Online or newspaper? – advertising your home for sale

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Sellers ask us all of the time about the best methods of advertising their homes for sale. In the past, the answer was fairly simple. You used to be able to put a sign out front, list it in the local MLS, and place classified ads in your Sunday newspaper. Today’s home buyers spend the vast majority of time searching for properties online, and the performance and economics of traditional print advertising has changed dramatically.

Newspaper classified ads, in particular, are seeing a huge decline as buyers spend more and more time online searching for homes. To see how dramatic the trend away from print is, take a look at this analysis from Trulia and the Newspaper Association of America, showing real estate classifieds down 36% from the previous year. Zillow is trying to help newspapers through this shift with the Zillow Advertising Network that they just announced.

So what advertising actually gets a home sold in today’s market? Here is our short list:

  1. List in the MLS – The local MLS still drives the majority of interest when selling a property. It ensures the broadest exposure to local real estate agents and is also the source of data for many of the most popular real estate search sites.
  2. Yard Sign – Unless you are in a very rural area, never underestimate the power of the yard sign. It is the one form of advertising that will never suffer from online competition. There is no better way to let neighbors or people who enjoy your neighborhood know that the home is for sale.
  3. Flyer Box – Keep that flyer box full! Yes this is a low-tech method of advertising, but you have a potential buyer standing right in front of the property. Don’t miss the opportunity to put a nice flyer in their hands.
  4. Online Real Estate Sites – There are many online real estate sites that are great alternatives to the local MLS and are very easy to use. We currently post our listings on 13 different sites. Be sure to include important ones like Zillow, Trulia and craigslist.
  5. Direct-to-Agent Ads – In many markets, there are advertising services that target real estate agents directly. You can send email flyers to local agents or even have printed flyers delivered to their office. If you have a newly listed property, a big price change, or a special incentive, this can be a way to rise above the other listings.
  6. Your Personal Network – This should probably be near the top of the list. Sometimes the easiest way to sell a home is to let your friends, family and co-workers know that you are selling.