Avoid these 6 outdated real estate marketing trends

The real estate industry has radically evolved over the past decade, probably changing more in the past 10 years than it had in the preceding 50. Smart real estate agents need to keep up with new trends and strategies, or they risk falling behind the market.

Let’s look at some of the most outdated real estate marketing strategies you might still be using — and talk about why you should leave them behind.

Cold calling

Americans today are extremely reluctant to accept a call from an unknown number. A Google survey in 2019 found that half of respondents received one spam call a day, and a third received two or more. This is affecting everyone from political pollsters who can’t get anyone to pick up and tell them who they’re voting for, to real estate agents who find that cold calling no longer generates any usable leads.

The upshot is that the phone is more or less a dead end now. Smart agents go where the customers are — online or text message inboxes. Using emails, text campaigns, or social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, Instagram or TikTok can be a great way to reach potential customers, and they’re a much more efficient use of your time.

Always being in selling mode

But just getting online isn’t enough — you have to know how to connect with your audience. When contact with leads was more elusive, it might have made sense to “always be closing.” But with the ubiquity of today’s social media, an agent who’s always selling can come off as pushy and insincere.

Agents who want to bring in the commissions are well advised to take a more organic approach. Instead of always giving your audience the hard sell, offer them useful, original content that teaches them something, solves a problem, or simply makes them feel good. Once you’ve cultivated an audience by offering them real value, your targeted selling will be much more effective.

Only targeting your real estate marketing in the spring and summer seasons

Traditionally, spring and summer were the busy seasons, and many agents concentrated their real estate marketing efforts on that April-to-September period.

But as the internet has made listings more accessible to the general public, many buyers have opted to buy in less competitive periods. In fact, some of the traditionally slow periods — between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, or the post-holiday dead zone of January and February — are now targeted by savvy buyers as the best time to get a deal with little competition from other buyers. Valuable incentives such as home buyer rebates have also pushed buyers to shop around throughout the year.

Additionally, the old spring-to-summer rush was often related to families rushing to get into new homes while their children were out of school. But today’s buyers are increasingly child-free, and are open to buying any time of the year. The bottom line is that today’s agents should look at the entire year as a potential rush — not just the warm months.

Advising clients to set a high list price

For a long time, the conventional wisdom was to set the list price high so there was plenty of room to negotiate downwards. But that strategy only worked when the market was opaque. Today, buyers can go online and find a home’s estimated value, see its complete sale history, and calculate their closing costs, all with a few clicks. Overpriced homes will be the first they cross off their lists.

Overpricing a home today will often result in the home sitting on the market for weeks or months. And once it becomes a stale listing, even fresh buyers will assume there’s something wrong with it, so cutting the price won’t entice many people. In the end, you may even have to take down the listing and start fresh down the line.

Don’t assume buyers will buy a home as is

In the red hot market of the past few years, even homes that needed moderate repairs were quickly snatched up. But as the market has gotten tighter, buyers are looking for a home that’s move-in ready. Small updates and repairs such as outdated paint, flooring, or light fixtures that might not have been a problem five years ago are now potential deal breakers — not to mention costly repairs like a leaky roof.

In today’s market, it’s wiser to advise your sellers to perform repairs before you list the home in order to make the buyer’s decision as easy and frictionless as possible.

Doing the wrong repairs

As the market has evolved, buyer preferences have shifted. That means that a lot of the conventional wisdom about what they want in a home has changed.

One example of this is the old rule that “interior improvements always outweigh exterior ones.” In the past, it was true that indoor improvements such as new floors or light fixtures had more appeal to buyers than outside improvements such as landscaping or new paint.

But that calculus has shifted. Today, the focus should be on “curb appeal” — capturing the buyer’s interest with the very first impression the house makes. That means your buyer should prioritize exterior, eye-catching features, such as landscaping, fresh paint, windows, and the front door.

Another example of this is the old adage that “kitchens sell homes.” Although it’s true that buyers still love a beautiful kitchen, a study of the data has shown that kitchen renovations typically don’t return much value — ie though they do increase a home’s value, the cost usually makes it a money-losing proposition. Today, it makes more sense to advise sellers to do minor kitchen improvements, but leave the gut renovations to the buyer.

Luke Babich is the CEO and co-founder of Clever Real Estate.