Last time on the blog, we ran you through the wackiest property listings in Australia.
This time around, we thought we'd shine a light on the saner end of property listings, giving you a guide to the best practices adopted by modern agents.
Having worked with properties across the country, the team at Sellable are well-versed in everything real estate, from valuing, to listing, to selling. However, what underscores our process is a deep understanding of market insights and how to appeal to key audiences.
To keep things simple, we've broken down the guide into six main sections:
- General Principles—Know Your Suburb
- Listing Pocket Picks—Writing Your Listing and Getting Great Photos
- The Importance of Transparency
- Where to List
- The Cherry on Top—Videos Walkthroughs, Drones and more!
- A New Way to Sell
Know Your Suburb
Two assessments should inform your listing decision-making: qualitative and quantitative.
(What Your gut Says)
Understand the demand drivers behind the suburbs you operate in.
Think about your target audience. Who lives here? What do they care about? What amenities/points of interest are nearby?
Different groups (retirees/downsizers, young families, investors) have different needs. Spreading your marketing thin, and appealing to a general audience, can be effective; but you'll bring in stronger leads by targeting specific groups throughout the process, from how you stage the house to the picture you paint in the listing description. In the end, you have to balance widespread attraction and specific appeal, to get the best quality leads without sacrificing quantity.
realestate.com.au, domain.com.au and airbnb.com.au are great starting resources for suburb info including: demographics, geography, key landmarks and the general vibe/lifestyle of the neighbourhood. The first two also have information about proximity to amenities.
Airbnb offers quick summaries of neighbourhoods, as well as in-depth descriptions including unique selling points.
With this info in your pocket, it's up to you to make a personal assessment on what the key demand drivers are. Thankfully, your final decision can be made much easier with straight facts:
(What the Numbers Tell you)
Make your decisions and recommendations based on real data insights and actual facts and figures
For a successful sale, you need to have a good understanding of the competitive environment in the suburb you're listing in. This will tell you not just how to price and present the property, but also what methods you can use to stand out against the other listings.
- How many properties are currently listed?
- What does the turnover & DOM look like? Are listings stale or fresh?
- How do these numbers look for directly comparable properties?
- What do these numbers look like for alternate suburbs?
- How many visits does the average property get?
- What's your historic visit to inspection conversion rate?
Next, you'll want to look at how comparable properties in this suburb are priced and presented. Presentation in particular provides a way to stand out. If all properties are professionally styled and photographed then this is a must for your listing too—if they aren't, you can capture more interest by going a step beyond your competitors.
Setting the initial range is a complex topic. You want to hook potential buyers with an attractive lower end in order to build competition and then drive buyers up the range to the aspirational top end.
Setting too high an initial range is one of the most common mistakes we've seen in the industry. Once you've lost the initial momentum, it's very hard to regain it and the property may need a full relift. This means new staging furniture, pictures, or even some cosmetic improvements, before listing the property again with a more achievable range. Use momentum (a busy open) to drive FOMO — Fear of Missing Out — and convince potential buyers that were previously on the fence to put in an offer, before someone else does!
Of course, your client needs to be comfortable with the range you are suggesting, and willing to accept an offer at the lower end if buyers won't move up.
Ensuring these principles are the backbone of your approach will give you a competitive advantage in a fluctuating market, and ensure you are commended by your clients for an honest, results-driven approach.
Listing Pocket Picks
Despite today's saturated market, many long-standing strategies have remained as pocket picks for successful agents, particularly with respect to the copy of the listing and the images featured.
When it comes to describing the property, there are a few key pointers:
- Talk about benefits, not features
- Focus on telling a story - what makes this property special + rare
- Help potential buyers imagine the lifestyle they can enjoy in the property/area
- Consider your target audience (e.g. retirees/downsizers vs young families)
When it comes to the process, follow these two simple steps:
Research and Info Dump
You’ll want to find out and then list the following in a document:
- Major benefits - list everything that comes to mind
- Improvements made to the property that are worth mentioning
- Area description & proximity to amenities
Write Your Listing
Organise that information into this simple template structure; it will help you build a strong foundation.
Headline: Write 5-10 examples and then pick the best - the more eye-grabbing the better.
Hookline: Summarise the property in an enticing way. This often resembles a fleshed-out headline (which can help in picking the best one).
Major Selling Point (MSP): Pick the top 1 or 2 of the benefits and improvements you listed earlier, and highlight them in a couple of sentences.
Secondary Selling Point (SSP): Describe the 3rd (and perhaps 4th) best major benefit in a couple of sentences.
