Print advertising was necessary for selling houses in the past and all estate agents used to advertise their property listings in the newspapers. In our era the internet has reshaped property marketing, with online advertising the most effective. Most estate agents in South Africa are aware of this, but few appreciate just how powerful online marketing can be for selling houses, whether to local buyers or to those further away.
On the other hand, many private sellers expect the web to produce hundreds of buyers, regardless of whether they are selling houses, cars or assorted junk online!
The reality is that internet marketing of property is necessary and effective – provided the correct websites for selling houses online are selected.
Marketing methods for selling houses online today
Let’s consider the ways that houses can be marketed, the old and the new:
- On a For Sale board outside your home
Depending on your area, a number of buyer leads may be generated by a simple For Sale board erected outside your house. These boards attract buyers physically looking in your area. This method of advertising will continue to be effective but inevitably will reduce in importance. The reasons for this are:- fewer people than before will drive around a neighbourhood as a first step to finding a new house (since they can search online, petrol is more expensive and time is limited), and- many municipalities in South Africa now restrict how many pointer boards can be put up so it is more difficult to find the houses selling in an area.
- In the print media (newspapers or magazines)
Advertising in selected local newspapers is still common for estate agencies even though it is expensive. Except in some niche markets, print advertising is no longer as effective in selling houses as it was before the internet. Estate agencies often advertise simply for brand exposure rather than to sell their listed properties.
- Networking between estate agents
Estate agents in an office or even between offices will often compare notes on houses that they are selling. Each agent may have a “buyer list” of potential buyers and could find a match between their buyer and the house that another agent is selling. Referrals between agents are usually restricted to the estate agents’ own national group, but there are formal associations between independent agents known as multi-listing networks.
This is the most important channel. In developed countries 80-90% of potential buyers start searching for houses on the internet. The percentage in South Africa is probably slightly lower, but is relatively higher for younger people and the more internet-savvy. Whether selling privately or employing an estate agent, effective online marketing is crucial to ultimately selling your house.
With their vast audiences, the large websites focused on selling houses (known as property “portals”) are key to selling your house. They have huge numbers of registered buyers who are contacted when a property matching the buyers’ criteria is listed. Social media is also another avenue that takes skill to exploit.
Since it is now so easy to compare multiple properties online, it is essential that your property be presented attractively and priced competitively. Or your home will vanish in one click!
It is true that the more websites you list on, the greater the chances of selling your house. In reality, the overwhelming majority of websites that allow property listings are worthless because they don’t have large numbers of people visiting them. In the modern era, marketing should be focused on the recognised major property portals that are selling houses online in huge volumes.