I want to talk to you about two things. Especially if you are a listing agent.

There are a lot of things that you need to prepare even before the listing goes live on the MLS. So much goes on behind the scenes, and there are a lot of things we might miss. That’s why I am sharing the checklist of the things we do and prepare, as early as three weeks before Day 0, or the day the listing goes up on MLS.

The second thing I want to talk about is something that I think some agents forget, but in my opinion, it is as important as all the work you have to get done before the listing goes live. That is communication with the seller post-listing, or after Day 0.

We’ve forgotten the basics when it comes to listing because of the “pandemic frenzy” in the housing market. Now that the market is shifting back to a neutral market, I hope this serves as a helpful refresher for you.

Pre-listing Marketing

In a neutral market, premarketing is important. This wasn’t as important in the past couple of years because houses were flying off the shelves in the blink of an eye, but in a neutral market, the average number of days a home stays on the market is around two to three, sometimes four, months.

Generally, it is better to be more prepared than unprepared, and if you can, the more lead time you have to get all the premarketing preparations done, the better and smoother the selling and marketing process will proceed. 

When we take a listing, as much as possible, we tell the seller we want to start way ahead of the launch. That way, we can produce the quality materials needed to sell the house.

Typically, we prepare three weeks before the listing goes up on the MLS. This is a checklist of what our team prepares before Day 0:

Three Weeks Before Day 0:

Prepare all the assets you will need for marketing. These include photos and videos, as well as the Seller Story. Let’s break it down:

  • Professional snapshots

Have a professional take a photo of the house. You want to highlight the appeal that the home already has, and who knows the job better than the pros, right? If you can get drone footage, it will be an added plus to your marketing. Aerial photos, drone shots, and exterior and interior shots, all of these turn out better than using assets taken from your phone. It makes editing and packaging the photos much easier.

  • 3D Tours and Box Brownie

For 3D tours, we use Matterport, and there are other companies that do that.

Box Brownie is a company that edits some of the pictures. You can check out their services. There are also a lot of other companies that do a wonderful job; you can Google them. But we use Box brownie to edit the first photo, and typically it is things like removing objects, including some furniture (like tables, chairs, couches). In one case, we had them completely renovate one whole room—from a disco room, they redesigned and reconceptualized it to something that would look amazing.

  • The Seller Story

 The one thing we really push on is the Seller Story. We tell their story on social media, and we write a blog, sometimes a video, about “Why did the seller buy this home?” 

We want to get the story out there because that might be the reason somebody else is buying this home as well.

  • Just Listed Postcards and Neighbor Letters

We make it a point to make Just Listed postcards for almost all of our listings, especially now that we’ve got time. Because the market is shifting to neutral, we expect that homes aren’t going to sell in a week or two weeks. 

We also ask our sellers to make a letter to their neighbors. It is something simple: just a letter addressed to their neighbors saying that they are selling their home, the reason why they are selling, and asking them to let them know if they know anybody who might be looking to buy a home. 

The way it is so personal makes it more powerful than just having the usual, where agents act as the messenger and tell neighbors about a house going up for sale in their neighborhood. But if you are with another broker, ask them first if they will allow this.

We mail those, or door-knock hand-deliver them, and we let the sellers know we will be door-knocking around their neighborhood, in case they know someone who is looking to buy.

  • Home details and pre-inspection

As the listing agent, you want to get the home details early in case you come up with any marketing remarks to share with your client. That way, for any tweaks or changes you might want to make, you and the seller will have enough lead time to get around to it.

You would also want to do a pre-home inspection three weeks before the listing goes up on the MLS. Some home inspectors charge less for that. This is necessary if you want to know what problems still need fixing in the home you’re going to list for sale.

  • Floor plans

If you can't find anybody, Home Depot does an amazing job of floor plans. There are also tons of other companies that can do this for you.

Two Weeks Before Day 0:

Two weeks before the listing goes up on the MLS, we combine everything we’ve gotten: home details, the great pictures from Box Brownie, the aerial photos, the seller's story, etc., and start planning our marketing schedule.

  • Marketing Graphics

Everything we got ready for week three, we used to create amazing marketing graphics. These marketing graphics are going to be used on all social media, ads, and in our newsletter. 

  • Schedule

Make a checklist of all the marketing assets from week three, and make sure that everything is ready so that you know when they are going to be released once it goes live.

When it will be posted on social media, when will you send out the just listed postcard and neighbor letters, when will you do the newsletter, and when are the videos going to go out? 

  • Walk the Home

Walk through the home again on week two, and take note of any information that you might be missing. Because there will be something that you missed the first time you walked through the home and sat with the seller during your listing presentation.

  • Hire a Pest Inspection

Next is to hire a local termite inspector (most houses in California have termites). You can also hire a general insect, rodent, or pest inspection.

