How to sell a house: The sign, direct mail, open house and more

Ask real estate agents about the traditional marketing techniques to see if they still hold true in today’s market. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Jonathan K. of Potomac, Md.)

Ask real estate agents about the traditional marketing techniques to see if they still hold true in today’s market. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Jonathan K. of Potomac, Md.)

The marketing techniques used to sell your home will vary significantly based on the target buyer, local market and home's condition. But be aware that tried-and-true methods still have their place.

When considering hiring a real estate agent, ask questions to be sure she or he is experienced with the most modern take on these traditional tools:

The sign

The "for sale" sign has long been the first point of contact for potential buyers cruising desirable neighborhoods. With a whopping 253 percent increase over the last four years in online searches for real estate, lawn signs might seem obsolete. But tech upgrades have updated this tool.

Many signs now feature a text-message number that allows the sending of listing details to a potential buyer's mobile phone. A home listing feature sheet, complete with photos, can also be attached to the sign, providing passersby with pertinent information. These methods can be particularly useful in areas with above-average pedestrian traffic or in suburban neighborhoods with moderate traffic.

Direct mail

Direct mail can be a great blend of the old and the new, using a few tantalizing photos to entice interested buyers to the web to learn more. The use of QR codes in direct mail campaigns can achieve this and much more. A QR code is a barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone or mobile device, and which will link to predetermined digital media. This could be an online property listing, an interactive floor plan, a map of the area or other way to show off a property's unique features.

Open houses

Though most buyers review homes online, there are reasons to consider a traditional open house. An open house for other real estate agents may bring your property to mind more easily when agents try to match clients with homes. Regular open houses may also attract neighbors who can let others know about the house.

If nothing else, an open house can provide a target date by which to have all home staging, painting and small repairs done so your home will be truly market-ready. Feedback received from early open houses can help you gauge how your home is perceived and allow you to make quick adjustments.


Combining traditional home-marketing tools with digital methods will ensure that you reach a wider range of possible buyers. Smaller homes and bungalows, for instance, may appeal to both younger, tech-savvy first-time buyers as well as downsizing older homeowners.

Whatever marketing methods are used, the key is to know your home's target buyer, something about which a experienced, reputable real estate agent can advise you.

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