Most Common Realtor MLS Marketing Mistakes When Targeting Investor Buyers

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Many of you may have been looking to buy a small (one to four unit) investment property recently. Prices have come down in many areas of the country, including some of the most up-and-coming areas. Combined with low fixed rate long term financing, these properties can make excellent investments.

How do you find such a property? Unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon a local Realtor who specializes in these and has taken the time to build a website, you may find (as I have) that the average agent does an extremely poor job marketing these properties via the MLS.

What are the Most Common Marketing Mistakes Made by Realtors on the MLS?

  • Bad photography – I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, as you may have already stumbled upon sites like this one

    For some reason, the REO agents tend to post the lousiest of photos, IMO. I can’t imagine what goes through their minds as they trod through a property and take photos of the least appealing aspects, frequently shot at a weird angle and with awful lighting to boot. We don’t need to see the toilet bowl or a pile of refuse in the living room. Please.

  • Inadequate descriptions – Again, REO properties generally take the booby prize here. An investor needs to know the basics, just give it to us! And by “basics” what we mostly want is an accurate picture of the property’s financials. Is it currently rented? What’s the rent, taxes, and other fixed costs? How about a cap rate? Many times, if the listing agent can be bothered to post the cap rate, it is obviously wrong for one reason or another. More professional listings (such as those for larger apartment buildings) rarely neglect to provide these details. Why should the smaller investor be forced to dig to find this information?
  • No video – An out of town buyer, in particular, would be thrilled to see a video of the property posted on Youtube or elsewhere. But even a local buyer can see if the property is worth viewing and thereby avoid wasting everyone’s time I should emphasize that, as far as investors are concerned, this does not need to be a slick professional production: twenty minutes with iMovie or another program would do the trick to edit a decent walk through of the property. If nothing else, a listing agent who seizes the initiative to post a short video would at least demonstrate to the buyer that the agent is going the extra mile to market the property.

Calling all listing agents out there – please do your job and make your client’s investment properties as appealing as possible, while providing the information investors need to determine whether the property is suitable. That should not be too much to ask.


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  1. I can’t agree more. I just read a blog post on another site where the author took a MLS listing and ripped it apart. I think it really makes a big difference to get the buyer to the next step by viewing the property. Grab the attention on the MLS, close them during viewing.

  2. Barbara P. Najera on

    Realtors must take advantage of technology when doing marketing. Meaning, one must spoon feed necessary information and details answering possible question of your potential buyer. They surf because they are checking their options and are trying to see what will fit their requirements. Realtors must be responsible to address that if they want sales.

    In short, when an interested buyer come across your website and find no answer then he will most likely click and look for another option.
    .-= Barbara P. Najera´s last blog ..Holiday Planning – Packing For a Cruise =-.

  3. Florence,

    I agree that there is nothing more frustrating than a property posted on MLS that does not have the financial statements. I have always been really frustrated with this.

    I have never seen a video for an investment property on MLS. I see a lot of videos for principal residences however.

    Having said, this I don’t spend a lot of time searching the MLS. This is because the Canadian MLS underwent some major changes a couple of years ago. I don’t find it user friendly anymore.

    Onwards and Upwards,
    .-= Neil Uttamsingh´s last blog ..2 big fat reasons I don’t want to be a real estate investor anymore =-.

  4. As the owner of an investment property brokerage, I couldn’t agree more. The goal is always more transparency, due-diligence, photos, videos, maps, images, links, and more. This can be hard to do on the MLS but agents can certainly direct them to a single-property site or back to the agent’s site to get the remaining details.

    Florence, kudos on this post.

  5. Eric in Silicon Valley on

    As to financial in listings, I do appreciate it when they have something (e.g .loopnet), but I often feel that whoever put them together wasn’t trying very hard to put out something that would stand a little scrutiny. For example, I would like to see assumptions listed, especially when they make the assumption that reserves are 0% and that the new owner won’t hiring property management.

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