9 Ways to Revive a Stale Listing - In Order of Difficulty

9 Ways to Revive a Stale Listing - In Order of Difficulty

As a homeowner or an agent…a stale listing can be worrisome. As an agent, I know that every single one of my peers has been there, no matter what their level of experience and drive. 

Agents work hard to earn a listing, then invest time and money to assemble the marketing materials for the listing before publishing it to the MLS. When a listing seems solid but then weeks pass and it doesn't move - we get worried. This is where some agents might panic, take the easy road, and drop the price. That's a mistake. Many steps can and should be taken BEFORE dropping the price on the listing. Some are easy, and some require an added investment of time and funds.

In this blog post, I'll cover 9 ways to revive a stale listing WITHOUT dropping the price. My goal is to help you...whether you're a seller trying to understand what is happening with your listing or an agent looking for ideas. Let's get you back on track and raise interest in your listing in the most efficient way possible. I'll start with small tweaks that might take just minutes and move on to bigger efforts that may take more time and investment. After all, you've already invested time and money into this listing…it could be that a simple change is enough to get the ball rolling. Let's get started. 

1. Online Solution: Switch the Featured Image

Time investment: 10 minutes
Money investment: none

This is one of the easiest things you can do to keep drawing attention to the listing. Switch which image is featured in your MLS and other directory listings. It could be that the featured image you chose isn't the most attractive and so your (otherwise great) listing is being skipped over. A simple change like this can bring your listing back to life and renew interest for home buyers that have been browsing sites like Zillow or Trulia and have previously skipped over your listing.

In fact, you may want to switch your featured image every week and keep track of how each image performs. Pay attention to which one is performing the best so you can eventually settle on that image. Remember, your listings featured image is it's "first impression" so it's important to get it right.

2. Online Solution: Make sure you post on ALL outlets

Time investment: 1-3 hours
Money investment: $

While you may have had success with Trulia over Zillow in the past, make sure that your listing is posted EVERYWHERE. Having a large pool of interest ensures you're giving your listing a boost among its competitors. There are some good lists out there that cover less-well-known places to post your listing aside from the most well-known directory sites. Cover your bases here and ensure that you've published the listing everywhere you can.

It may take some time to ensure that your listing exists on some of the smaller listing services, but remember that even smaller services have thousands of views each month. The time investment required to add your listings to every single listing service you know is well worth it.

3. Online Solution: Add a Floor Plan to Your Stale Listing

Time investment: 1-3 hours
Money investment: $

According to Zillow, the floor plan is the 2nd most important feature on a listing and correlates highly with capturing potential leads.

Buyers search for real estate online, and when they search they want as much information online as you can give them. Further, they don’t want to pay for that information. By offering floor plans of your listings online, you are adding ammunition to your arsenal of information for buyers.

For some buyers, seeing a complete floor plan can help move the needle and get them in the door for a showing. Especially if buyers are from out of town or if you're working with a new construction, a floor plan is an essential element. Make sure you incorporate a floor plan whenever you can. Pay attention to your listing that is sitting on the market, does it have a detailed, accurate floorpan in place?  If not, acquire a floorpan and add it to the listing. 

Here are some inexpensive and  easy ways to get floorpans for your listing: 

a. Sweethome3D.com - Free 

Sweethome3D.com is a free and open-source program that you can download and save to your computer. You can then enter the dimensions of the home and can then view 2-D or 3-D versions of the home's floor plan.

b. Floorplanner.com - $29/month (1st floor plan free)

With Floorplanner.com you enter the dimensions and create a 2D, 3D, or interactive floor plans yourself using the online tools. You can white label your floorpans by adding your logo. You can also print these floorpans in high-resolution for print marketing pieces. 

4. Online Solution: Revive the Listing with a Video Walkthrough 

Time investment: 1-3 hours
Money investment: $

Especially during these times of social distancing, a video walk through is an essential part of your listing, but it's also a great tool to post on social media and elsewhere. A video walkthrough not only gives a perspective buyer a sense of the layout of the home, but it's also a chance for you to highlight the home's best features. A video allows you to point out elements that could easily be missed or to give background information that might make the home more appealing.

