Many people think that Marketing means the same thing as Advertising. This isn't true. In business schools they teach that Marketing is the whole bundle of activities required to sell a product. Among those things are pricing, packaging, availability and advertising. In Real Estate the "big four" are the same, perhaps with different names; Pricing, Packaging (staging, photography) Availability (hours available for viewing) and finally the least important, Advertising. Lets look at each of these one at a time.
The most important part of getting a home sold is Pricing. The factors that need to be included in determining the best market price of your home are; Location, Description and Condition. When your Realtor (R) does what is called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) they do their best to account for all three of these variables among the similar properties that have sold in your area. Making up a good CMA can be a difficult thing, the agent must look at the data which is often subjective and come to a decision about how it might apply to your situation. When trying to determine a price for a home, the Realtor (R) has to look at homes that have sold that are as much like yours as possible in an area as small as possible. In some areas this could be a market as small as one subdivision or city block, in others it might be as large as several miles! A 3 bedroom home will have different value based on which area, school district etc in which it is located. It will also have different value if it is a ranch vs a two story vs a split level or story and a half. A rule of thumb is more beds, baths and square footage means more value, but if the home backs to a busy street or retail center it may have less value than one exactly like it only a block away that overlooks a park or common ground. Condition is probably the hardest to account for as well since the "comps" have been sold and the agent doesn't have access to visit the sold homes to evaluate things like cleanliness, roof foundation and mechanical wear. To get the BEST price, your home has to be in the BEST condition. Note: in any market, up or down, your price has to be flexible and waiting to make a price adjustment almost always costs you money. With virtually all buyers shopping for homes online, most of the people looking for a home like yours at a price similar to yours are aware of it within hours not days, and they decide to visit the home in days not weeks. So if you don't have activity on your house in the first week or two, you have to take a serious look at your price. Another note; starting high and coming down sounds like the right strategy but it isn't. If you start too high, you miss the first week or two which are your best chances of a sale. If you start lower than you hope to get, and your home is really worth more, you will have a bidding war for your house. It's always better to have multiple offers than to have only one or even none.
The next most important factor for selling a home is Packaging. In real estate packaging means "How does the home present itself?". The first thing that must be done is that the home has to be impeccably clean, even dust the ceiling in the basement and the top of the water heater. Clean sells, dirt costs money! If the home is vacant, hire a staging company, let them advise you on paint and carpet and provide the furniture. An average staging bill will be 1% to 2% of the sale price but will bring on average at least 5% back to you over a non-staged identical house. If you have nice furniture and are still living in the house, you should still consider hiring a staging consultant, there are good ones who will advise you for a small fee usually around $100. Some people believe that this should be among the Realtor's (R) talents, but your agent needs to be an excellent negotiator not a decorator. Paint and carpet are a must if the carpet is more than two years old or you've had pets or smokers in the house, the same rule applies for paint. Never repaint using a white color! White does not photograph well and as we'll see professional photography is mandatory if you want the best price for your home. Professional photography is critical now more than ever because buyers shop online. Buyers rarely find the home they want to buy at open houses etc. they almost always pick from houses they found on a website provided by their Realtor (R) or the open marketplace of real estate websites. Their perception of your home is obtained within 30 seconds or less of scrolling through the photos of your property. You need to make a really good impression in that short time, which is also why professional staging is important. Good pictures of a not so good room won't help. If your agent intends on taking their own pictures without hiring a professional, find another agent! Finally, try to be sure your home in real life looks as much as possible like the home in the pictures. When a showing is scheduled, clean up all the rooms, put laundry in hampers or baskets, clear dishes off tables and counters, a squirt of air freshener or a scented candle can make a difference too, turn on lights in all the rooms and leave the house.Remember you don't sell a house the same way you live in the house.
The third aspect of Marketing is Availability. For manufactured products like toys or clothes this might mean keeping inventory stocked in a store or warehouse. In real estate this means the ability for Buyers to visit your home. Try not to restrict your showing times. Two hours notice is considered polite in real estate, demanding 24 hrs notice limits the ability of Buyers to see your house. Most Buyers will see 5 or 6 houses per outing and choose one of the first 5 or 6 to buy. Buyers will often not be patient to wait a day to see your home and you could lose the "dream" buyer by not making the home available to them.
Finally, Advertising is the least important factor. Because of the internet availability of information Buyers don't read News Papers or Real Estate books to find homes any more. They search the internet! It's been a kind of secret in the Real Estate industry for many years now that when you see an agent "advertising houses" what they are really doing is advertising themselves! They aren't trying to sell those houses, they are trying to attract Buyers who will ultimately buy other houses (and that doesn't usually work either). Some agents still use their newspaper ads to try to tell you that will make a difference in whether your house is sold. The truth is that if you get the Price/Condition/Packaging ratio right, you will sell your house for the best possible price!