The coronavirus pandemic has set the world on its ear. No person or business remains unscathed by now, least of all real estate professionals and the buyers and sellers they represent. If ever there was a time for innovating thinking and marketing, today is that time. With all this in mind, I was happy for an opportunity to connect with San Francisco real estate icon Tracy McLaughlin last week. I figure, if anybody has an inside track on post-COVID real estate marketing, it’s Tracy.
By way of a brief introduction, Tracy McLaughlin has been a San Francisco Bay area top producing agent 14 consecutive years. She’s also ranked in the top 20 in the U.S. with over $2.5 billion worth of residential real estate sales as of this writing. She's also the author of the bestseller "Real Estate Rescue," about how to maximize home value. Her list of awards and accolades is extensive, but her marketing savvy and her design/construction acumen seem to me to be critical keys to her success.
We’ve covered pre-planning, ads, marketing, and especially the power of photography many times on Realty Biz News, but last week the guru of imagery, strategy, and curb appeal cemented those facets of sales better than we ever could. Here's Tracy's take and tips.
RealtyBiz: As one of America’s most successful real estate agents, why do you think some agencies fail to “get it” where ROI and property marketing are concerned?
Tracy McLaughlin: I think that some agencies feel that photographs, videos etc are all “generic marketing”. However, the reality is that investing in THE very best photographer and videographer is the absolute key to superior marketing. A photo can either enhance the value of your home or actually devalue it. Photos need to make rooms look as large as possible and shot from the exact right angles to showcase a home in its best light. Videos also need to be done with clever music and fast editing for today’s consumers. Elevating the level of photos and video content will absolutely affect how a home sells.
RealtyBiz: Very few agents we’ve profiled in the last few years seem to grasp the importance of photography in advertising and marketing campaigning. Is this because some are just not image-centric in their thinking? Or, is inadequate photography a function of budget? Can you give us a few photography tips from your experience?
Tracy McLaughlin: The best photos make every room as large as possible. Photos should not cut furniture in half or not incorporate an entire furniture grouping. The best marketing has a “money shot” of the front of the house that makes it look as large as possible. Aerials are also super important in relation to showcasing the environment around the property.
RealtyBiz: A big part of your sales success seems to come from pre-listing planning and design. Can you offer some simple advice for agencies or even sellers in this area?
Tracy McLaughlin: This is one of the most critical components of monetizing what is likely your largest asset. Paint, carpet, landscape prep, and simple surface changes like countertops, vanities, and flooring can literally game change your ultimate sale’s price. The pre-listing prep and design we do provide a five to ten dollar return on every dollar invested.
RealtyBiz: Given the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, what advice can you give agents and sellers on maximizing their marketing efforts?
Tracy McLaughlin: Videos, facetime walkthroughs, using floorplan visuals (a company that will show the floorplan in a color-coded format) and great, very complete photos that showcase every indoor and outdoor space, are all integral components of marketing today. These are all very efficient and preclude wasting time with unqualified or not serious buyers.
Back in 2006, Tracy McLaughlin founded Morgan Lane, a highly successful boutique brokerage in Marin County, California. Then in 2009, she and Mark McLaughlin bought Pacific Union International, which they proceeded to build into the 5th biggest brokerage in the United States. After selling Pacific Union, Tracy was recruited by The Agency, a full-service, luxury real estate brokerage and lifestyle company with more than 500 agents in offices throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Now to the point.
The success this Bay Area professional has built is emblematic for the situation agents and all sellers face today. When disaster strikes, who do we turn to? What advice do we need? Would you rather hear the fluff, or just get down to the brass tacks? Well, there it is in Tracy's answers up there. Efficiency, doing things right the first time, and understanding the priorities to get top dollar in a buyer's market, that's the advice every agent and seller needs. Pre-listing, planning, imagery, and special attention to details are even more important in these trying times.
The bottom line is, invest in the best from the beginning, and reap the rewards in the end. At least this is my take on the strategies of one of the best in the business.