Basic Data vs MARKETING in MLS – There IS a Difference

People say it all the time when they're considering putting their home on the market and trying to decide whether or not to hire and agent, and if they're going to hire one, WHICH one will they hire.  Among the many things people generally understand about agents is that most of them will "put the home in the MLS".  While that may be essentially true, what often gets lost in the comparison is the differences in HOW a home might be represented in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  

Let me give you an example.  Some time ago I was hired to market a property that had been listed without success by two prior agents.  Despite a very "balanced marketplace", the home had been on the market for 9 months with no offers.  When I took the listing, my research told me there was absolutely NOTHING WRONG WITH THE PRICE!  I recommended that we not change the price at all.  However, I did dramatically change how the home appeared in the MLS.  Here are a few particulars of how the home had initially been represented:

  • Master Bedroom 1st Floor 11' by 10' No walk-in closet
  • Master Bath None
  • Bedroom #2 1st Floor 10' by 10'
  • Bedroom #3 2nd Floor 12' by 10'
  • Recreation Room 2nd Floor 16' by 12'

The home was a Cape Cod with bedrooms on both levels.  When I placed the home in our MLS, among some of the other changes I made, I included:

  • Master Bedroom 2nd Floor 16' by 12' Walk-in Closet
  • Master Bath YES
  • Bedroom #2 2nd Floor 12' by 10'
  • Bedroom #3 1st Floor 11' by 10'
  • Bedroom #4 1st Floor 10' by 10'

Having made no change in price, but changing how the home was "represented" in the MLS, in less than 10 days we had 4 offers, the LOWEST of which was full price. The seller accepted the lowest offer since it was cash and the buyer could close in 2 weeks time!  In other words, the issue that prevented the property from getting offers previously was NOT that the seller had overpriced the property, but rather that neither of the previous agents gave any thought to using the MLS to MARKET the home...they simply did data entry!

And we all know that buyers are visual!  That's what it's so important that properties be well-represented by the photos we offer.  The following are sad examples of some sellers homes are being represented in the MLS.  These are actual MLS photos that various agents thought were "acceptable" for the pre
sentation of their lisings.bad_house_photo1

Take a look at this first one.  I realize that sometimes it's hard to get a good angle for viewing a home, but to be taking it over the roof of a car....and then not even getting the full exterior view?  Whenever photos like this show up in the MLS, the first thought that comes to mind is does the seller know what their agent is doing?  Worse yet, does the AGENT know what the agent is doing!

bad_cluttered_kitchenThis is another one that caught my attention.  Did the seller even know photos were being taken for the MLS distribution?   How much extra effort would it have taken for the agent, even if the seller is not home, to take magnets off the refrigerator, all the pots, pans, bags of goodies, and pretty much everything else off the counter tops, refrigerator, stove, and oven?  In less than 5 minutes, the agent could have removed everything that is distracting attention from what is really important, taken their photos, and put everything back in place.  And what about the discoloration of the cabinet doors above the stove?  Chances are, 30 seconds with a bit of grease remover or cleanser could have given those doors an easy face lift as well!

This has to be the epitome of lazy!  This photo was taken from the inside of a car (notice the rear view mirror), and doesn't even really have the house in thebad_photo_from_car picture.  There are two garages and some open field!  Yes, it was winter, and no doubt cold, and while I'll admit to having taken a few exterior photos from my car...(NEVER for MLS photos...only for my own record keeping and reminders!)...they don't include the rear view mirror, nor do they include a time or date stamp on them!

One of my pet peeves is MLS photos with date stamps.  There's nothing quite like bringing everyone's attention to the fact that a listing has been on the market for a bad_powder_room_datedVERY long time!  Take a look at this.  Not only is the toilet seat up (particularly noticeable since it's a different color than the toilet itself), but the inside of the vanity is on display as well.  And, yes, this one DOES have a date stamp on the photo! 

Rooms being photographed should be, at a minimum, tidy, clean, and "de-cluttered".  No one expects the agent to clean a house before taking photos...but one WOULD expect an agent to encourage their seller to tidy up for photos.  Bad photos can often mean the difference between getting a live showing on a property or not.  And that difference can make a difference between getting an OFFER or not!

The point here is really quite simple:  it's not enough to have an agent who just "puts a home in the MLS".  Today, in many markets around the country, and certainly in the Chicago area market, a listing doesn't JUST appear in the MLS...that content is promulgated to thousands of individual agent websites and to a variety of "partner" sites as well...the most notable among them being Realtor.com!  Having your home WELL REPRESENTED on the MLS can have a huge benefit in the marketing of that home...or, when done poorly, can be a huge detriment!