Selling homes on the information superhighway
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

Q:We are considering listing our unique home with a real estate company that has an impressive website and does international marketing. Does the World Wide Web really generate real estate sales?

A:As with other advertising tools, the World Wide Web does generate some real estate sales. Reports from brokerages find that it's especially effective in reaching relocating buyers and international buyers, and answering questions about services, schools and leisure activities in communities. This could be good if your home is "one of a kind," requiring a special type of buyer.

But presence on the web is just one part of any marketing campaign a brokerage would use. First, focus on finding a company (and a listing agent) that specialize in marketing property like yours. Ask for documentation on the number of these homes sold, personal references from sellers as well as marketing plans they've used to generate sales. The agent should be able to tell you why a certain strategy is used, what works -- and what doesn't -- as well as design a personalized marketing plan to generate buyers.

It's possible that the brokerage's strategy would include marketing on the Internet. If so, visit the site yourself. If you were a buyer, what would your response be to what you see?

The bottom line is that cybermarketing should not be a brokerage's sole strength. No amount of international exposure will compensate for personal attention and contact from the agent. Information sharing and communication between the seller and the salesperson are still foremost in putting sales together.