Keys to Successfully Marketing Homes are Changing in Illinois Real Estate Market, Says RE/MAX Agents

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Though some reports in the news media might suggest otherwise, people are still buying and selling homes. In fact, during 2008, more than 66,000 homes changed hands in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market, according to data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC (MRED). However, there is no question that home sellers faced a more challenging environment in 2008 and will have to deal with similar issues in 2009.

I'm shifting more of my property marketing budget to the Internet

Though some reports in the news media might suggest otherwise, people are still buying and selling homes. In fact, during 2008, more than 66,000 homes changed hands in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market, according to data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC (MRED).

However, there is no question that home sellers faced a more challenging environment in 2008 and will have to deal with similar issues in 2009, according to Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

"Some definite patterns are emerging as far as the steps our agents feel are most important to sell a home successfully in the northern Illinois real estate market in the year ahead," said Merrion. "Not surprisingly, some of these keys to success involve close cooperation and weekly communication between the agent and the seller, while others are tied more directly to the agent's activities."

•Price the property properly - RE/MAX agents stress the importance of pricing each property correctly from the moment it is first listed. "Price is everything right now," contends Ellen Silverman of RE/MAX Vision II in Chicago. "When it comes to Chicago real estate, a home must be priced at its market value or even slightly below that level if it is going to sell these days."

•Make sure the home looks great - Recognizing that many competitive listings are likely to be on the market, agents and sellers are doing more than ever to make sure their property is in excellent condition and is neat, clean and uncluttered whenever it is shown to buyers. Brenda Lawler of RE/MAX Showcase in Gurnee, Ill., said she is becoming much more aggressive than in years past about staging homes to look their best. She often recommends that sellers consider using professional stagers. Sherry Justice of RE/MAX TEAM 2000 in Orland Park, Ill., also is urging sellers to do all they can to make the house look better than their competition. "That may mean investing in repairs and cosmetic improvements that wouldn't have been essential two years ago," she said.

•Increase Internet presence and response - With 87 percent or more of buyers now doing much of their initial home shopping via the Internet, agents are putting more resources in that direction.
"I'm shifting more of my property marketing budget to the Internet," said Donna Raven of RE/MAX Regency in Franklin Park, Ill. "It's the most cost effective way to go, and it gives you the ability to show buyers so much about each listing with photos or videos." Brian Knott of RE/MAX Professionals West in Elgin, Ill., reports that his marketing plans for 2009 include a commitment to create a more interactive personal Web site and answer questions faster than ever to inquiries it generates. "RE/MAX has a great Web site in http://www.illinoisproperty.com. It generates a lot of inquiries from buyers, and they expect quick answers.

•Do more direct marketing - In addition to the Internet, agents say they will do more mailings and hold more open houses to generate more local buzz about the listing and attract new prospects.
According to Knott, investors are one of the most active groups of buyers in the Illinois real estate market these days. He plans to increase his communications to the investor audience through an effective e-mail campaign. Sherry Justice of Orland Park was among those agents who intend to increase the mailings they send. "Neighbors can be a great resource, so I'll be mailing more postcards announcing new listings, open houses, price reductions and things of that sort," she said.

•Improve client communications -- A big part of an agent's job today is to educate sellers about the market and especially about the competing properties currently for sale, contends Ellen Silverman, who works primarily on Chicago's North Side. "This is a time for an agent to be compassionate, particularly with sellers. Many sellers are in some type of financial distress, but at the same time you have be very direct about the facts of the marketplace."

RE/MAX Regional Director Jim Merrion said that constantly readjusting their marketing strategies and reshaping their communications with clients is what sets the best agents in Illinois real estate apart from their competition. "Successful agents know they must adjust to each new set of market conditions and educate their customers to the market as well," said Merrion. "But at the same time, they understand that certain things continue to be true in any real estate market - the importance of location, condition and price and the need to present each listing to the widest possible audience utilizing all possible media."

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Laura Ortoleva
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
(847) 428-4200 ext. 224
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