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Leveraging technology opens a world of possibilities for real estate marketing.  Most agents understand the power of the MLS and syndication to data sites such as, Zillow and the like.  Few however, take real advantage of what technology can do in local marketing, and it can create a huge competitive advantage the real estate agent.

For this post, we’ll focus on one of the more powerful techniques an agent can leverage which I call “virtual inventory”.  Most buyers today, especially millennial buyers, are looking for “move in ready” inventory, and we all know that can mean different things to different people.   As the selling agent, your chances that the listing has exactly what that buyer wants at that moment time is low to say the least.  Even if you get your seller to agree to upgrades (which most simply won’t do), you are just guessing at what the market wants.  This is where “virtual inventory” really helps.

Proposed Kitchen Remodel

Virtual inventory simply refers to “proposed” changes to a property.  It can be as simple as some new flooring or cabinets to an entirely new structure.  The key is images.  People want to “see” the improvement.  Most of the time, these images can be provided directly by service providers or trade groups such as NAIHBR along with pricing estimates making things simple for the selling agent.

In most cases, virtual inventory cannot be used on an MLS listing (there are a few exceptions where it can be), so how does an agent leverage this technique?  Simple, local and point of interest marketing and their own website.  Here are a few examples…

  • Having “as is” and “proposed” listings on an agent’s website is a powerful way to build additional value for the client and differentiate the agent from competitors.
  • Take one flyers can have before and after data based on whether purchased as is or with improvements.
  • Agents who do open houses can create room based improvement pages showing clients what the house “could be”, while using text and scanning techniques to gather customer contacts. **NOTE – This technique is particularly effective for getting additional listings when neighbors see how you are marketing the home and it takes very little effort.

The list of effective techniques goes on and on.

So how do you get started with building virtual inventory?  The easiest way to work with organizations that provide aggregated information such as NAIHBR.  NAIHBR is a not for profit trade association that provides simple forms where agents can request images and data for both renovation and new construction options.  Otherwise you can try to work with your local service providers to supply the images and estimates.

Jeffrey Cook, Executive Director

Jeffrey Cook

NAIHBR Executive Director

Meet the Author …

Jeffrey Cook

20 year veteran of IT and real estate marketing systems development. Jeff co-founded and was the development architect for the Home123 marketing platform.

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