Property Highlights: 6-10 dot points summarising property features. Here you should list the benefits you’ve already highlighted, but also other important features you haven't yet mentioned, such as laundry, air-conditioning, type of internet access.
Lifestyle (Area/Proximity): Describe suburb, street & proximity to shops, schools, transport.
This template is a great starting point to help you succinctly describe your property, but at the end of the day it's up to you to add your own pizzazz. Below is a quick example of how seamless this template can be applied. The headline of this property in Engadine NSW was 'Open-Plan Family Paradise With Pool.'
Stage the House
Staging the house can make a pivotal impact to your listing and the sale of the property. It's crucial to let buyers see the potential the space offers and picture themselves living there.
- Give the home a facelift
- Clear clutter
- Move furniture away from walls
- Let there be light!
- Dress the house with artwork
- Focus on key rooms
- Get the proportions right
When the house has a particular stand-out feature, such as a large open-plan living space or an alfresco entertaining area, make sure you present them superbly to truly highlight what the house looks like as a home.
Get Professional Photos & A Floor Plan
Hire a trusted photographer. Get professional photos. It's that simple.
Your photography brief is also simple;
- Take bright photos that emphasise the spaciousness of each major room.
- Make sure there's a really good photo of the major benefit/feature of the property to use as the leading photo on your listing.
A floor plan is also a must; it showcases the entire property and helps potential buyers understand the property's set-up and general dimensions. This leads us to our next topic:
Although it's important to ensure you have an enticing description with picturesque images to match, you should also be honest and transparent.
While it's common practice to gloss over the less appealing aspects of a property, it’s important that buyers do become aware of the ins and outs.
Too often a glossy presentation lets prospective buyers build up an expectation in their mind that simply does not match reality. This can result in disappointment, leading to 'revolving door' open homes where plenty of people turn up, but there are no offers. Once again, it's a careful balancing act.
Transparency = Stronger Leads
Want a truly golden listing? Take a creative, outside-the-box approach to pitching the home.
An example is 112 Central Rd, Avalon Beach, where Agents Elle Taylor and Stephanie Hammond from Shores Real Estate were tasked with selling a home that had been ‘let go’ and vacant for years. In fact, “every inch of the house was full of stuff” to the point where “it was just unphotographable inside.”
Here’s a snippet of their listing:
Packed to the Rafters with Opportunity! Not far short of a quarter-acre block (919 sqm) of prime, level land, a walk to the beach, village, parks, schools and buses. Generous lawns, and plenty of off-street parking … There’s a house too. But there’s no point in beating around the bush here … it’s hard to see. It’s full of stuff, and needs to be viewed as something of an unknown. It’s a bit of an expedition through the Amazon rainforest, without the leeches … bring a torch. Pith helmet and machete optional.
Their humorous approach paid off. The property was initially listed with a bidding guide of 1.3 mill, though it sold for 1.53 mill well before the auction date. It’s clear that honesty, humour and just the right sales pitch can transform a listing that would otherwise be swept under the rug.
Where to List
Whilst traditional print advertising is no longer the bread and butter tactic of agents, it definitely still has its place.
When choosing the paper to advertise in, it's important to consider all options, the price and the readership demographic. Newspapers are good for reaching the older audience, and community newspapers will give you a local, targeted and reasonably engaged readership. There are also more niche options that can be effective such as investment-focused or culturally-specific papers with strong readership, such as Chinese Sydney Property Weekly. Websites such as http://www.newspapers.com.au are a great starting point to find local papers.
Before advertising with a paper, always ask them for their media information pack or brand profile. This will give you the information on the suburbs in their distribution area, and print readership vs the total area population. Many will have other useful information including demographic split (retirees, families, singles), average household income and level of education of their readers.
From there you can determine whether it’s worth the cost. Print is still relatively expensive, and you may find it cheaper and more effective to stick to online ads.
However, if you do opt for print—ALWAYS NEGOTIATE advertising rates with newspapers. Their rate card is not fixed, and you’ll be surprised with the discounts you can achieve with the right approach and a bundle deal (we’re talking 50%+, not small change!)
Window displays are another classic way to list properties. These displays draw the attention of people nearby and can often act as a lead gen tool for both buyers and sellers. Of course, their effectiveness is subject to the nature of your office, the thoroughfare and the amount of foot traffic.
But whilst these still have their place, the real way to shine has contemporarily shifted to online advertising.
Major Listing Portals
When it comes to online listing portals, the two best are indisputable:
Put your listings on here, use the tips above and you are very likely to have people at your open homes. You will incur subscription costs for listing on these platforms, but they are a sound investment and you will struggle without them. They are simply the go to's.
