Once your home is listed, the first people who pass through the doors of your open house will probably be your neighbors.
Sure, they’re curious about how much you’re asking for your home, and what amenities your house has. But they’re probably also thinking about which of their friends or relatives might like the house and would want to move to the neighborhood.
Our communities are made stronger when friends and relatives move in. It helps make a neighborhood seem smaller, and more connected – no small thing in this global world we live in.
Before you list your home, or shortly thereafter, you should enlist your neighbors’ help in finding a buyer for your property. They can be the best source of marketing for your property because they already like living in the neighborhood. (And neighborhood boosterism is catching.)
Even though you’ve hired an agent, plan on spending a good deal of time letting everyone you know that your home is for sale. Although the local multiple listing service will help you reach prospective buyers who have agents and are actively looking, the market for “just about ready for prime time” home buyers is far bigger.
Rather than buying a home and living in it for 20 or 30 years, as our parents and grandparents did, a third of all homeowners seem ready to move if the right opportunity came along.
If you want to save money, spread the word that you’re about to list your home for sale before you’ve signed a listing agreement and after you’ve cleaned and polished your home.
Contact your neighbors either by leaning over the fence, dropping a flyer in their mailbox, sending them an email, or leaving a voicemail message and let them know you’re selling your home and for how much. Your flier should mimic a listing sheet and contain a photo of the front of your home along with details about its size (including the number of rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms), amenities, and taxes. Add your name and phone number at the top. At the bottom of the flier, write “Please distribute to anyone who might be interested in living in this neighborhood.”
Next, spread the word at work that you’re selling. Do the same thing at your spouse or partner’s place of employment as well. Unless you feel uncomfortable with everyone at work knowing how much you think your home is worth, pass out fliers there as well. If your home is close to your office, the short commute may attract prospective buyers as well. Be sure to talk to family members about your impending sale. A distant cousin might know someone who wants to move into your neighborhood.
Another possibility is to talk about your sale at your children’s school. If the school has a bulletin board on which parents can post notices, you should consider posting a few of the details about your home, including the address and your phone number. (You don’t necessarily need to include the price, unless you’re comfortable doing so)
Parents who know other people who want their children enrolled in your school district can be a great way to find an interested buyer. (It’s another reason why you want to buy in a great school district – even if you don’t have children.)
Finally, if you live in a condo, co-op, or townhouse, you may have a central meeting place with a place you can post notices of furniture for sale, babysitters wanted, or even units for sale. Sometimes this board exists in the common areas, such as a garage, laundry room or party room. If you have such a place, it’s the perfect spot to post a “for sale” notice.
If you do all of this marketing before you’ve listed your home, you’re essentially doing a “for sale by owner,” but in a targeted way. If someone comes to see your home, it will probably be someone who knows a neighbor, friend, relative or someone at work. Or, it’s someone whose kids attend your kids’ school.
(You should do all of this marketing even if you list your home. Using your talents and skills to assist your agent in getting your home sold is a savvy sales strategy.)
If you do this marketing push before your home is listed, and someone comes to see your home, you might be able to “exclude” that individual on the listing agreement if you haven’t sealed the deal before signing your listing agreement.
When you add someone as an “exclusion” to a listing agreement, what you’re doing is saying that if this individual comes back and buys the home, you do not have to pay a commission to the agent. In some cases, you may have to pay some or all of the broker’s marketing expenses.
While agents will typically allow you to have a couple of exclusions, you won’t be able to exclude everyone who has ever seen your home. Think of it as a calculated bet – just in case someone who likes the home, and has previously seen it, comes back with a decent offer.
Remember, you must add your exclusions to the listing agreement before you sign it. Your agent will not permit you to alter your exclusions list once the listing is signed.
But if you take the time to let everyone know your home is available for sale, you’ll greatly increase your chances of selling quickly.