How the dozens of specific tactics we deploy in our Strategic Marketing Plan work together to sell your home...

Here is the economic model deployed by most successful Realtors: Spend up to fifty cents of every commission dollar acquiring new business, but spend as little as possible on that business.

We approach things exactly the opposite way. We spend almost nothing to get new business, but we spend thousands of dollars per house to make sure our listings sell.

What follows is a detailing of the individual elements of our Strategic Marketing Plan. We don't deploy every tactic on every house we list, but these are the market-tested techniques we have perfected to get homes sold.

We have written a great deal about our listing praxis, so many of these items will link to weblog posts detailing our thinking.

This is a detailing of the things we do to list a home for sale. We don't do every one of these things on every home. For example, we know that if we list in a newer tract-home subdivision, much of the noise we try to make will fall on deaf ears. If we are listing a tenant-occupied investor-owned home, we won't do much beyond the normal MLS, lockbox and sign kind of listing. But this is what we do when we pull out all the stops for those homes that are likely to excite the most attention among buyers.

  1. We know from hard experience that if a home is priced wrong, nothing else we do will make a difference, so the very first thing we do for our listings is price them properly. We will work hard from the MLS system, looking at each comparable home physically to see how it really compares. If we have any doubts about the price we arrive at, we acquire a full appraisal at our expense. We want to make sure we get every dollar that we can actually get for the home. By pricing to the current real estate market, we can get the maximum price in the minimum time.

  2. Setting the stage for staging. Cathleen Collins will go though the house with a fine-tooth comb, often taking many photos. She will make lists of repairs, touch-ups and redecorating she wants to do, and she will plan her staging strategy.

  3. Pre-inspection. If we have any doubts about the major systems of the home, we will have a pre-inspection done at our expense. We buy a home warranty for our listings, covering the listing period and the buyer's first year in the home, so we want to make sure that any pre-existing conditions are fully addressed. Since a pre-inspection can take away a buyer's fears of an older home, we will leave the pre-inspection report out in the home, as well as posting it on the home's web site.

  4. Repairs, painting and cleaning. This can take anywhere from a few days to more than a week. Everything's a trade-off, and we can't always do everything we might wish for, but we want for our homes to be as clean, as homey, as livable and as turn-key as we can possibly make them.

  5. Staging. This is Cathleen Collins, and she is a master at it. We own about three houses worth of furniture, and she is always trawling Craigslist to find more -- period, modern, eclectic. She has tons of art and decorator items as well, and her modus vivendi is to take everything she thinks she might need to the house, then move back what she doesn't use.

  6. Professional photography. We have just switched to Obeo for our virtual tours. They send in a local professional photographer to do hi-resolution and panoramic photos. In addition to forming the basis of the virtual tour, the hi-rez photos are also used for Obeo's Style Designer -- virtual remodeling of selected spaces.

  7. Floorplan measurement. We put an interactive floorplan on the web site for every listing. Buyers can interactively place their furniture, plus there is a printable PDF version that they can pass along to movers or decorators. We use Floor Plans First, but this is a service that Obeo offers, as well.

  8. Amateur photography. That would be by us. We like to have dozens of photographs of everything, including photos of the interior and exterior of the home in all the different colors of light of the day. We can end up taking photos of the home over the course of days, just for the sake of a static kind of verisimilitude. We have strong backgrounds in photography. We use a camera appropriate for real estate work and we know how to take good real estate photos. As a matter of professional practice, we carry a good-enough real estate camera with us every time we leave the office. The language of real estate is photography, after all.

  9. Neighborhood photography. We like to have a fairly comprehensive selection of photos of other homes in the neighborhood. We know that buyers want to know for sure that they're moving into a neighborhood that fits the home we are selling. We show them many of the nearby homes so they can get a feel for the neighborhood.

  10. Videography. We don't do this for every listing. We only do it when we have a story to tell, because video without a story is anti-marketing -- worse than doing nothing. If the sellers or the neighbors have an interesting story to tell, that can work. Often, just using the neighborhood photos with a voiceover can make an interesting film.

  11. Building business-card-sized Open House invitations. Greg Swann does this, printing them with We print these in the thousands.

  12. Building custom yard signs and directionals. This is Greg Swann again. We print these locally, with a company called Signs By Tomorrow. Why do we put a paragraph of small text on our yard signs? To stop traffic. The purpose of the sign is to sell the house, so we do what we can to make sure people stop and take a look. We also add a "rider" to the sign showing the price of the home in six-inch high numerals. It's the first question anyone is going to have about the home, so why not answer it in no uncertain terms?

  13. We build a very elaborate, custom web site for the home. Generally, we will acquire the domain for the home before we even go on the listing appointment. Using engenu, software we wrote to create and edit our real estate web sites, we can set up the gross anatomy of the single-property web site, then we can go in and finesse it page-by-page. In addition to many, many folders full of photos, which engenu will render as slide shows, we supplement our web sites with all the additional information we can find or create. For example, if we can lay our hands on historic photos of the home or neighborhood, we will scan them -- in order to provide that background information. The same goes for historic documents or newspaper articles. We will research the builder, the architectural styles or the construction methods and document those. We try to have all these ancillary items done before the listing hits the MLS, but that's not always possible. But we live by the idea that, if it looks done, it is done, so we don't tell people about features that are still to come. That way, the web site always looks and feels finished, even if we don't yet have the link for the finished virtual tour, for instance. Our sites are built to permit the easy addition of new or changed content, so we keep working on the site before and after the MLS listing goes live.