5. Online Solution: Web Marketing Power-Up

Time investment: 6-10 Hours
Money investment: $

Your buyers are looking for their next investment online, and for most the most part they'll rule out a listing based on what they see online. So it's imperative to get each element of your listing just right before publicizing it widely via blogging and social media channels. I'll touch on 5 areas that could benefit from revamping or from a greater publicizing  effort. 

a. SEO Writing 

A proper listing description should be written to paint a picture of the lifestyle provided with the home or highlight the benefits provided with the investment in question. It should incorporate emotive language and be tailored to SEO to help it rank well on search engines. Do your research on the key phrases that pertain to the home, including neighborhood or outstanding amenities then carefully re-draft and re-edit your description. You can also have a copywriter do it for you.

b. Sharing on Social Channels

If your home or investment property is the right fit, a social channel like Instagram or Facebook might be just the thing. Instagram is a great platform for sharing your gorgeous (professional) photos of your listing. These social channels can add support and increase traffic to your listing. 

c. Blogging 

If the property has been sitting for a while, it may be time to create a full blog post about the listing. A blog post allows you to take up more space and to add multimedia elements to your listing. It is a great place to fully highlight all the good points of your listing and to paint a picture of the lifestyle or benefits that come along with it. Your blog should feature large-size professional photos, a video walk-through, some history of the home or investment property as well as your contact information.

Along with creating a new and highly in-depth location for your listing a bespoke blog article also draws attention and credibility to your real estate website. This builds your reputation and authority over the long- term. So, while it takes time and effort, it's a win-win opportunity over the long term.

6. Home Solution: Keep Up the Exterior of the Home

Time investment: Variable
Money investment: $$$

As the listing agent, you'll want to make sure the seller is keeping up with the exterior home maintenance. This is especially true in the fall when the weather begins to change. If the seller has already relocated and is in a different city, you should do what you can ensure the exterior of the property looks flawless at all times. This may mean hiring maintenance yourself or convincing the homeowner to do so. After all, you never know when a potential buyer is going to make a drive-by to get a closer look at a listing. A run-down or messy exterior can be an immediate turn-off to a potential buyer.

7. Home Solution: Staging

Time investment: 3-10 Hours
Money investment: $$$

Staging can help depersonalize your listing and allow a potential buyer to see themselves living there. It's well known that staged homes more quickly and for a higher price point (about 6% more on average) than un-staged ones. So before moving on to solution #8 (photos) go ahead and work with your sellers to invest in staging the home. The right pieces of furniture in the right places might just bring to light positive elements or areas of potential in a home that buyers may miss.

8. Home Solution: Refresh Professional Photography

Time investment: 3-5 Hours
Money investment: $$$

I'll go ahead and assume that you've hired a professional photographer since every single listing needs professional photos. That being said, there are times when the original professional photos just aren’t doing their part. Perhaps potential buyers can't see themselves in the home, or perhaps the professional photos aren't bright and clean enough.

If you have a stale listing that just won't sell you may want to consider having some seasonal, new daytime, or new nighttime photos taken to refresh the listing materials. These new photos can allow hesitant buyers to see your listing in a new light. If you go this route, make sure you refer back to tip #1 and place one best of your new photos as the featured image across your listings. 

9. Home Solution: Renovations

Time investment: Variable
Money investment: $$$$

As a last resort, it's worthwhile to consider that some elements of the listing just might need to change. Renovations sound scary but sometimes relatively minor changes (think curb appeal) can lead to huge profits at the point of sale. While this is a difficult decision to make, in the right circumstances renovations can mean the difference between the listing getting the attention it deserves vs. languishing on the sidelines.

If your seller is hesitant to embark on renovations, there are services like Curbio that allow the seller to hold off on payment until after the home sells. Curbio partners closely with agents and you may find that it (or a service like it) is a good fit for your listing.

Summing Up

It's an agent's job to represent their clients and add value to their home or property investment transaction. This applies, even when the listing faces challenges. My hope is that this post gave you ways to revive a stale listing and got you thinking creatively. There are so many ways to leverage the real estate marketing tactics to show that troublesome listing in its best light.

Whether you're an agent, a homeowner, or an investment property owner, please don't hesitate to contact me with questions concerning multifamily property ownership and sales.