Selling Your Home


Marketing Your Home

The marketing process is about

Buying a Listing

“Buying a listing” is the practice of agents who purposely go in high with a price, in order to secure your business. While there is nothing illegal about this, be wary of the agent who uses this as a competitive tactic. It may result in your house being on the market longer, and ultimately, selling at a lower price than setting the right price to start with.

  • Setting the price
  • Preparing your home
  • Getting the word out
  • Showing your home

We'll cover each step below.

Setting the Price

If you’re selling by owner, do your research. Use the Internet (,, and many other sites). Look at comparable homes (bedrooms, bathrooms, hardwood floors, size of lot, building material, age, etc.). See what their listing prices are. Look at the pictures. How does your home compare?

Also, hire an appraiser. For a few hundred dollars, you’ll get an independent viewpoint of your home’s value. Factor that information in with what your own Internet research, neighborhood sales, or agents have told you. And set the price.

A note on the Psychology of Price
Factors in Setting Price
  • Overall condition
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Size of lot
  • Neighborhood
  • Square footage
  • Usability of basement (finished / partially finished / unfinished)
  • Parking (none, carport, garage, how many spaces)
  • Age of home
  • Material (brick, stucco, wood, etc.)
  • Number of homes for sale in the neighborhood
  • School district

Most buyers search for homes by looking on the Internet. They search by ranges. For example, $200,000 to $250,000. This is the reason you see prices set at $249,500 or $249,000.  

All The Senses

Your ability to get and keep your home in tip-top marketing shape is a matter of dollars and cents, common sense, and your five senses.

Here’s a checklist of things to help you successfully get your home ready to look, smell, and feel its best when buyers come through. Here's checklist to prepare your house to show to buyers:

Home preparation checklist
Stand across the street, and view your home as someone would, for the first time. Fix the small, noticeable impediments to a good first impression – bent gutters, broken screen door, missing shutter, and so on.
Get rid of clutter and kid toys in the front yard and driveway.
Brighten peeling paint on trim and front door.
Make sure the door bell works.
Make sure lawn and landscaping are tended.
Put out flowerpots or freshen flowerboxes.
Check light bulbs on the exterior as well as the interior.
Pay particular attention to any pet odors or smells from exotic cooking.
Store furnishings that are crowding rooms.
Organize, throw out, clear out, donate, box up – you need to create space.
Clean attics, basements, closets, under the sinks, kitchen drawers, bathroom medicine cabinets – buyers will be looking here.
Bring pleasant air into the home: open windows, try scented candles — but don’t overdo it. Baking cookies may create a good aroma.
Set out a bowl or two of candy or other bites. Agents and buyers both get weary; a jolt of sugar may keep them in your house a little longer.

Do whatever you can to make your environment welcoming and homey.
Put snacks out for agents and visitors.

Getting the Word Out – Your Marketing Methods

Whether you’re doing it on your own, with fee-for-service arrangements, or with an agent or real estate company, these are the tools for getting the word out.  Here are the key ways to market your home:

Tool Purpose Effectiveness
Online listing, preferably MLS Provides all the key details on your home necessary for agents and buyers both. Another must have - the single most important place to market! Make your photos and description as compelling as possible for maximum effectiveness.
For Sale Signs Signal potential buyers they’re in the right place. Provide contact information. A must have. Be sure the sign is clearly visible.


Brochure Box with Flyers Provide appealing and essential information at a glance. Well-executed flyers position your home in appealing light to attract more qualified buyers. Helps minimize wasted time on phone; reduces showings to unqualified buyers. Keep the box stocked.
Public Open Houses Organized showing to the public, typically 2 – 3 hours, Sunday afternoon; Put up a sign & balloons, clean the house, and smile! Typically most effective early (when house is new to the market). Brings people in – both qualified and unqualifiedIf showing your house on your own, have enough help to keep eyes open. Get sign-ins, contact numbers.  
Word of mouth, Neighborhood Announcements Telling co-workers, friends; Delivering postcards or flyers in the local area. Good option whether using agent or selling on your own. Easy to do.
Agent Previews Allows agent to view house before his client does; May save time; eliminate showing to people who won’t be interested. If an agent wants to do this, go for it. It's standard practice for some buyer’s agents. Agents are closely tuned to needs not only of one client, but many. If your house isn’t appropriate for one agent's buyer, it might be for another.
Agent Open House Allows large group of agents to see your home quickly. Same as above.
“Caravan” Regularly scheduled tour for agents of multiple new listings on the market. Effectiveness may vary, based on how many homes agents are seeing in a short span of time; Regardless, it is important to be included if at all possible; Be the house with food! Agents will linger, and spend more time actually looking.
Agent Financial Incentives Special bonus amounts for buyer’s agent, typically tied to successful contract in specified time period. Money works. Special bonuses tied to target contract dates will further motivate buyers’ agents to show your home. Discuss this with your agent – might want to wait 3 or 4 months.
Agent-to-Agent Advertising Email, print, and other notifications from your agent to other agents. Keeps your house in other agents’ current “view".
Print ads Newspaper or specialty real estate publications. Often “the norm” for realtors, to keep the agent’s name in view; Considered necessary, though brings in fewer showings than online listings or other methods.



