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From ‘stale’ to sold: How to refresh an old listing

Listings aren’t selling the way they have in the past couple of years. 

Many newer agents have never seen a market like this where listings on the market start to become “stale.” The longer they sit, the more people begin to think something might be wrong with it, making it harder to sell.

This can be frustrating for both the agent and the seller, but it is important to remember that all properties can be sold with the right marketing strategy.


Why is it stale?


Before implementing any marketing strategies, you must first identify the cause of the listing being stale. Otherwise, you’re just guessing what might work instead of being the expert and approaching it the right way the first time. 

So, what is the most common reason a listing has soured? The price. 

The best marketing in the world isn’t going to get someone to overpay for a house wildly. Many sellers look at what their neighbours got 12-plus months ago and want the same, OR they need the same to avoid losing money.

The price is your top marketing tool. You need to get your sellers on board with the right price, which is a topic for another day.

For the purpose of this article, let’s work on the assumption that you’re working with the correct price; now, you have to look at how it’s being presented. 


Best foot forward


Is the property staged and showcasing its highest and best use? Are there minor repairs that need to be done, so it doesn’t come off as a burden to a potential buyer? 

Sometimes, temporarily taking it off the market, giving the property a series of minor fixes, even a fresh coat of paint, and staging can bring it back. 

Get quality photos and videos done, especially if you’ve refreshed the home inside. You have to put your best foot forward. High-quality images next to a house online, with bad photos taken on an agent’s phone, will be seen more favourably by the public. 


Digital Marketing


Put an in-depth blog post on your website about the home. Showcase as much as possible about the house; you have as much space as you want there. 

People will read blog posts as long as 2,000 words if they’re spending hundreds of thousands or millions on a home. 

These are also great for ranking on Google since you’re the only one with unique content about the listing itself.

Create social media campaigns, both organic and paid. On the organic side, don’t just share a photo of the house. Do multiple posts and stories highlighting specific cool features of the home. Use those features to tell a story. 

For example, does it have a nice breakfast nook? Post a photo of that and paint the picture for potential buyers of them having their morning coffee there. You’re selling them on the lifestyle, not the four walls they’re buying.

Send it through email to your database. Look for other companies and service providers that send newsletters to their databases and see if you can get them to include your listing. 

Reach out to popular social accounts in your area and publications and see if they’ll feature your home. Worst case, they’ll say no. 

Go to niche audiences. For example, when I sold real estate, a home had an outdoor hockey rink with two-ton chillers that kept it open longer. I shared it online with a bunch of hockey writers with the idea of it being a hockey fan’s dream home. A few of them shared it. 

It added an extra 20,000 impressions of the house and only cost the time of reaching out.


Go deep– not wide


You most likely have a pretty good idea of who the most likely buyers are. Host an event that would appeal to the potential buyer. 

It could be bringing in a chef and doing a cooking demo in the kitchen. If you know specific agents in your market who’d have the buyer, invite them for a professional development event. They can simultaneously spend time at the house while getting something out of it. 

Using the example I shared above of the home with the hockey rink:

If I were to market it today, I’d even consider hosting a small charity hockey tournament. Someone paying for a house with a hockey rink almost definitely plays hockey, so get them there this way. Invite the local newspaper to cover the event,

You’re going deep into the community of people who will likely buy or know the right buyer. This is a time to get creative. Generic open houses won’t always cut it. Sometimes you need to curate and invite a specific group of people. 

This doesn’t mean you’re excluding other potential buyers. You can host multiple events for the different buyer groups who are likely to buy. 

Don’t limit yourself. It also has the added bonus of growing your database and goodwill within the community. Even if they don’t buy that specific listing, there are others they might, or it could create referral opportunities.


Offer incentives


Look at what home builders do. They offer incentives all the time—different upgrades, better deposit structures, rent guarantees, etc. 

You have options as well. You can offer a 12-month warranty on the home’s systems and appliances through a company like Canadian Home Shield. 

It can give them extra peace of mind, and when deciding between your listing and another similar one, it can give you the edge to get an offer for your clients. 

Listen to people’s objections about the home and look for solutions. Sometimes you have to get creative. You’d be surprised at how often something that may cost only a couple thousand can close a million-dollar deal.

A stale listing that hasn’t sold needs attention. The longer it sits, the lower the price will ultimately sell for. At least for now, the days of homes being snatched up so fast you barely market them are gone. You need to approach this phase of your service to your clients strategically. 

You never want them to think you’re not doing enough to get their home sold. That can kill the relationship and future referrals as well. Be proactive.

If a seller is unrealistic about the selling price and you don’t think they’ll come down, it’s better to turn the listing away than take one that won’t sell.