Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Listing Strategy – Trapping vs Hunting

“What did I do today to sell my listings?”

That was a question which used to haunt me early in my career.  I knew I had marketed my listings everywhere buyers were likely to be looking for houses, and I had campaigned to the neighbors who might know somebody wanting to move into their neighborhood.  But at 4:00 in the afternoon, for a listing which hadn’t received an offer, this was a question that drove me crazy with anxiety.

Turns out I was a trapper without patience; I felt like I should be hunting in addition to trapping.  What am I talking about, you ask?  Let’s take a look at the differences between hunting and trapping.


Let’s assume we’re going to hunt for a rabbit.  (without a gun, mind you – we’re talking “catch & release” here!)

For comparison to real estate, hunting for a rabbit will be the same as hunting for a Buyer – finding the specific person who will buy my listing.

First we’ll need to identify where the rabbit might be – hedges, trails, meadows, burrows, etc.

Where will the buyer come from – a local church, a different city (which one?), a divorce attorney, one of the neighbors?  etc.

Next we’ll need to determine & build the tools for the job – our bare hands, a net, a lasso?

How will we “capture” that buyer – postcard, letter, email, advertisement, open house?

Finally the action – go out and find that rabbit (or buyer)!  Look in all the places he might be hiding.  Do this day after day if necessary.  And finding him is only half the job; I still have to capture him once I find him!

It’s nice because I’ll feel like I’m really “doing something”, but what I’m really doing is spending an awful lot of time and energy hoping that one day I am lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.


A different approach to hunting is to trap the rabbit – let’s entice him to come to us rather than chasing him all over god’s green earth.

In real estate, let’s entice the buyer to bring a generous offer to us!

First we’ll have to think about what would entice the rabbit to come out of his hiding place – maybe a nice, fresh carrot, cut into bite-sized slices?

What would a buyer like – how about a beautiful home, clean & well-maintained, in move-in ready condition, offered at a reasonable price?

Next we’ll need to determine where the rabbit is most likely to find our carrot.  Is there a path he travels frequently, or a stream he drinks from?  Can we position our carrot where the wind will carry its flavorful aroma to the rabbit’s burrow?

Where will buyers be looking for a home?  On the internet? (and at which internet site(s)?)  Driving through the neighborhood?  Calling their Realtor?  Talking to their friends in areas they’d like to live?

Now we set the trap.  The rabbit will smell the carrot as he leaves his burrow and heads down the trail towards the stream.  He’ll approach it with suspicion, but after waiting for a bit and seeing no sign of danger he’ll step in for a yummy treat, and… TRAPPED!  Touching the carrot activated an infrared signal which closed the door of a 6-foot diameter pen around him (including a floor buried underground so he can’t dig his way out!)

Setting our Buyer’s trap:  Our listing is clean, well-decorated, and clutter-free.  The front & back yards are manicured to perfection.  We’ve taken fantastic photos (and possibly video) of the home and the neighborhood.  We’ve written descriptive text which presents the home in its best light and captures potential buyers’ emotions.  We’ve highlighted the outstanding features of the home, neighborhood, schools, shopping, parks, freeways, etc etc.

We’ve researched the neighborhood’s pricing in extreme detail, searching for recent activity, trends, and what the competition is doing.  We’ve analyzed what other homes, in what other neighborhoods, potential buyers might be looking at.  We’ve priced our listing to be attractive (but fair).

We’ve placed this home EVERYWHERE a buyer might be searching online.  We’ve installed a conspicuous sign in the front yard so anyone driving through the neighborhood will see it, as well as for the neighbors to notice.  We’ve built a customized website for this home (and for the neighbors to see), which shows even more pictures and more information.

Finally the action – PATIENTLY waiting for the rabbit to find our carrot.  Occasionally we can check on the carrot-trap setup, we can check the prevailing winds, and we can monitor the water level in the stream.  But we’re going to wait for the rabbit to come eat our carrot.

Patiently waiting for a buyer is the hardest part.  We’ll continue to monitor the comps and the competition; we’ll get feedback from anybody who calls &/or shows the listing; we’ll answer our phones & return calls immediately; we’ll update pictures and make other adjustments as necessary.  And we’ll patiently wait for our buyer to find us.

Patience is the hardest part.

Once we’ve done everything else right, whether we’re trapping rabbits or buyers, we have to play the waiting game.  And that’s the hardest part!

(Ask any fisherman who’s identified the right spot, chosen the right bait, and then waited all afternoon for a nibble…)

Your doesn’t have enough patience left over for fishing after using it all up waiting for buyers Realtor,

Chris Butterworth