When Buyers Come a Knockin'

Make sure that when your house is on the market, you or your realtor:

  • Keeps the brochure box stocked.
  • Keeps records on who comes to see your house.
  • Keeps flyers and copies of disclosure statement on your kitchen or dining table, for visitors to take as a reference (disclosures do not go in the brochure box).
  • Follows up in a day or two after each visit.
  • Asks if the prospect wants to see the house again, and if not, ask (gently) for feedback.

If you’re using an agent, they will likely take care of these things. Be sure to communicate regularly so you know how things are going. If something needs adjusting – inside the house, outside the house, or even the price – better to know sooner rather than later.

What If You Haven't Sold After Months on the Market?

Reassess Price and Marketing Approach

If you’ve been trying For Sale by Owner, is it time to get an agent who will market more aggressively? If you’ve been using “By Appointment” rather than a lockbox, is that limiting traffic and slowing the process down?

Or is your price too high?

Here are a few things to try if your house hasn't sold after awhile:

  • Get feedback – from your agent and their colleagues
  • If it’s price, you may need to lower it. Make sure you lower it enough so that you don’t have to do it again. Some recommend as much as 10% for a noticeable difference, but that depends on listing price. Ask your realtor.
  • Check once again to make sure that your home has great curb appeal. First impressions really do matter.
  • Try adding an incentive for the buying agents by creating a time-limited selling bonus.
  • Consider changing agents if your listing is about to expire and you think your agent isn’t giving you the time, responsiveness, or other marketing services you should have.
  • If you’re not in a hurry, take your home off the market for awhile. Don’t let it become known as the one that won’t sell, when there’s really nothing wrong with it.

For some advise on dealing with the disruption of showing your home, managing personal safety, and the security of your possessions, click to see some tips on getting through the it. Otherwise, read on.

Show/Hide Tips on Getting Through It

Dealing with Disruption

Here are some hints for how to deal with disruption of selling your home:

  • If you possibly can, enlist help for cleaning (interior and exterior).
  • Get away from time to time! The local ball field, coffee shop, or the movies. Remember “fun?”
  • Stay organized – know where you’ve locked away critical papers and bills.
  • If an agent shows up at a terrible time, or a prospective buyer’s children are chasing through the house, speak up. Politely ask to reschedule at a more workable time for all concerned as you guide them out the door. Be sure to get a card or phone number so you can follow up.

Advice on Wearing Down, and Mixed Emotions

The agent let the cat out again, accidentally. You’d much rather be home with your family on Sunday afternoons, and not preparing for an open house. Selling a home is a difficult process.

If your reason for selling is not a happy one – downsizing due to financial hardship, divorce, or other difficult situation, this process may be more challenging. Mixed emotions are natural. Find someone to talk to – a friend, family member, counselor or clergy. But be sure to put on a positive face for prospective buyers or you will prolong the process. And if there are children involved, you need to be the supportive, rational, optimistic voice for them. And perhaps helping them will help you, too.

So let off some steam. The stress is real. But remind your family and yourself – this won’t last forever. And the buying process is always fun! You have a fresh start, a new place, and new memories to look forward to.

Personal Safety

We’d like to think that all prospective buyers are legitimate, but you need to exercise caution and protect yourself throughout the process of selling your home. Here are some things to remember:

  • Agents either use lockboxes or show your home by appointment. Lockboxes allow any agent to enter a code into the box, take out a key to your house, and show a prospective buyer around. Lockbox usage gives agents more flexibility, and results in higher traffic. That means more offers and a sale in a shorter timeframe. Lockboxes are standard practice in most areas.
  • If you’re worried about strangers walking through your house, then “By Appointment” may mean fewer visitors, but more interested parties, and only those prospective buyers that you or your agent let in.
  • There are no guarantees of complete safety, even with a realtor.
  • If showing your home yourself, use the buddy system. Be sure to get a name and address of each visitor. Remember to keep records.

Security of Your Property and Possessions

Worried about damage to your porcelain collection, or theft of small items? If you’re concerned about property or possessions, put away what is potentially at risk. Putting things in closets won’t always help – many visitors will open doors and look at storage spaces. If you want more security, secure your belonging in offsite storage.

When you've gone through the steps of marketing your home, now it's time to manage offers and contracts. Read on to find out how.

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