Renee Leslie-Buckhoff

RE/MAX Elite Properties
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Old School is not always good

April 28th, 2018

This morning when I went out for a run, I passed by a home with a "For Sale" sign in the yard.  Attached to the large post was a box of beautiful, color printed flyers, and I had to scratch my head and wonder to myself, "WHY?"  Now, please hear me out.  There was a time in my real estate career that I too put a flyer box outside every single listing and filled it with beautiful brochures on a regular basis in hopes that some passer-by may grab a flyer and become the buyer, or in the very least pass that flyer along to someone else who may be interested in the home.  But the truth is, most of those flyers were picked up by the nosy neighbors who were wondering what the home looked like inside, and what the price might be.  I also on occasion found many of those flyers in the bushes folded into beautiful paper airplanes...

My point is that there was a time when this was a somewhat effective way of marketing a home.  But let's just say that time was probably pre-smartphones.   Sometimes agents who promote themselves as having 50+ years in the business may also be using a little outdated marketing methods as well.  (Just to be clear, I don't actually know anyone who has been in the business for 50 years.  I'm just exaggerating to make a point.)   In our current marketing climate, buyers are looking for their homes online first.  If they do happen to drive by a home that they have some interest in, it is highly unlikely that they are pulling the car over, jumping out and grabbing a dusty, faded brochure.  But rather, they are more likely to click on their favorite real estate app, checking out the interior photos and marking the home as a "favorite". 

It is entirely possible that it was the seller who insisted on the agent putting out flyers because they are unaware of more current marketing methods.  I too have had sellers ask me why I wasn't going to put out a flyer box in the front yard when discussing my approach to marketing.  That is my opportunity to explain to the seller that I focus on "Effective Marketing" rather than "Old School Marketing".  When a seller understands how buyers shop in today's world, they too see the lack of value in utilizing these old methods. 

I began my real estate career in the fall of 2006 and looked for anything and everything that would help me promote my sellers in a unique way.  At that time, there was a company that promoted the "Talking House".  I did not see any other Realtor using a "Talking House", so I bought in.  For $3500 (which was A LOT of money to a brand new Realtor with a very small marketing budget), I invested in 5 FM radio transmitters.  I recorded a 2-3 minute "talking tour" of the home I was selling, and placed the radio transmitter inside the house.  Outside on the lawn was a small sign which read something like "Tune in to FM 80.2 to hear this Talking House".  And believe it or not, people would actually stop and listen!  I sold houses that way for about 4 years - until the smart phone made this technology outdated.  With the onset of YouTube, it was better for me to post a video of the home rather than my voice on a scratchy radio station.   Believe me, I would look ridiculous today if I were still putting out my "Talking House" sign in front of my listings.

The QR code was another great marketing tool that came and went rather quickly.  For those who may not know what a QR code is, it is basically a barcode of sorts that when scanned by a smart phone, for example, can direct the user to another website.  I used this in my marketing to direct a prospective buyer to a website or a virtual tour of a property that I was selling.  The QR codes were printed on big laminated sheets and posted on the sign in front of the yard.  This replaced my old school flyer box.  I did not use this for long because the real estate apps became so much more powerful and useful.  When the app technology developed to the point where a buyer can pull up in front of a home, and immediately see the virtual tour of the house just because of the mapping function on the app, the use of QR codes on the sign seemed outdated to me.  But funny enough, I still see them posted around.  

The last outdated marketing tool I will tell you about is the good ol' "property tour".  This one pushes another hot button for me, so I could literally write an entire blog about it, but I will try to condense.  Property tour describes the activity many "old school" real estate offices still embrace which entails marching a caravan of agents through all of their new listings, usually after the long office meeting which is generally held on a Tuesday morning.  (I have NO idea why everyone chooses to do their office meetings on Tuesday, but it has been consistent everywhere I have worked until I opened my own office, where we do NOT do participate in either of these two outdated rituals.)  Once again, this was an effective tool at one time - probably pre-Internet to be honest.  Years ago, no one had immediate access to new listings that went on the market.  There was a huge "MLS Book" - or so I have been told.  That was pre my time in this business.  I can definitely see the value of touring the office agents through a new listing when there was no access to a new listing otherwise.  But folks, we have had the Internet now for a number of years!  I see zero value in marching a lineup of agents through a property so they can throw comments at the listing agent.  I know the offices who still utilize the office property tour will claim to a seller that they are getting the home in front of more agents - but it is really a lie.  I have witnessed weekly the same 7-10 agents gather and go on the weekly tour, each carrying a stack of cards from others in the office who were too "busy" to go (or found that it was a complete waste of time.)  The agents dump a stack of business cards on the kitchen counter in hopes that the sellers do not have cameras to see that in fact only 7 agents came through.  Yes, that is the truth!  I can honestly tell you this activity was definitely an inconvenience to my sellers, and  never once generated a single additional showing.  I was a good soldier in the last two offices I belonged to, and participated in this office caravan on a weekly basis until I realized it was definitely NOT the highest and best use of my time - nor did it bring any benefit to my sellers. 

Folks, I promise I am not trying to knock every single ancient way of marketing a property.  But I do believe agents and sellers should invest in and expect what actually works, and not what fills a "list" with really unproductive value.  We have all seen the "list" showing the value an agent can bring to a home.  If any of these items are on that list - "Outside Flyers", "QR Code", "Office Property Tour", or even the "Talking House", you may want to reconsider.

To see how I market a home, you can check out some of my listings on

Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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