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How to Pre-Market a Home

Remember the old joke about how to spread the latest news? By telephone, by telegraph, or by telling the neighborhood gossip.

Though the technology has changed, the idea of spreading the news that your home is for sale through both technological means and by plain old talking is still excellent advice. Even before you list your home or plant a For Sale sign in your front yard, tell everyone you know that your house is for sale.

Tell friends, neighbors, work colleagues, relatives, acquaintances at your church or health club, and your carpool pals. E-mail everyone. And be especially sure to tell the key people who get out and about and like to chat. They may end up selling your home for you even before your first open house!

The Neighbor Factor

Neighbors are often extremely helpful when it comes to pre-marketing your home. They may have friends or relatives who've always wanted to live in your neighborhood if only they could find the right house. Consider holding an informal open house for your neighbors. Make up an attractive, informative, one-page flier with a photo of your house and the date and time of a casual open house, and put one under every doormat for three or four square blocks. Though you probably don't have to do a basement-to-attic, spit-and-polish clean-up for this informal open house, the house should be reasonably neat, clean, and inviting. (No dogs tied to the front porch or kitty litter boxes in the kitchen.)

And you can't be coy about the sales price. You must by now have a clear idea of what you're going to ask for your home based on your research of the market. Be sure to include the sales price on the flier. Along with location, the sales price is a would-be buyer's single biggest question about your home. Save everyone time by being upfront about it. You're proud of the place. No need to beat around the bush about the price.

Some Other Avenues

You could put up your own For Sale sign, even if it's not the one an agent will ultimately put up for you. Lots of  house hunters literally spend their weekends driving through neighborhoods they like looking for For Sale signs. Be sure to always include a phone number on the For Sale sign.

Have a talent for working with computers? Especially if you are trying to sell your home yourself, consider making a Web site about your home. (If you are working with a licensed real estate agent they will likely create a site for your home to add to their site.) There are many easily downloadable software programs that let you create your own simple Web site. You can include photos inside and out, along with the usual specific information about size of the rooms, age of the home, and amenities such as nearby parks or schools. If you create a Web site you should include its URL on the For Sale sign in your front yard.

And when you put ads in the local newspaper classifieds or list the home on sites such as, Craigslist, or Google Base, you should also include the url to your home's Web page. In today's Web-savvy world, many homes are bought and sold off of classified ad-style Web sites. It can't hurt to try them, and real estate agents themselves are increasingly using them to market their clients' homes.

If you work at a company that employs more than a few dozen people there's likely to be an in-house, online bulletin board or employee publication. List your house there. At big companies employee classifieds are excellent tools for buying and selling everything from kids' bicycles to homes.

A new way to test the waters is to put your house on Zillow with a Make Me Move price. The MMM price could be the real price you think your home will sell for, or it could be a price you dream it would sell for! You can see what happens - without any commitment because the contact between the seller and potential buyers is anonymous. If you don't hear from serious buyers, you can go ahead and post your home as for sale.

Pre-Marketing Checklist

1. If you are working with a real estate agent, be sure she knows you are doing a little pre-marketing yourself. Go over your program with her. She will likely be thrilled you're taking the initiative since it will save her time and make her job easier.

2. If the idea is that you are testing the waters before hiring an agent, be ready to accommodate offers - it just might happen! And you might have some idea of what agent you'd like to use - in case you want help with the negotiating or closing. In other words, be prepared for success!

3. Blab about your home. Tell everyone, even people who appear to have no interest in real estate. They may know someone who does.

4. Consider holding a neighborhood open house and have a flier ready to hand to anyone who comes. Remember, the flier will likely be passed off to your neighbor's friends or relatives who are house hunting, so be sure to include specifics about your home such as age, size of rooms, square footage, yard size, and other amenities. You should also add brief information about the neighborhood schools, such as their names and where they're located; nearby parks; nearby bicycle or jogging trails; and other amenities such as beaches or public swimming pools. If you've had the home inspected recently, and assuming the inspector found your home in good repair, mention that too. Some homeowners create an entire scrapbook of this type of information. 

By Diane Tuman

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  • Last edited October 12 2012
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