The Leopard's New Spots - The Real Reason Behind Expensive Internet Ads
When a seller signs with an agent, they are exclusively signed to that agent’s firm for the duration of the agreed listing period. This arrangement provides the real estate agent with a degree of control, particularly if they have a motivated vendor. A buyer, however, is free to wander in and out of as many Essendon real estate agent offices as they like. Therefore during negotiations, real estate agents have a lot less influence on buyers than on sellers.
Two Kinds of Motivated Vendors
There are two types of motivated vendors. The first is the ‘pragmatically’ motivated vendor. They may have bought elsewhere or be in control of a deceased estate for example. Pragmatically motivated vendors accept the best market price and sell. They are motivated enough to sell so that the agent does not have a particularly difficult time ‘controlling the vendor’. This allows the agent to focus more on attaining each buyer’s best price, confident that the vendor will accept the highest offer.
The second type of vendor is an ‘artificially’ motivated one. They ‘were’ only motivated to sell if the price was right. Strangely enough, they can find themselves committed to thousands of dollars towards internet ads; internet ads which cost several thousand dollars! When did that happen? How did that happen? And most importantly, why is that happening?
Out With the Old, In With the New
Real estate agents may have been weaned off newspaper ads (very, very reluctantly), but they are now embracing a new form of advertising like there's no tomorrow: expensive internet advertising promising ‘More buyers with bigger photos', sellers are assured... ‘Make your property standout amongst the crowd. You can't sell a secret’... The cheap lines that agents used to sell needless newspaper ads are now being used to sell unnecessarily expensive internet campaigns.
‘Vendors… If you are not on page 1 of the buyers search you have erected a signboard in the forest’, screams the real estate trainer hired to increase the amount of ‘Vendor Paid Advertising’ (VPA) sold by agents. Negotiators call it the ‘sunk cost syndrome’. If you can get someone to invest upfront – emotionally or financially – in an outcome, they are substantially more motivated to want a return on their investment.
The 'Sunk Cost' Syndrome
The sunk cost syndrome allows agents to sell unmotivated vendors a poison pill in the form of increased exposure. Once the vendor swallows that pill, they have unwittingly increased their motivation to sell, tenfold. Agents therefore now love expensive internet ads for exactly the same reason they loved expensive newspaper ads. The real estate industry still proudly spruiks the idea that campaigns which utilise print marketing have higher clearance rates than those that don’t. That’s a really weird conclusion to draw when you consider that home buyers rarely look at print ads now!
What is not said by the industry is the fact that vendors cajoled into spending money on a print campaign have needlessly spent good money on bad advertising. While their agent has caused them to become more motivated to sell, they have also caused them to pay for advertising in a medium where buyers don’t look anymore! To ascertain whether expensive internet ads work, let’s look at them from the perspective of a buyer.
A Buyer's Perspective
As a buyer, would you accept or reject homes based on the size of the home’s respective ads or photographs? Do you like homes that are on page 1, more than homes listed on page 3? A few probing questions uncover some surprising answers! Agents now buy subscription packages from advertisers, which force them to run expensive web campaigns. The rules are simple. Either the consumer or the agent pays upfront for these ads, but pay upfront they must, regardless of the outcome of the sales campaign. It is easy to see then, where an agent’s passion for selling vendors this type of expensive internet advertising is derived from.
New Spots, Same Leopard
Stockbrokers love big real estate websites – they are ‘high margin businesses’. That is, they have low costs and high incomes. Their cost base has barely risen as their volume of business and income has exploded in recent years. Renowned US real estate portal ‘Zillow’ is attempting to replicate elements of the Australian model of VPA, amongst other strategies. Many of the major shareholders in Zillow are Australian. They appreciate the profitability of a dominant real estate portal where real estate agents act as unofficial advertising salespeople for the portal. In Australia, the real estate industry’s greatest fear is ‘digital disruption’.
Industry forums are full of agents who fear their ‘Uber’ moment is imminent. And it may well be if they continue to unnecessarily charge home sellers thousands of dollars for expensive internet campaigns, when inexpensive internet campaigns work just as well, if not better. The leopard may have changed his spots from newspaper ads to internet ads, but vendors should be aware, he is still a leopard.
Pennisi's Take on Typical Real Estate Advertising
At Pennisi, we believe typical real estate advertising has potential to damage the value of your home, which is why we focus our marketing and advertising efforts towards genuine and qualified buyers. If advertising alone sold your home, you wouldn't need an agent. The truth is, the type of agent that relies primarily on advertising isn't working hard enough to warrant you paying commission.
Get in touch with Pennisi Real Estate today to discuss your selling needs with an agent you can trust.