Back in October, my husband and I embarked upon a journey that has left us broken and dejected. We put our house on the market as a “For Sale By Owner” listing with a local flat fee real estate company.
That was back when we were hopeful, naive first-time home sellers. As a professional marketer and HGTV addict, I thought that surely selling a house would be no problem.
My husband figured a house this nice would sell in a heartbeat. (He had purchased it back in 2005 on the very day the previous owners put a sign in the yard.) We were optimistic, enthusiastic even. We steam cleaned the carpets, decluttered the rooms, had the blinds cleaned and the windows washed. I even learned how to caulk a tub and kitchen counter top (and did so beautifully, I might add.) We “staged” the rooms, removing all of our personal knickknacks and photographs. We listed it for only $4,000 higher than what we paid for it. That is with about $25,000 worth of improvements to the house- new gutters, new roof, new windows, new patio, new landscaping, plus countless drops of blood, sweat and tears. We figured to lose about $20,000 in this market wouldn’t be that bad.
I make my living doing marketing communications, graphic design and copywriting. I understand marketing. When I looked at the collateral materials being distributed by local realtors, I was shocked at the poor grammar and unappealing design. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with anything that a realtor put together for us. So, I made my own flyers. I even created a blog for the house: http://245maurice.blogspot.com/
The house has been in showroom condition for 5 months now. We have had zero offers. We have only had 2 showings.
So, we decided that we needed some help. The first step is admitting you have a problem right? Last night we met with a local realtor and it wasn’t pretty.
Aside from criticizing our lack of curb appeal, this woman “enlightened” us to a couple of insider’s tips that we never knew when we first listed our house:
1) If your house is listed “for sale by owner” realtors will not show it to their clients, even if you are offering a buyer’s commission of 3 percent. Why? Because it sends this message: “If I am not good enough to list your home, why should I show it for you?” Apparently, we have offended the realtors of the area. I had no idea. And here I thought we were such nice people.
2) Young buyers are nothing like my husband and me. We assumed (wrongly) that young people in their early twenties would be using online media to find their first home. Not so, we were informed. Even with the Internet, most young people still choose to be represented by a buyer’s agent.
3) Based on the marketing materials I saw, buyers and realtors do not care about proper grammar, spelling or graphic design.
I feel defeated. I appreciate the realtor’s honesty. I really do. But, it is hard to hear.
So, I have learned that I am not worthy of selling my house. And in the process, I have learned that realtorsare like a fraternity or sorority. It is an exclusive club that we regular folks should not attempt to infiltrate, especially in a housing market like this. The realtor said that marketing a home is very different from the marketing of anything else and that I shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to sell our house. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that I have failed.
Never again will I attempt to sell a house, but I do think I will keep up the marketing in my day job. For now, we are interviewing realtors. I need to find one who is better at this than I am. And I need to find one fast. Or else it’s no Green Acres for us!And, anyway, I don’t agree that our curb appeal is that bad. I have good gardening skills!