While the National Association of Realtors does a great job tracking the information sources such as real estate agents, yard signs and open houses that homebuyers use to choose the homes they buy, little is known about the impact of ancillary marketing tools such as flyers. We know that 90 percent of buyers use real state agents to look for homes, 77 percent use the Internet and 71 percent peruse yard signs, 51 percent open houses, and half use newspapers to search for a home.
When asked where they first learned about the home purchased, 24 percent of buyers identified the Internet, up strongly from 15 percent in 2004 and only 2 percent in 1997. Although most buyers use an agent to complete the transaction, 36 first learn about the home they buy from a real estate agent and 15 percent from yard signs; five other categories were 7 percent or less.
Because there's no way to track the efficacy of flyers, except by counting the number that disappear and asking potential buyers if the flyers helped them in their decision, many agents may wonder if flyers really help sell houses at all.
Flyers can certainly help tip an uncertain buyer who may be in need of more information. If you design and distribute flyers with enthusiasm, they provide the buyer with a memorable tool to compare the costs and features of the homes they've seen. At the very least, they'll impress anyone who sees them with your attention to detail and your effort to please your seller. And flyers are especially helpful for augmenting Open Houses.
"The Open House flyer is one of the most useful and inexpensive advertising tools a Realtor can utilize before, during and after an Open House is held," says Encino, California broker Michael Trust . "A good quality, well-written, colorful and informative flyer has good staying power and may end up on a potential buyer's kitchen counter or refrigerator door rather than in the trash."
Offering his tips on what makes a great flyer , Trust suggests:
Keep that flyer tube filled. "Check back often to see if refills are needed. You may lose a sale by not having a flyer available for the drive-bys and an empty tube can leave the impression that the home has been neglected by the Realtor or homeowner," says Trust. "Keep the outside tube filled with Open House flyers even on Open House Day."
Print the flyer on light colored paper. "If the Buyer is touring several Open House events in one day and has a stack of flyers on white paper, your flyer will be color-coded and can be easily identified," he says. "Dark papers conflict with colored photos, so better to use light colored good stock paper to make a lasting impression."
Print 3 to 4 good quality colored photos on your flyer. "These photos should show the best views of the property; front, foyer, living room with fireplace and so forth," says Trust. "If you do not have good quality photos then you will need to get them taken. Poor photos are not a good sign of a quality sales presentation."
Make sure the photos are current and do not show any holiday decorations left over from last season, he suggests. Holiday decorations date the home, so if you are having an Open House in July but the photos show Christmas decorations from December, this is a clear indication to the buyer that this home has been for sale for some time and there might be a problem.
Keep the same font, keep it simple. "The top of the flyer should have only a simple heading such as, 'Open House - Saturday - September 9, 2006- 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.' Below that, include the address of the property in good detail," says Trust. "Use a larger font for this heading but make sure the font used for the entire flyer is the same throughout. Avoid script, fancy or italic fonts. They can be difficult to read, especially for senior Buyers."
List the basic information first on the flyer Start with the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and then go right into good descriptions of the best qualities of the home. "Begin each short sentence with solid, descriptive and visual words such as, 'Park-like views,' 'Tree-lined street,' 'Winding oak staircase,'" says Trust. "Skip hokey descriptions like, 'Room Enough to Bring Your Toys.' Bullet these descriptions on the front of the flyer using the bullet tool in your word processing or flyer program. The features need to be quickly read in eye-easy font, bold and should be to the point. Too much information with a difficult font and little open background or "white space" in the margins is a turn-off. Give the buyer the facts and make it easy to remember."
Keep self-promotion to a minimum. "At the bottom of the flyer include the Realtor listing information with at least two phone numbers and an email address," says Trust. "You want to advertise the home and keep the buyer focused on the important aspects of the listing, which are printed on the front of the flyer."
Spellcheck for accuracy. Have someone else proofread it for you just to be sure.
"One week before the Open House is scheduled, place at least 20 copies in a flyer tube next to the "Open House This Saturday and Sunday" sign in front of the property," advises Trust. "Passer-bys interested in your listing will almost always stop to pick up a flyer, which may end up on the refrigerator door helping to reserve the date for an interested Buyer. Having the flyers available before the event is an opportunity for the Buyer to keep the date handy and can be a visual reminder of the upcoming Open House."
"During the Open House, keep a fresh supply of flyers in two or three places around the home, but be sure to keep a small stack somewhere near the entry so that each buyer will prompted to take one as they enter the property."
If you have a 'Take One' sign (a folded index card is fine), place this next to the flyers so the buyers will follow this instruction; they almost always do. (We are creatures of habit.)
Next to the guest book (where you will ask for names and phone numbers), and a stack of your business cards, keep a small supply of pencils or pens handy so the Buyer can jot down notes as they go through the home. This is optional but will give the buyer a chance to refer to the flyer as they go through the property and make any notes that may be helpful later on.
If the buyer has any questions, notes taken during the Open House can be addressed directly from the flyer. Good questions addressed to the Realtor or homeowner is yet another marketing opportunity to open up a dialog about the property while developing a business relationship between Realtor and buyer. Most people will leave with the flyers in hand, so make sure everyone who comes through the door has at least one flyer as they exit the property.
After that it's up to the buyer. The flyer may end up in the trash or it may end up on the buyer's refrigerator door. "The Realtor's name and phone number are on the flyer, which gives continued exposure if the buyer has any questions," notes Trust. "Realtors working the phones for follow-up calls from the Guest Book have yet another advantage if the buyer has a good flyer in front of them during these pre-sales/post Open House calls."
It's a matter of working it. Like any marketing too, flyers are only as good as what you put into them.