A Winning Bid: Auctions Offer a Boost to Online Listings

Listing your properties for auction can be a great way to increase exposure, and maybe even make a sale.

March 1, 2001

Dear Mr. Internet,
Are there any other ways to market my listings online besides showing them on my or my company's Web site?—Anthea Lackey, Coldwell Banker Professionals, Brentwood, Tenn.

Dear Anthea,
There’s a very powerful way to market your listing online that’s under most Internet-savvy real estate professionals' radar screens. The benefits of using this unique method include:

  • having hundreds, if not thousands, of interested people view your listing within days;
  • driving more traffic (and leads) to your own Web site; and
  • helping you take in even more listings by standing out from your competitors.

The best part is that this technique can be accomplished with very little effort and at minimal cost to you. The secret is listing your properties for sale in Yahoo! Auctions. Here’s an overview on how it works.

  1. Go to Yahoo! Auctions and register as a seller. The cost is minimal, averaging around $2.25 per listing, if you don’t add special options such as boldface to your listings.
  2. Submit your listing as an auction item with the listing price as your “reserve” bid. The reserve price is the minimum price for which you’ll sell the listing. You’ll also be asked to name a “starting” price to get the auction going. Make your starting price the same as your reserve listing price. Include a compelling description, pictures of the property (up to 10 photos are allowed), and links to your e-mail address and primary Web site. You can even get fancy by using simple HTML tags to make add boldface text and other effects, making the text descriptions look more appealing and professional. Be sure you show full and appropriate licensing information--including your name, brokerage affiliation, phone number, and states in which you are licensed--for each listing you are offering for auction.
  3. Create your Yahoo! Auction "booth," and customize it so that it looks similar to your Web site. Yahoo! auction booths are special areas of the auction site that are dedicated to your items, such as listings. The site gives you access to Yahoo! “PageBuilder” tools to use in customizing your booth.
  4. Promote your auction listings by including an “Auction Specials" section on your Web site. Establish links between this special section and the current auctions you have in place.
  5. Track how many unique visitors view the property during the auction period, which typically lasts seven to 10 days. Browsing and bidding at the Yahoo! site is free, so it’s not uncommon for well over 1,000 people to view auction properties in just a few days. These views mean incredible, additional exposure for your listings and for you, since each listing has a link to your e-mail and Web site. Some properties even sell at auction. In addition, having the capacity to incorporate these auctions into your overall marketing plan is a powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competitors in soliciting new listings. Show sellers a current auction during your listing presentation.

You could do everything required to auction your listings on Yahoo! yourself. Or you can maximize the benefits of using online auctions by letting your Web designer and your assistant do most of the work for you , so you can concentrate on doing the part of the business you enjoy most.

Have your Web designer:

  • build an attractive Web page template (stored locally on your computer) that you can use to maintain a consistent "look" with every new listing posted on Yahoo! Auctions.
  • customize your Yahoo booth to resemble your Web site.
  • create a special auction section to your current site and establish links with your auctions.

If you don't currently have a Web designer, don't worry. You can find the talent you need (typically within 24 hours) by going to eLance.com and submitting a request for someone who can complete your particular project.

Have your personal assistant:

  • modify the template with the information for each new listing you take, and post the listing in the appropriate location of Yahoo! Auctions and in your Yahoo! Auction Booth.
  • Add the link to the new listings auction page to the "Current Auctions" section of your site.
  • Send an e-mail to the sellers with a link to the auction page so they see how you are marketing their property.
  • Remove links from your "Current Auctions" site for those auctions that have expired.

Again, use eLance.com to find an assistant if you don't already have one.

The only thing left for you to do is take more listings and handle all those leads that come in--generated by the extra exposure from the online property auctions. Keep in mind that the leads you do receive are probably highly qualified; otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered to look for specific properties on an auction site.

If you do end up selling the property through this auction process, great! But remember that the main purpose of the auction is to gain more exposure, more leads, and more listings as you powerfully differentiate yourself from your competitors. Not a bad payoff for such a simple idea.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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