  • Make Invitations for Your Past Clients and Sphere

We also invite past clients to an event. We get a list of everybody and get ready to invite our past clients to the event on the day, or on the day before the listing goes live. 

  • Order the Signs

Order the signs two weeks before the listing goes up.

One Week Before Day 0:

The preparations will start to get a little more hectic five to seven days before the listing goes up on the MLS. Buckle up.

  • Ads

Start creating the Facebook ads, Instagram ads, YouTube and TikTok ads (if you’re doing them too), and all the lead ads once you have all the graphic and video assets and the seller's story so that they are ready to go. Remember that lead ads (i.e. FB ads) sometimes take 24 hours to get going. In some cases, it takes a little bit longer because sometimes the ad (or payment) doesn’t go through.

  • Call the Neighbors

Get the neighbors ready too. Make a call list. Call them the day before it goes live. The best thing about any brand-new listing is that it lets the neighbors know before they actually see the sign. Try to do it on day -1 (not on day 0) because it works extremely well. That is how you garner or pique maximum interest. We use REDX for this.

Also, don’t forget the 10-10-20 rule: within 12 months of a property being listed, the 10 houses to the right, 10 houses to the left, and the 20 houses (10 on each side) across the property will also list their home.

Remember to do these when you are able to legally (the day before, on the day, or a day after the listing goes live on MLS).

  • Get the Mailers and the Letters Ready

We also get the mailers ready ahead of time because they usually take 4-5 days to go out on our end. So on week one, we are already processing it 5-6 days out, so that they go and get mailed on time.

If you are going to mail letters to the neighbors, get them ready ahead of time as well. Those take about a day or two, get closer.

  • Send Out the Invitation to Your Database

Text your clients. We use Chime or Follow Up Boss. In Chime, it is really easy to find all of our people that are looking at the same price points. We use that in our reverse prospecting, and if the house about to go live falls within that price point, we add it to the text list. Then send out the text to everyone on that list a day before or on the day the listing goes live, with the link attached.

  • Get Your Graphics Coordinated

Make sure that all of your graphics are ready to go for the whole team so that everything looks like it is coming from one place and it is all in unison with the same story.

  • Tap on Your Seller’s Database

One thing we do sometimes (we don’t do this often) is if we know the seller has a great database, and if they want to participate in this, we ask them to send the email to their database. We provide them with the content to send out, typically one of the pieces that we’ve made: a flyer, a graphic, an explainer or video, etc. This way, we catch their database as well.

Post-listing Communications

You’ve got the listing live, now what? It’s all about communication. Communication matters as well as the cadence, meaning how often.

Remember, this isn’t like what we were used to in the past couple of years, where houses sold like hotcakes and your seller wouldn’t have the time to freak out about “Why is my house not selling?”

In a neutral market where it takes months for a house to sell, it is easy for sellers to feel anxious, especially when their listing agents don’t communicate with them. They start thinking, “Maybe my seller is slacking off; that’s why my house isn’t selling.” And you don’t want that.

How do we avoid that? We tell our sellers during the pre-listing pitch that after the house goes up on the MLS, we will call them every week, on these days, to talk about this. That way, they know when to expect a follow-up report and what information they can expect when they get a call.

This is how we do it:

  • Updates on the listing

On Mondays, I would call them and give an update on how many calls I got about the home and how many showings I did. I would also relay any interest or feedback from prospective buyers or their agents.

On top of that, I also tell them about the local market stats. Which homes went up for sale in their neighborhood? How are those homes doing? Which ones were sold and which are still for sale? What are the price points of those homes? This way, they know where their home stands in terms of the market trends.

After the call, I packaged that up and emailed it on Tuesday.

  • Updates on the marketing

On Thursdays, I, or my assistant, or someone from my team, will call the seller again. This time we give an update on what marketing strategies have been done so far for the listing and what we’re planning to do next.

We also update all the activities that have been done and any feedback on any stats from social media. Basically, a progress report on the marketing side.

Then I do the same thing on the Monday call and recap the things we talked about on the Thursday call in an email, and I send that email out on Friday.

This way, I’ve managed to communicate with them throughout the week. A lot of sellers are frustrated with their agents if they don’t communicate. Sometimes, some agents don’t know what to say to the sellers they are representing. This is a prime example of what you can say.

This kind of transparency and communication makes the seller feel that they are involved in the process of getting their home sold. If you keep them updated regularly, it also alleviates whatever anxieties they might be feeling about the selling process.

You haven’t seen it fully right now, especially if you’re new to the market. But this is going to be extremely important now that the market shift will make the average days on the market longer—as you’re into month two and a half or month three, and it is not selling, it becomes very powerful to communicate updates with your seller.

Make a checklist of the things you want to communicate with them.

There are a lot of tactics and strategies you can employ, but it is how you communicate with the seller that makes the difference.