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Rethink How You Use the MLS for Better Listings

April 02 2013

Guest contributor Celeste Starchild of ListHub says:

listhub rethink mlsGood online marketing can come with a big price tag.

But I wanted to share some ideas that you can incorporate for free that will help your online listings compete with others and get the attention from buyers that they deserve.

It all starts with re-thinking how we use the MLS. Since the information we enter in the MLS is the source of marketing content that is ultimately displayed to consumers (on websites like®, Zillow, and others), we need to enter listings into our MLS with the homebuyer in mind.

So, what does the buyer want to know? How can you maximize on every word and picture you enter in the MLS to increase your chances of getting calls on your properties?

Here are three easy suggestions: 1) Don't repeat the house features in your remarks 2) Focus on lifestyle and neighborhood, and 3) Don't skimp on quality photos!

Let's talk first about the importance of photos, as I cannot emphasize this enough! Consumers think it's a waste of time to call agents about properties posted online without pictures. If they do call, chances are the first thing they're going to ask you is to send them photos. So don't waste your time (and theirs); take lots of pictures. Invest in a great camera, or hire someone to take pro shots.

Second, use the remarks section to sell the consumer on the special features of the house. All too often the remarks section simply repeats all the same information the consumer can read right in the property details.

For example, instead of saying, "Wonderful 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home on half acre lot," which just repeats information the buyer already knows, try saying, "This early plantation farmhouse blends 'old with new' in its rich history and new renovations!" You don't have to be a poet – just add information that will appeal to the online consumer.

Try to avoid abbreviations that only a real estate insider will understand. When I bought a house in Alexandria recently, I was perplexed by the 'lingo' in the public remarks. Needless to say, if the buyer can't understand the information, it's not going to help you sell the home.

Third, homebuyers are interested in the quality of the neighborhood, so don't just sell the house, sell the community and the lifestyle of its residents! Consider adding photos of local attractions like nearby parks or shopping centers. Write remarks that include benefits of the nearby schools, public transportation, and other features such as, "Walking distance to Old Town Alexandria."

According to the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the top factors influencing neighborhood choice were quality of the neighborhood, convenience to jobs, and overall affordability of homes. Other factors included neighborhood design and convenience to shopping, quality of the school district, and convenience to entertainment or leisure activities. So be sure to include these important selling points in your description.

In the past, the MLS simply helped professionals share information. Today, you can gain a competitive edge JUST by thinking about the MLS system as a direct advertisement to the home buying community. Enter your listings with the buyer in mind, and you'll be able to make a connection with them, even online.