Home Sellers Helped By Grass Roots Marketing

My friend, Fred, needs to sell his house – fast.

Fred just accepted an exciting job offer in another city. I’m thrilled for him, not only because it’s an exciting opportunity but also because he’s exiting the unemployment rolls. Now that he has a job, it’s time to sell his home so he can move on with his life.

What’s worse than trying to sell a home during the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression? Not much. But houses are selling in some places, albeit slowly. What you need to generate interest is a strong selling strategy combined with some grass roots marketing.

Fred asked me for some advice. As a home seller, he hasn’t had much luck in the past. The house had been listed for a long period several years ago after he had taken a job in Michigan. When that job didn’t work out, he and his family moved back into their house.

But managing the property (and its unsuccessful sale) while he was in Michigan wasn’t much fun. He didn’t like the agent who listed the property, and wasn’t pleased with the results (almost no showings and no offer – consistent with trying to sell in a lousy market).

This time, Fred is determined to sell before he and his family move out-of-state. I suggested he might have better luck with some grass roots marketing tactics that take advantage of several recent home sales on his block.

1. Talk to your new neighbors.

Fred lives in a wealthy suburban community that includes some of the top school districts in the state. While the community includes multi-million dollar mansions, his small single-family home is considered a starter home for the community.

Unlike many folks who are trying to sell, several houses on Fred’s block have turned over in the past few weeks. I asked him who moved in. He told me that both of the families who moved onto his block are immigrants, who are trading up into the new school districts. One family is originally from India and the other family is from Asia.

Clearly, Fred’s neighbor is experiencing some interest from immigrant families hoping to give their kids an excellent public school education. That’s good news, since it gives him access to a new group of prospective buyers who may be interested in his property.

While Fred and his wife hadn’t had any contact yet with their new neighbors, I told him to knock on their doors this weekend (a plate of brownies in hand) and let them know they were selling their home.

Tapping into the zeal of a new home buyer can be enormously useful. The buyers may have friends or family who also like the block and want to live near them. They may know other people in their old neighborhood who are also looking for a home. And, if they’re happy with their home purchase, they can help spread the word at work or their house of worship that the home is available for immediate purchase.

The other nice part about working directly with your new neighbors is the ability to do a fast deal without working with an agent. If you sell the house privately, you should hire a real estate attorney to draw up the documents and make sure you are following home seller laws and requirements, such as providing a written seller disclosure or other required disclosures.

2. Contact the buyer’s agents your new neighbors used.

If your new neighbors don’t know anyone who might want to purchase your home, you should ask them for the name and contact information for the buyer’s agent who represented them.

An agent who can tap into another community is helpful for a seller whose neighborhood is starting to attract different sorts of buyers. You want to reach out to communities where prospective buyers are looking in new neighborhoods – and can afford to purchase there.

It’s possible that the agent who represented Fred’s new neighbors will have other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Fred’s home, or the agent may be able to spread the word in his or her own realty firm.

Make sure that you tell that agent that you would be willing to pay a commission to that agent for bringing in a buyer. You may not need to offer a full commission and you may be able to give an incentive to that agent by offering to pay a little more than half of what that agent otherwise would get if the home was listed with another real estate agency.

3. Contact the listing agents for the properties your new neighbors purchased.

If you don’t get any traction with the new neighbors, or the buyer’s agents they used to purchase the properties, you might try contacting the real estate agents who listed the property.

These agents should be familiar with your neighborhood and may be able to tap into other pools of prospective buyers. Even if you don’t wind up using either of the listing agents, you should bring them in to do a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) of your property and interview them thoroughly.

If you wind up choosing someone else, you should still circle back to these agents, and let them know how much you appreciated their time and effort in putting together the CMA. Tell them that while you’ve selected another agent, you would be delighted if they’d keep your property in mind for any future buyers who may be interested in your neighborhood.

4. Use the resources available on the internet.

More buyers are using the Internet to search for homes. Even if you’re not yet ready to commit to using a real estate agent for the sale of your home, you can list the home for sale on sites like Craigslist.com and Zillow.com. Even if you ultimately decide to use a real estate agent to sell your home, you may want to keep your listings on these and other Internet sites. The more exposure your home has, the more likely it will sell.

In addition, you should consider listing the home even if you don’t hire a real estate agent to help you through the process.