In real estate, we often use the term “under market” to describe a home that is priced or purchased for less than it’s fair market value. But I sometimes see an unrelated real estate phenomenon I think Webster would rank as a second definition for “under-marketing”: to list a home and fail to mention features the homes have, which buyers would have been attracted to, had they seen them in the home’s listing description, flyer or online marketing.
For example, my first home was a very modest rancher, lots of fixing needed, located in a quiet part of town that I’d never heard of. At my agent’s insistence, I finally went to see it. Only then did I realize that the property just so happened to be situated with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. Bizarrely enough, this massive selling point had not received even a passing mention in the listing!
If your average listing has commercial-grade European appliances, sits on acres of land, or is in the most prestigious neighborhood in town, it’s pretty easy to know what to lead with in the marketing. But if you are listing a normal house in a normal neighborhood, there could very well be things that are easy to overlook (and under-market) which a first-time or relocating buyer might be magnetically drawn to – if you mention it in the listing and marketing materials.
More importantly, it can be important to search for and ask about these features, as sellers often leave them out, during the listing appointment.
When aiming to avoid under-marketing, keep this in mind: showcasing a home in its best light is not just about touting what you think buyers will absolutely love about it. Rather, the goal of good marketing is to highlight the things that will allow the home’s best features – even if they’re less-than-overwhelming – to be apparent in the eyes of target buyers and against the competition.
If you have a nondescript listing that you’re struggling to showcase, consider the angle of broadcasting the ways in which your listing offers a more comfortable lifestyle than the competition. First-time buyers, for example, are not simply comparing your listing to other homes, they are also comparing it to the lifestyle of being a renter and to every bad rental property that inspired them to move forward with becoming a homeowner. One very common beef of renters is that rental homes lack storage, which leads to belonging overflow and a cluttered life.
The vision of having a place for storing everything is a big motivator for many first-time home buyers. So, if your listing has been tricked out with extra closets, pantries or other built-in storage amenities, boast about them in the home’s marketing materials.
2. Organizing systems.
In the same vein, if your sellers have made the investment in upgrading the home with customized or built-in closet, kitchen or garage organizer systems, desks or bookshelves, make sure buyers see and know this from the online listing. From the first-timer craving to have a clutter-free existence to buyers who are moving up into a family home and want each family member to have some shot at an orderly life, built-in organizers can represent value and appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers.
Built-in organizers are strong differentiators in competitive markets and price ranges. And most agents do mention them on a home’s flyer or property website, but not necessarily in the critically important listing description that shows up in buyer’s Trulia search results. Consider bubbling such systems closer to the top of the marketing messages you lead with.
3. Proximity specifics.
You might be thinking the right buyers for your listing will be finding it online precisely because of where it’s located. But it’s not necessarily redundant or overkill to call out a property’s proximity to amenities and attractions, by name. Some buyers simply might not know to drill their searches down by zip code, or might not be aware that a hidden gem of a neighborhood also happens to be tucked within a half mile of a subway station, entrances to 3 freeways and 2 regional parks. Second, buyers’ proximity wishes might be different than the location requirements of their online search. They might be looking at all homes in town in their price range, but the fact that your listing is walking distance to a major employer or university could push it to the top of their “must view” list.
Finally, relocating buyers might not have the core knowledge of the area that would allow them to connect the dots about the property based on location basics most folks in the market for a home in your area do know. Don’t assume: if your listing is particularly well-located vis-a-vis major employers, universities, recreational amenities or walkable shopping and dining districts, talk with your seller about showcasing this in the home’s marketing, even if it seems redundant or obvious.
4. Senior-friendly features.
Boomers are not necessarily looking for homes with built-in disability features, but they are often looking for homes they could live in for the rest of their lives, “aging in-place,” without having to necessarily move to a senior-only communities. That means homes with level-in entrances (no stairs to the front door), single story layouts and low-maintenance landscaping have a massive new audience attracted to these features which would otherwise not warrant a mention in a home’s marketing, especially if homes near your listing tend to have loads of stairs or other features that are difficult for people to navigate as they age.
Similarly, the movement toward aging-in-place has caused many more families to move aging relatives in with them, versus moving them out to retirement homes. These extended families often are looking for homes with a very well-appointed “mother-in-law” or “outlaw” units or a second master suite located on the home’s ground floor. If your listing has multiple bedrooms with bathrooms en suite or completely independent living quarters, marketing these features to extended families is a must.
5. Energy efficiencies.
If your listing runs entirely off-the-grid or on graywater, chances are good you’ll be marketing that. But even buyers who don’t identify as hunting for a “green” home can be attracted to the budget-friendliness of energy-efficient features of the less extreme sort. So, if the home is a pretty no-frills property but has a tankless water heater, dual-paned windows and new insulation, mention it! Also, if your seller has managed to get their energy bills down way below what’s normal in your area, this could be a selling point you don’t want to overlook.
Instead, help your sellers navigate how to deliver this message to buyers.
6. “Light” green lifestyle features.
If your listing has been configured to allow inhabitants to live a greener life, beyond just the energy bills, these might warrant a mention in your marketing. You might think things like a little organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin or that $50 recycling center you installed are so low in cash value they don’t rate a line in your listing materials. But there are loads of buyers out there who are attracted to these sorts of features already being in place in a home, so calling them out (especially if you’re in a market with tons of competition) can call your listing to their attention.
7. Natural, chemical-free and hypoallergenic home maintenance.
In a similar vein, if your listing has a hypoallergenic HVAC system or have only used non-chemical cleaning products for the last few years, you might want to call these sorts of things out, as well. Today’s consumers are careful about not just what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on and around their bodies. Homes and the cleaning and maintenance products that have been used in may implicate both “on” and “around,” so if your seller has taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure light-green buyers know it!
WRITTEN BYTara-Nicholle NelsonMore about Tara-Nicholle Nelson