Top 5 Mistakes in Advertising Listings


Oops!If you’re on Facebook, no doubt you’ve seen (or even done) a “Top 5” list. Your Top 5 Favorite Movies, Top 5 Things You Want to Do Before You Die, Top 5 Places on Earth…you get the picture.

This has inspired me to create a Top 5 of my own — the Top 5 Mistakes Agents Make When Advertising Listings. I’ll do it David Letterman style, and count them down.

#5 – A bad concept/design

How do I put this gently? Advertising a listing is about the listing, not the agent. You want to keep the focus on the home (not on you). Make sure the listing photo and details are more prominent than your headshot and contact information.

Here’s another sensitive issue. A lot of people think they have a good eye for design or what should go in an ad or on a website, but you may want to consult a marketing professional or consider hiring a graphic designer. You want to be a great Realtor and focus on what you’re good at – selling homes. It shows your “boss” (the seller) that you’re the right person for the job because you have experts to consult with to get the job done.

If it’s not in your budget, be sure to use high quality images and stay away from large fonts or all caps. Plus, there’s nothing more unprofessional than a fuzzy or stretched logo. Finally, have a couple of colleagues review it and remind them you want honest feedback because this is your business (nothing personal).

#4 – Misspellings and typos

This is self-explanatory, but nevertheless, I’ll elaborate. I understand that spell check has made our lives a lot easier, but that doesn’t mean we need to throw proofreading totally out the window. If you know your spelling and grammar skills are lacking, then have another set of eyes look over your ads. The bottom line is that an ad with misspellings and typos is unprofessional, and basically a waste of money. You might as well run an ad that says “I don’t pay close attention to details, call me!”

#3 – Ignoring the internet

With 87% of homebuyers using the Internet to search for homes, this is very important. I’m not saying to abandon all other types of advertising, but your offline advertising should support your online presence. It’s no longer enough to simply run an ad with listings, your name and phone number. It’s imperative to drive customers to a website that features detailed information about you and your listings.

In addition, be sure your listings are featured on as many websites as possible (as long as they update your price changes and remove listings that sell or expire). For example, Metro Brokers agents’ listings are featured on nearly 30 websites. On a related note, since most websites pull information from MLS or FMLS, be sure all the information is correct and up-to-date in the listings services. Otherwise, you’ll have false advertising all over the Internet.

#2 – Bad listing photos

I had a hard time not placing this as number one. Anyone who knows me has heard me talk about the importance of good listing photos. Remember that statistic I mentioned in #3? With 87% of buyers searching for homes online, your listing photo is often your first impression (and sometimes your only chance to make an impression) on a buyer. They look at the price, location and photos when searching online. And the more photos, the better. Plus, the photos are a reflection on your quality of work as an agent.

Avoid taking pictures of the house when it’s gloomy outside, if the grass hasn’t been mowed, or when there are cars in front of it. Get the entire house in the shot, so that part of it isn’t cut off the edges. Be sure the photo isn’t crooked. And see if you can get the seller to plant a few colorful flowers to give the house some curb appeal. I could go on and on, but I’ll save that post for another day. Just remember that in the eyes of the homebuyer: Ugly Photo = Ugly House = Not Interested.

#1 – Improper placement

Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for…the worst mistake you can make in terms of marketing/advertising real estate – improper placement. You can waste a lot of money if this is not considered carefully. When you’re deciding how to advertise a listing, you must consider a few things. Who is your target audience? Does this newspaper/magazine/website have enough readers to justify spending the money to advertise? Do the demographics match that of my target audience?

Make sure your ad matches the overall look and feel of whatever medium you are utilizing. For example, your ad in Know Atlanta magazine shouldn’t look the same as your ad in The Real Estate Book that features 15 listings with descriptions. Different publications have different purposes. And remember your target audience, and the purpose of your ad.

