Your MAP to Selling the “Aged Home” That’s Been on the Market for Too Long
Have you ever had that home that you either couldn’t sell or kept coming back on the market like that proverbial bad penny? Who hasn’t, right?
Many years ago, I was working with a delightful sales team based in Carmel, Indiana. That’s “Carmel by the Corn”, not the Sea. It is a lovely city in the Midwest, for those that may be confused. It was a Wednesday afternoon and the three young salespeople had some open coaching time set aside with me.
I asked them how they wanted to use their time and they replied in unison:
“Please help us get rid of the Old Lemon that has been on the market for two years!”
They described the poor home, which unfashionably had many small rooms, had an unpopular brown on brown color scheme selected by the original buyers, and had been sold a few times before falling through every time, mainly due to buyer’s remorse. We chatted briefly and I shared three major principles which I like to call MAP. We even walked over to the home to practice together. That was on Wednesday and they were able to sell the home that Saturday and it closed 45 days later.
It may have just been the “Hawthorne Effect”, which talks about improving something that you focus on, but it was probably the combination of processes that this team put into effect immediately to create this positive seismic energy shift and sell this old home.
Let’s discuss what MAP is, as it pertains to selling our older homes, and then I will circle back and share how we applied this specifically to help my three successful friends in “Carmel by the Corn”.
MAP ANALYSIS FOR AVAILABLE HOMES
Here is what MAP means as it pertains to aged inventory:
P= Pricing and Promotion
Having said that, we don’t have to be reactive and only use this process for homes that haven’t sold, so after you use this to clear out your aged inventory, I would strongly suggest that you are proactive and use the same system to build and sell all of your homes as early on in their life cycle as possible.
Zillow, Trulia, MLS.Com Review
Like a few of you who have been selling homes for more than a few decades, we used to rely on this old book provided by MLS that came out monthly with all of the updated listings. This meant that other than old fashioned ads and signs, the general public had to rely upon Realtors® or go directly to new home sales centers and models to learn about our brand new homes. My, how times have changed!
Thanks to these new mega search engine sites such as Zillow and Trulia, most of the general public now find out about us digitally, shop us from afar, and then contact us if we have caught their attention. If you don’t believe me, here are the latest mind blowing stats that I could find about Zillow and its users:
- Annual visits in 2018 = 7.182 Billion
- Average monthly users in 2018 = 157.2 million (Up from 54.3 million in 2013)
- Number of homes viewed monthly from a mobile device = 420 Million
- Number of homes viewed per second = 186
Do we get the message? If you don’t pay huge attention to your homes and how they are appearing on Zillow and other sites, specifically on people’s phones, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Think about how many times you may have shopped for clothing online, put a “heart” on an item, and come back to it later. We have to ensure that our homes are standing out from the crowd, and that potential buyers are “hearting” our homes.
When I recently went back in the field and managed sales for three years, my eyes were opened to how these digital times have changed so dramatically. It is exciting that, for the first time, they allow us to have a conversation directly with our potential audience of buyers. I am so passionate about this topic that I have even written a 30-page e-book full of helpful tips proven to help move your available homes quickly and at the highest value.
Here are three quick and simple tips from the ebook to give you a taste of the information included in your download:
1. UPDATE YOUR INFO
Appoint someone on your team to manage your listings and update them at least once a month, if not twice. If a buyer reads your description and it says something like: “Brand new home starting this Spring, ready to personalize..” and it is now September, the buyer is probably done. They will believe that you don’t care enough to provide them with the latest information, so this will not be a good experience in person.
2. FRESH PHOTOS
“Buying is Emotion Backed by Logic”
The quickest way to create the highest amount of emotion is with your photos. With the stats we just read, your potential buyers may see one or two photos before they decide to either look further or find themselves getting bored and jump off your listing, so make sure that your first few pictures are emotionally appealing.
Find your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP), such as a view, unique millwork, or a fireplace and move those photos up to second and third place to capture your buyers’ attention and keep them interested. By all means, ditch the photos of perfectly vacuumed carpets in bedrooms three and four in lieu of your emotional USP photos.
3. EXCITING VERBIAGE
Exciting and up-to-date verbiage will stop a buyer in their tracks and create excitement. Please ditch the square footage and use real descriptive adjectives. Also, remember that location and community and lifestyle benefits are as important to buyers as the home details. See the real photograph above that would create emotion for most buyers.
New rule: “With a finished home, if you haven’t physically been in the home, then you shouldn’t write about it!”
Just like a waiter at a restaurant who is excited about the menu after tasting the chef’s latest offerings, our salespeople need to review all new available home plans and then walk all of our homes on a regular basis. If marketing is in charge of MLS and Zillow inputting, then they need to be equally accountable and do the same thing. That way we can eliminate boring “rinse and repeat” descriptions, take ownership, and describe our homes passionately.
Make a flier for every home that showcases the home’s specific luxury features. How can we expect buyers to invest their hard earned money if they aren’t even sure what they are getting? Understanding the Paradox of Choice, we need to make things simple for our buyers and show them the exciting features they will be receiving in their new home. For example, with a finished home, showcase any USP’s such as kitchens, stunning architectural details, and views.
Available Home of the Month
Take this flier and put it in a frame or an easel in your sales office and let buyers know that this is your “Home of the Month”. That way it will become a talking point, create excitement, and build anticipation to go look at this home. Back to my food obsession and metaphor, at a restaurant, how many times do we lazily enjoy the Chef’s specials? That’s what “Home of the Month” can do for you. Often it is simply the power of suggestion that will cause buyers to take a peek at the home and create a new sale.