If you can only choose one, our recommendation is to opt for REA. From our data, REA accounts for 70% of the total views of our listings (for the same cost as our domain account). In saying this, the combination of a quality listing on REA and Domain does maximise overall open home traffic, and gets good momentum, so budget permitting we'd suggest a subscription to both.
If you are working with a larger marketing budget, both platforms also offer premium listings, which will put your property at the top of the feed and in front of more faces. Whilst we personally subscribe to a lean marketing philosophy (that a standard, quality listing can generate results), the premium listing can definitely be worthwhile if you are in need of a quick sale or have been struggling to sell the property .
Other Portal Options
If you want the upper hand with your listings then you need a strong social media presence.
Your own Pages
Setting yourself up with a page on Facebook is a must. Other platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are useful subsidary promotion avenues once you've built a reputation. On your page, you'll want to regularly post the properties you're selling, whether that's photos, video walkthroughs or links to the REA/Domain listing. When you first make the page, invite your friends and family to like/follow. From there, there are a number of tactics you'll need to adopt to grow your following and drive engagement with the listings you post.
This can be in the form of an official review on your page or a picture/video testimonial. These are a great source of validation/lead gen. A common strategy is to tag a previous customer and encourage them to share/interact with the post (this will spread it to their friend-base).
Post Engaging Content
Standard listings are okay, but what will really engage people is your other interesting content: how-to's, local news, community info or events. Whether it's videos, blogs or just great photos, it will establish your relevance and build trust with your userbase.
Creating and growing your own can be difficult, but engaging with relevant groups such as suburb-specific community ones is a great way to start establishing yourself and build rapport with potential customers.
Find groups by putting keywords (like suburbs) in the Facebook search bar then filtering by 'groups.' Alternatively, head to https://www.facebook.com/groups, click discover and look through local community groups.
Facebook ads are incredibly powerful and offer unrivalled and diverse targeting options (if you know how to use them).
Targeting key Audiences
Investors? Young families? Downsizers? Facebook will help you target these audiences. However, if it's your first time running ads, we'd recommend starting with a simple geo-targeting campaign.
Put in the suburbs you want to target, toggle the settings to those that live there, put in a relevant age bracket and then narrow that audience down to those interested in buying a house. There are A LOT of options in targeting, with trial and error being your best friend here. A great and comprehensive guide to FB ads can be found here. Whilst the examples there are for the US, the lessons are transferable to Oz.
Drive Traffic to Your Listing
Create an ad which links to your listing on REA, Domain or your own website. Since you already have the copy, you don't need to do a lot, just rework it slightly to fit succinctly into a Facebook ad. The ads manager will let you know how the post performs (number of click-throughs, cost etc) and give you further insights into the quality of your listing and audience targeting.
Lead gen Through Facebook
Alternatively, you can put your entire listing in a carousel-style, lead-gen Facebook ad. Here, customers can look through the photos and then put in their name, number and email if they like the look of the place. From here, you follow up with them as a regular lead.
The Cherry on top
The hard truth is that agents working in competitive areas are investing more and more into marketing to make their property stand out in an often saturated market.
High quality photos are just the beginning. Professional videography and drone footage are now rearing their heads into the scene as industry standards. It’s an exciting time for the property scene, where the bar continues to be set higher and higher. Drone footage can look spectacular! Here’s PRD Nationwide showing us how it’s done:
Even more exciting is the recent introduction of 3D walkthroughs, which let people transition into a virtual reality tour through a listing. This process consolidates 3D renderings of homes with video and photos, and access is as simple as downloading it onto your phone and slipping it into a VR headset. Whilst this is still a progressing technology, it’s exciting to think that this could be embraced wider in listings in the future. The agents at Ouwens Casserly are currently offering this service, highlighting convenience as its major selling point - “It’s the opportunity to sit down and put the headset on and walk through the property,” says director Alex Ouwens. “You can do it in your lunch break.”
A new way to Sell
If you have clients that need to sell fast, or you are currently at full capacity - don't let them slip away! You can use Sellable to give them the freedom to move on their own timeline. We offer a guaranteed price and payment upfront, eliminating the need for burdensome financing options like bridging finance, and helping clients settle simultaneously without stress.
We're partnered with agents across Australia who we engage as referrers (for $2000 commission per referral), or as representatives for their customers. If you're interested in learning more, fill out our partner agent application here, or send an email to [email protected] and let's explore how we can work together.
If not, we hope this guide has been useful and we wish you the best of luck. If you have any questions or would like further details on any part of the guide, don't hesitate to get in touch.
<3 The Sellable Team