Buyers use the internet to see 'what's out there." Some 70% of buyers live or work in the area where they will be buying. They drive around neighborhoods and read newspaper ads.
Your ad objectives
Your one objective is to get the reader to call. Start with a catchy, yet meaningful headline. Make sure your ad includes either the address or the general area, along with your phone number.
Create several ads. Ask yourself, “What would make me want to call about this house?” Strive to generate interest with as few words as possible. Don’t list lots of features or attempt to oversell.
FSBOs (for-sale-by-owner) may feel they don't have the experience in writing ads. Read the ads in your newspaper and by-owner magazines. Most are nothing to write home about (so to speak).
Your likely buyer
Recent sales are the key indicator for predicting future buyers. What is your drawing card; size, layout, home style, price, schools, neighborhood, location? Who has been buying the homes that have sold on your street? Why did they buy? Are they retirees, young professionals, first time buyers, empty nesters, singles?
Whether you are moving up, downsizing or have owned your house for a period of time, you will probably sell to younger people. They are your target.
Two story homes are cherished the most as they offer more space for the money. They appeal to those with or desiring a family–the largest group of homebuyers. Two story homes offer appeal to those seeking value while others are attracted to the look of elegance and prestige (Georgians, Tudors, colonials, etc). Smart advertising will include the real hot buttons–the emotional tugs of a buying decision: safety, security, community, neighborhood, quiet street, privacy, prestige, shade trees, etc. These attributes paint a warm picture and offer more emotional appeal than a new roof or a new hot water heater. Upper-end property ads emphasize prestige and status: gated community, golf course community, etc.
Single story homes appeal to all ages, but especially empty nesters and retirees. These buyers downsize into "quality" ranches in the 1800 to 2400 square foot range. Smaller ranches built in mass during the boom years after WWII, are great starter homes, but offer less appeal to mature buyers who seek either older custom built homes or newer, low maintenance dwellings, often of the villa or patio home variety.
When you originally bought your home, what was your property or neighborhood’s main appeal? What is it now? Local school system? “Walk to schools” constitutes a desirable feature for many buyers. Location, prestige, security and convenience (proximity to expressways, rec centers, shopping, parks, etc.) are important elements to suggest in an ad.
Stay away from the shortcomings of your home when providing information (like 1 bath). Stick with the pluses. Your objective is to get them to make an appointment. During the actual showing, the visual presentation and positive feelings often lead buyers to dismiss a home’s drawbacks.
Put the price and location toward the beginning of the ad. Although these are not considered hot buttons, these two items will get your best prospects to read further. Even if your price isn’t in their target range, the area could get them interested. The same can be said for a home with an appealing price in a location that the buyers hadn’t considered.
Many buyers want a four bedroom home but often settle for three. Those wanting three may look at the layout and realize what a great office, sewing room, hobby room, etc. the forth bedroom would make. By specifying 3 or 4 bedrooms in an ad, some buyers will quickly dismiss the potential of the home.
Get the most for your dollar
- Weekly community papers are expensive but have better rates than the daily papers. Don’t waste money advertising on a holiday weekend. Don't advertise in the same paper every day, despite the price break for a continuous running advertisement. Your ad will get stale, quickly.
- The internet is cheaper although most viewers are dreamers and curiosity seekers. However, those looking at newspaper ads definitely are serious in their house hunting pursuit.
- Include a picture in your ad, especially if you’re in a major market with a lot of competition. People’s eyes are drawn to a picture–making it more likely they'll read your ad.
- Create several ads that highlight different key features. Use dissimilar headlines to appeal to different emotions. Provide the address one week; next week use the name of the subdivision. One ad could be priced at $179,900 and the next week it’s in the $170s. Use pictures from an assortment of angles, distances or perspectives. A variety of ads means you won’t become stale plus, your ad should appeal to buyers with different needs.
- Realty companies are legally required to provide their name in their advertising. By-owners should use “FSBO”, “For Sale By Owner” or “By-Owner” in the ad. Buyers, discouraged with housing prices or the selection on the MLS will jump on these ads.
- Serious buyers check the classifieds every day so your ad won’t be missed if it runs once a week. Even buyers using a Realtor will look in the papers.
- Buyers only look in newspapers featuring a lot of real estate ads. Forget newspapers that are not successful with homes for sale.
- Some newspapers automatically put your ad on their internet site. Post a classified home ad on craigslist for free.
Creative ways to reach buyers
The following are ad options that are pretty poor, but perhaps you'll see one that'll really work for you.
Magazines and TV
Home magazines are kept for a longer period of time than a newspaper so that they tend to be viewed several times. Some magazines feature a home in both their magazine and on their own web sites.
TV is a horrible option. They're a day gone by. Actually, magazines are a long shot too.
Place a flier under the windshield wiper of automobiles at a commuter train station or park-and-ride that's close to your house. This reaches drivers primed for cutting down their commute.
If you have a “starter” home, post fliers in the lobby of local apartments. It’s inexpensive and reaches your target audience.Forget about sending fliers to local businesses, posting them in stores or on mall bulletin boards. It looks desperate, tacky and cheap.
Offbeat advertising methods are just gimmicks. Sales pros don't use them. Remember, people only buy after they have done comparison shopping for a home. And serious buyers save time and look in the classifieds, the internet, or drive around in search of for-sale signs.
If you were looking, aren’t these the places you would explore? Stick with the proven methods. Then do them better than anyone else.
NOTE: Stay in compliance with Federal laws related to the advertising of property for sale (or rent). Ads for housing prohibit discriminatory preference based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability/handicap.
A detailed explanation for the above and for additional laws for your state can be found here, on craigslist.
More GOOD ADS info