What are some ways you market/advertise your listings? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

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11 Responses to “Top 5 Mistakes in Advertising Listings”

  1. Chris Jordan Says:


    Great posting! I especially agree with items #3 and #1. The online marketplace has exploded and having a strong online presence can be the difference between success and failure… and you’re right, any offline advertising should support your online efforts.

    Targeting your marketing is also extremely important. Using Google and Yahoo search campaigns are a great way to do this. Many people shy away from pay-per-click campaigns but they can be VERY effective and affordable if done correctly.

    Well, I enjoyed the article! Have a great day!

  2. tylerbrenner Says:

    Tisha, you are definitely crazy about photos! But I absolutely agree. Photos are the first thing any buyers look at, and can definitely be a deal breaker. It’s like they always say: First impressions are everything!

    • Terry Young Says:

      Where are the photo ‘police’ when you need them! I agree. When I have asked past clients and customers what drew them to the home – – the photos!!! Buyers LOVES photos. With that said, have someone look at the photos you have taken and going to post. Oh wait!!! take photos!!! Make sure you take the photo. “No Photo” is the last home a buyer will look at. They do not want any surprises either.

  3. Jamie Hook Says:

    I am photo obsessed as well and cannot stand it when agents only put 1-4 photos. I think this sends a signal that the rest of the property is a dump, outdated, or we don’t even want to see it. If you are dealing with foreclosures and I am working with investors; the investor wants to see how much work the home needs. Does it need a new kitchen or just appliances? Things like that can help save time and wasted energy especially if we need the home to go FHA. So, point is posts the 12 photos!

  4. Mark Broyles Says:

    I find it interesting that we put all our effort into advertising to Buyers, when 99% of the time it is another agent dragging them to the home. Make your marketing effort just as strong to the agents. Find out who the most active agents are around your listings and make a special effort to get them excited about selling your listing. Chances are that doesn’t mean an E-Flyer. More like a working relationship with the active agents, a special telephone call that promises them that if they will come preview your listing that you will go out and preview theirs. The best marketing to agents are smooth closings where you treat the agents with respect. They will go out of their way to deal with you the next time!

  5. Arthur Harris Says:

    Extremely well written piece, your ad tells prospective buyers/sellers who you really are professionally and why this particular house stands out from the rest. Mark’s comment is so true about other agents being important as well because without their help most of your buyers would not exist,so you have to treat them with respect and gratitude.

  6. Lorelei Fischer Says:

    So, I’m not the only spelling and grammar nut! Glad to hear it! Let me add a hearty “Amen!” to all of the above! Photos and descriptions should be stellar, relationships with other agents are a must and a well-supported presence on the internet, well, that’s non-optional! Great reminders–thanks.

  7. Charity Cason Says:

    I think a major mistake that many agents make is not approaching the ad thinking like the consumer (whether the consumer is another agent, buyer or seller). Does the ad make you want to pick up the phone and call right now? Does it hit on one or more of the “buying triggers” that consumers have?

    Just putting pictures and a nice description may not hit the call to action nerve. With so many ads everywhere all the time, an agent’s advertisement should rise above the rest and really stand out (without being misleading or false, of course).

  8. Ketti Chipman Says:

    If my agents don’t really have “nice” things to say about the house, with all of the foreclosures out there, I tell them to “sell” the community too!

  9. Jay Zenner Says:

    RE agents habitually promote themselves because that’s what they get in terms of marketing training and marketing the home is secondary or non-existent. That didn’t cripple anybody during the boom but we’re in a buyers market now and the buyers are scarce. This requires more sophisticated marketing from listing agents. With that in mind here are a couple of additional thoughts to complement Tisha’s points. First, if you try to make the goal of your advertising to sell the home you’re missing a subtle point. The real goal should be getting showings. Don’t provide too much information and risk giving someone a reason to cross your listing off their list. Second, the house is just part of the home buying experience. The neighborhood, proximity to employment centers, shopping, schools, etc., is often much more important than the number of bedrooms and baths. Emphasize the strongest asset you have in the copy you write.

  10. broker Says:

    OHH Great post! I’m loving your website;

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