There’s no need to include the floor plan on this flier; we want to have enough information that they will be excited to go and look at the home, but not so much that they will eliminate the home before they even go and see it. As Steve Jobs famously said:
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they actually want until you show it to them.”
Our goal is to lead them through the home and have them fall in love. Let’s not give away too much information up front to preclude this from happening.
Collaborate with managers and salespeople and walk every aged home together. Ask yourself whether this home is in merely good condition or if it is in “Mint” condition as it should be Also, look for opportunities to improve the appearance of the home that may not require a huge investment from your builder. Sometimes, items that have a “High Perceived Value” can be a game changer for prospective buyers who want to fall in love with their next dream home. This could be landscaping, sod, hanging baskets of flowers, possibly changing paint colors, and reviewing lighting and flooring.
We did this recently with a builder in a suburb of Nashville, with fives homes that were gathering dust. Relatively inexpensive changes to some paint and trim and the excellent salesperson was able to sell all five in a few weeks. Here are three model demonstration concepts out of about fifteen that we teach (on which you should work together during this “Appearance Review Session”):
- Map out exactly how you will demonstrate this home. Literally, take the floor plan and walk through it and number each step, and then plan the feature and benefits you will share at each station. Of course, benefits are even more powerful when you adapt them for the particular clients personality style and focus on their hot buttons.
- Go to the light, bright spaces first before the client begins to eliminate the home.
- Finding the best viewpoint in each and every room, which are typically corners and angels. Lead your client to this “Emotional Mark”in every room.
Sample of the Model Demo Numbering Plan
- Find location in model/available home.
- Number the floor plan.
- Match the number to this model demo sheet. Write in the location and then write the Feature the Benefit(s) and an appropriate Involvement question.
- Not every single feature and benefit has to have an involvement question; sometimes a group of features is more appropriate.
- Remember to number your “Close as you Go”© Locations as well.
- On the last number, you should ALWAYS Ask for the Sale.
Since “Perception is Reality”, following these steps and practicing how you demonstrate the home makes all of the difference in turning homes that have been perceived as lemons into lemonade, or if you’re like me, tasty limoncello!
If you would like a copy of our unique and effective numbering system, please email me at: Roland@newhomesalescoach.com and write MODEL DEMO FORM in the header.
Pricing and Promotion
Finally, let’s examine the power of a well-deployed pricing strategy. Many times, I will hear that the price of the available home I am seeing should be much higher and that the price has been held at this old lower amount.
Sorry, but I don’t believe you. It sounds like a sales pitch to me. Sadly, if I don’t see the higher price in writing then I won’t experience the higher price and therefore won’t actually believe you. So, as old fashioned as this may sound, take the extra step of showing what today’s price should be in writing and then share in writing whatever incentives you choose.
Of course, be careful about giving away everything upfront because many buyers sensing blood in the water will take the lower price and make an offer anyway. It is up to you and your team to create a strategy with which you are all comfortable, but, in many cases, we will publicize an incentive and still save a little bit for the buyer to negotiate and feel like they are winning their much needed “pound of flesh” from you. Candidly, that is up to you, your market, and your comfort level.
“Incentives don’t make buyers out of non-buyers; they just make real buyers buy more quickly.”
Three Rules of Incentives 101:
- In writing
- Have a reason
- Have an expiration date
Share the Story
Lastly, buyers don’t want to feel like a chump, and buy a home that they know has been on the market for a while, even though they may like it. They might worry what will their friends say when they discover that they bought this old home that no one else wanted. So, make sure that we own the story proactively before they start creating objections in their mind reactively. For example, share why the home is back on the market.
For example, you could share that someone designed it and sadly couldn’t get their financing, or weren’t able to sell their current home, or whatever else may have happened as long as it is not too sad or gruesome.
Buyers would never admit it, but deep down we often like to take advantage of someone else’s misfortune, especially if there is a financial advantage to us in terms of a special deal.
Back to My Wednesday Friends in Carmel…
We made an available home of the month Flier and placed it in the sales office.
Pricing and Promotion
We actually increased the price by just under $25,000, which is what they told me the home would be selling for if it was brand new. We said on the flier “Ask about the Home of the Month Incentive”.
We walked over to the home, pulled some weeds, moved some large furniture around, turned on the lights, and fluffed the pillows.
Most importantly, we took the floor plan and numbered it. We all realized that when you walked in the front door, you entered into an uncomfortably claustrophobic, dimly lit space. So we practiced quickly leading the way, and immediately taking three steps to the left; where all of a sudden the room opened up completely and felt light and spacious. Then we mapped out going to each room, where we would stand, what we would say, and what questions we would ask. We even had some fun role-playing.
We went step by step, even going outside to the rear corner of the home site and looking back at the home. This literally took over an hour and I remember about halfway through we all agreed that we were starting to really like this home. We finally appreciated the unique architecture and interesting nooks and crannies of the home, but we had to spend time getting off of the typical beaten path to enjoy this home’s individuality.
Fast forward a few days, and the sales team were able to share this excitement with new prospects who fell in love and bought this unique home, actually spending more than the original asking price and closing in thirty days.
So, go ahead and plan your process and sell out all of your hard-to-love homes with your newfound MAP for success.