  14. We build a custom map in Google Maps to help buyers discover local amenities -- schools, entertainment, shopping. We embed these interactive maps in the home's web site.

  15. We make custom coffee-table books for distinctive homes. We always have dozens of striking photos of the home, so a coffee table book is just one more way we have of getting those images in front of buyers. What's the purpose? By leaving the the coffee table book open on the coffee table, right by the sofa, we induce the buyers to sit down, relax and "try on" the home. Many of the the techniques we deploy are devised to break through buyer resistance, to get your buyers to truly see your home.

  16. In the world of modern computing, every document is potentially a PDF file. We put a PDF version of the coffee table book on your home's custom web site. We know buyers share the site with the family and friends. This way, they can also share the coffee table book, either from within the web site or as a separate email attachment.

  17. Listing the home in the MLS. By now we will have written a ton of text about this home. We use it all and then some in the MLS. We have a brand new MLS in Phoenix, so we're no longer constrained by the amount of text or photos we can use. We can have an unlimited number of "virtual tours," which are essentially links to off-site web sites. We use as many of these as we have content for. One of our working precepts is that the listing may be our only chance to make our case for the home to the buyer, so we try to leave nothing to chance. If we can feed the buyer's agent a good closing argument, we'll do that, too.

  18. Within the MLS system, we are prevented from sharing our contact information in a way that buyers might discover it. This is an absurd and archaic practice, but it is what it is. Because of this, we build "unbranded" versions of our web sites that we can share as virtual tour links in the MLS listing. That way, buyers will be able to see all the photos and supplemental documents on the web site.

  19. Compose the flyer. We build a full-color flyer using our best photos and our most rhapsodic text, printing it on heavy coated stock. We use flyer boxes that will hold the flyers but also have a pocket at the top for business cards. We put the Open House invitation cards in there, just in case someone doesn't want to take a full flyer. We normally put flyer boxes facing in both directions on the sign post, and we will store extra flyers and Open House cards inside the home.

  20. Set the post, hang the signs and flyer boxes, mount the lockbox. For now we use a normal six-foot 4x4" white post. Someday soon, we're going to switch to a custom-made sign structure, framing off the big sign and the riders and attaching everything will small bungee cords to keep things from flapping around in the wind. We're always looking for better sign-lighting solutions, too.

  21. Promote the listing with online listing bots. We're using PostLets for the broadcast distribution, but we do Craigslist our way, by hand, and we will go in and hand-finesse other online listings.

  22. Write a weblog entry promoting the listing and linking back to the single-property web site. This has all kinds of benefits, but here's one we haven't talked about: Linking to your home's single-property web site from a trusted weblog can break you out of the Google "sandbox." In other words, our high-authority web sites can cause your home's web site to be "spidered" -- searched -- but Google and other search engines much sooner than would otherwise be normal.

  23. Distribute the Open House invitation cards. We will do this with nearby employers and in two sorts of neighborhoods: Move-up areas for our listings, and neighborhoods where has a lot of fans. We know that people who like us will try to send us buyers, so we always want to let them know when we have a new house for sale.

  24. We make "docent cards" for our distinctive homes. In the web site, we will have drawn attention to many unique features of the home. We use small, elegant cards to draw attention to those same items within the home. This is just a small, subtle way of communicating that your home is beyond the ordinary.

  25. We hold Open Houses every week until the home is sold. Why? Because there are an awful lot of un- or under-represented buyers out there, and we want for them to be able to see our home. We avoid dual agency, but we have no problem showing the home to buyers who accidentally left their buyer's agents at home. If a listing is near the commuter traffic flow -- and most of ours are -- we like to hold after-work Open Houses, too, just to see if we can snag people sick of driving. We hold Open Houses to sell the house -- everything we're talking about here is about selling the house -- but we have met a lot of very interesting people at Open House. Sellers come to check us out, of course, and we meet a few buyers. But we also get to become acquainted with fascinating people who love our houses and know a ton about them. Countless times we have gained access to historic photos of our listings because someone wanted to see what had become of their old home.

  26. We service our listings. For vacant homes, we want to be in the house every other day, at the outside, ideally every day. For one thing, a home needs regular maintenance, and we can't see to it if we aren't seeing the home first hand. But very often we will end up taking new photos of the home, which we then incorporate into the web site.
We never stop thinking of new ways to promote your home. Our future success at selling homes is directly related to our present success at selling homes, but that's a secondary consideration. The primary goal is simply to sell the home. We are always thinking and talking abut new ways to draw attention to our homes, new ways to make them more appealing to buyers, new ways to get the best results we can attain for our sellers. We're not shy about talking about the things we do. We're always delighted when someone picks up on our ideas, but that's the rare case. But, regardless of what anyone else does, we are always going to be working at getting better at listing and selling homes.

What does it take to get this kind of value...?

There is no one else who does these kinds of things for their clients. If you're very lucky, you might meet a Realtor who offers staging, or another who takes a couple dozen photos. But there are no other Realtors who work from a rigorous marketing strategy, much less a list of specific tactics like this.

So how much extra will you have to pay for all this service?

Nothing extra. We may even charge less than other Realtors.

Here's what you need to do: Make contact to find out how we work -- and how we can work together. Fill out that contact form in the sidebar. Or pick up the phone and call us at 602-740-7531 (or 1-800-508-5430 long-distance).

A listing is a wonder to behold, a completely unprecedented experience. If you want to find out more about how we work, read on to to learn how our way of working saves you time and aggravation, to discover our staging and marketing techniques are so impressive or to see how our predictable results can take the pressure off you and your family. But if you're ready to talk to us, we're ready and eager to talk to you...