a personal viewing. And we believe every home has a feel and can’t be judged by technology.
Newspaper, billboard, bus bench ads and glossy brochures don’t sell your home
Realtors are allowed to advertise homes from other agents to be able to show a more impressive portfolio
With most buyers starting their search on the internet, in combination with the power of the MLS, advertising a home in magazines and newspapers is mostly a waste of marketing dollars. The very few magazines and newspapers that do still showcase real estate advertisements are, in our opinion, merely to promote the agent, not to promote the home. Realtors are allowed to advertise homes from other agents to be able to show a more impressive portfolio, as long as the property is for sale within the same brokerage. Furthermore, ads on bus benches and billboards very clearly promote the realtor.
What better ways could a realtor offer value, than with a high marketing budget?
Strong negotiation skills from the realtor can save a seller thousands of dollars
High marketing budgets may sound impressive, but skills and traits are much more important when selling a home faster and for more dollars. Strong negotiation skills from the realtor can save a seller thousands of dollars. Pricing skills of a realtor are important to price a home right from the “get-go”, so the home doesn’t get market stale. With pricing comes the interpretation of the current statistics and the knowledge of the current market. Communication with the client and fellow realtors is important and time availability is often key when it comes to communications. Many agents in Calgary work part time in real estate and have a job on the side, which may limit time, dedication and experience. Accuracy is another vital trait in real estate. The public searches by parameters. So, for example, listing two bedrooms, while in fact there are three bedrooms, or missing a bathroom makes a seller miss out on many potential buyers. And honesty, integrity and trust are very important in any business. Any realtor signs off on the fact that s/he is fully in the corner of seller and works in the seller’s best interest at all times.
Which part of marketing sells your home?
Marketing budgets may be big or small. Besides listing a home for sale on the MLS, all kinds of added marketing efforts may or may not help sell a home. The question is: which part of these marketing budgets is promoting a particular home for sale or merely promoting a realtor? Many marketing efforts may be seen to be necessary components of selling a home when, in fact, they are not.