Dear Mr & Mrs Seller, Here is what you need to do.

As I read the Sunday paper this morning my stomach started to knot up. Felt a little bit like nausea coming on. I have homes to sell in Michigan (for the clients we represent). If you are selling a home in Michigan, you know what I am talking about. I can no longer count the layoff announcements, restructuring plans and plant shut-downs. Record numbers of foreclosures and an increasing number of homes to sell without new jobs to replace the old. You don’t need a degree in economics to know that an increase in homes for sale with a decrease in the number of buyers equals falling prices. Where can I look for some help and a bit of good news for a change?

Perception is reality. I would love to spin this buyer’s market in to something good for sellers. But I don’t have the spin in me for that one.

The other day I was at a brunch with Birmingham/Bloomfield’s top producing Realtors. A REALTOR, whom I highly respect, said that he recently told a seller that there is actually very little difference in what most top producing agents can do for their clients. I didn’t say anything then, but I strongly disagree. I’ve watched other agents for a long time, and I think the difference can be huge. Among other things, technology is leveling the playing field and the dinosaur agents who have dominated the industry are either going to have to ‘get on line or get in the bread line.’

If you are a seller or a potential seller, listen up. Here are some things I think you can do to make your home the one that gets the seemingly elusive buyer. You think you’ve heard it all before, but I bet you haven’t. I know you haven’t. I don’t want you to be in the bread line, next to that agent who told you she was a top-producer. She meant 10 years ago, but she forgot to mention that.

New School Thinking

When you are interviewing agents, here are the things I would ask, in addition to the usual questions:

  • How many hits are there on your company web site each month? How does that compare to your competitors’ sites?
  • Where does your company’s site rank on Google for “Birmingham Michigan Real Estate” (insert your town’s name)?
  • Does your company use pay per click?
  • What else is your company doing to direct traffic to its site?
  • How many inquiries does your company’s site generate per month?
  • How does your company track inquiries?
  • Who would be following up on an inquiry about my home and how quickly would they do it?
  • How will my home be displayed on your web site?
  • How many pictures will there be? When will they be posted?
  • Will they be updated if the seasons change?
  • Will there be a virtual tour? When will it be up? Will it be on
  • Will my home be “enhanced” on
  • Do you, Ms. Agent, have a personal web site? How long have you had it? How does it do in attracting buyers compared to your peers’ web sites? What do you do to make sure that your web site is effective? When was the last time you added something to your personal website besides new listings?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Does your company have a national (international) web site where my home will be displayed?
  • Will my home be on, oodle, googlebase, craigslist?

If the agent you are interviewing can’t answer most of these questions, move on! Today’s buyer is looking on the internet for his next home, and your positioning here makes all the difference.

Old School Stuff Matters too:

I think any agent, new school or old school will give you the following tips.

  • Now is not the time to be fishing for that one buyer who might overpay for your home. A home priced slightly below the competition is the most likely to find a buyer quickly.
  • Bonuses to buyers’ agents get noticed. Agents have literally hundreds of homes to chose from for most buyers and a dangling the carrot of a bonus in front of them is cheaper than a price reduction or sitting on the market another month. It will get you showings.
  • Sellers’ concessions help too. Be open to creativity in the way the deal is structured. Can you offer land-contract, a rate buy-down or seller paid points on the mortgage?
  • Clean and clutter free really matters. Move-in-ready is the only acceptable standard these days. Staging helps. No buyer is looking to take care of the projects you never got around to, so get them done!
  • No matter how inconvenient, let the buyers in when the want to get in. If you don’t, chances are you will never see them again.

I know I have missed some things, but these tips should get you started. I don’t want you to share the same fate as the dinosaurs. I sincerely hope you are successful in finding the right buyer.

[tags]selling a home in michigan, birmingham mi, michigan realtor, choosing an agent, choosing a realtor[/tags]


  1. Gloria Dunlap says

    Dmitry & Maureen:

    Great advice for homeowners but Ive noticed that this was published in September 2006……does this still hold true or are there any other pieces of advice for an even tighter market? Also, I love the idea of a bonus for the buyers agent but what is appropriate?

    Enjoyed reading your blogs….keep up the great work!!

    Gloria Dunlap
    Highland, MI


  1. […] In the last few years, Dmitry and I have focused on on-line marketing. NAR says that something like 80% of buyers begin their home search on the web. In our Oakland County marketplace, I would say its 99%. That is just my guess, based on the conversations I have with buyers. It used to be common to mail a thick packet of listing tickets to a prospective buyer. But for years now, we’ve been sending one convenient little link, with color pictures, virtual tours, etc.  Buyers seem to prefer the link. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Your home needs to be promoted in the places that buyers are looking. Glossy magazines are pretty, but I can tell you I’ve never gotten many calls off of those ads. The weekly newspaper? Forget it. Who wants to search through completely unorganized little boxes with blurry black and white photos that leave your hands smudged? […]

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