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List ’em Right, Dog!

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It’s a Dog Eat Dog World Out There

I had a buyer in town for the last three days looking at homes. She’s pretty motivated so we saw all 25-ish homes she honed in on online. We did see some very nice ones and found a few for her to bring her other half to see next week, but many of the listings were dogs. Hopefully the four legged dogs out there won’t be offended by this characterization.

But seriously, talk about overpriced, under-staged garbage listings. Dirty, cluttered, poorly maintained homes with prices that are extremely optimistic made up about a third of the inventory we looked at. And that doesn’t even count the four listings that we could not get access to for various reasons, including a newly installed tenant, a seller who doesn’t return showing request calls, a busted pipe, and a fire in the bedroom. The worst part of the whole ordeal was the unrealistic picture that the listing agents painted with their descriptions and photos on the MLS and other marketing media. Wonderful! Beautiful! Don’t Pass This One By! Do they really think they can trick someone in to buying this junk?

Your Listings Reflect Your Brand – Are They Saying ‘Woof’?

I was not the only one who was disappointed though. My client was also miffed, and she stated that she felt like our time was being wasted because of misrepresented listings. We drove many miles out of our way to see some of these homes only to find that they did not measure up, either the description was not realistic or, in some cases, the photos were taken in 1992 and don’t even closely resemble the house in its current, pre-foreclosure state. My client and I discussed the fact that one or two of them may be a good fit for a certain kind of buyer, but that the advertisement did nothing to target the people who might be interested.

The most interesting thing she said – and this was unsolicited and un-prompted – is really worth mulling over. After a couple of bad showings in a row that happened to have the same familiar real estate sign in front of it, she turned and said to me ‘This XYZ Real Estate company is not very professional, is it?’ And when we pulled up to another home with the same sign out front she said ‘Uh oh, this should be fun.’

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So she left from her visit with a very bad impression of a certain Brand, based solely on their listings that she was looking at.  I say brand because these homes were not, in fact, even listed with the same company. They were listed by several different offices which happened to be the same franchise. A franchise that, until recently, had a reputation of hiring only the most experienced agents. What happened to that? Did they lose track of their goals and loosen their standards in order to compete? Is this new strategy working for them? I’m guessing not, but I could be wrong.

Are You a Mangy Mutt or a Purebred?

Your listing inventory is a reflection of your business and, like it or not, buyers and sellers and agents judge your professionalism based on the listings you take and how you market them. Are you using this to your advantage? What do your listings say about you, your business and your brand?

Written By

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.



  1. BawldGuy

    October 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    What you’ve described is a living poster of why the public holds real estate agents in such distain. How smart do you have to be to figure some of this stuff out?

  2. Steve Simon

    October 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Mangy Mutts need love too:)
    If a property is badly priced most often it can be assessed as such without a visit.
    I think the amazing thing about your post is this:
    You showed 25 homes in three days (that is a years labor in my mind).
    Sanderson must be likeable, cause the buyer stayed with you for all that time you were showing her “curs”.
    Just my thoughts, God I am glad i don’t have to anything I don’t want to in order to survive (played 18 this morning) 🙂

  3. Pam Buda

    October 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Great post–when I tour poorly prepared listings I get grumpy. I also get peeved when I see bad grammar and spelling on MLS copy (never mind bad photography or non-existent photos). Is it too much trouble for an agent to proof-read their copy blocks before uploading a listing? Or run a spell-check?

    One of my favorites was for a $3,900,000 vineyard listing in the wine country of Sonoma County, California where I am based. The agent had about 2 sentences of copy and had mis-spelled vineyard, “vinyard”. I don’t care if it was a $200,000 condo, is it too much to ask to double-check what you post?

  4. Linsey

    October 6, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Not only does it make the listing agent look like they are blowing smoke in their descriptions, they are missing their target market.

    This weekend I showed a home that was a ‘cosmetic fixer’. It also said ‘renovations needed’. Interesting because I didn’t see a kitchen or baths that needed ‘renovations’. I didn’t see a kitchen or baths AT ALL. There were no kitchen cabinets, so counters, no fixtures, no interior doors, no sinks – well you get the picture. My client was looking for a ‘fixer’ not a full construction project. Why not direct the marketing to the audience that this home would appeal to most – like buyers with construction background?

    Just be honest. I’d rather have 3 well targeted showings than 10 showings with the wrong audience.

  5. Vicki Moore

    October 6, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    You are so right. We laugh about that in my office all the time: “John just listed a new one – you know it’s a piece of crap.” On the other hand, I drove by a listing with a particular agent’s sign out front and thought: Oh, I’ve got to see that one. Carol listed it – it’s got to be good.

    Btw – I had to read your post first just because of that picture!

    Excellent writing. Thanks for the humor.

  6. Lisa Sanderson

    October 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    BawldGuy: It ain’t rocket science, that’s fer sure!

    Steve: You’re so awesome.

    Pam: I get pretty frickin’ grumpy too! 😉 And yes thank you for bringing it up, spelling counts. EVERYTHING counts. It’s all a reflection of one’s professionalism & credibility.

    Linsey: YES! Get the *right* people in the door and the property will sell. Easy peasy.

    Vickie: Compliments will get you everywhere! Thanks for reading and for honing in on the point. We do get a reputation based on the kinds of listings we get. And that will affect how consumers see us AND the showing traffic we get from other agents.

  7. Jason Sandquist

    October 6, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I have been showing homes to Canadian buyers the past couple of days (yes they come to Minnesota too and not just Phoenix), but anyways they were quick to point out the misconception of photos online. These homes were upper bracket and I was a little ashamed, why because most were from my own company that definitely prides itself on being the leader distinctive homes.

  8. Brampton Realtor

    October 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I guess that client had a ruff time?
    Oh, i should be shot for that one.

    But on a serious note what you are saying its totaly true.
    Its not about volume of people passing though your open house.
    But a properly targeted market segment.

  9. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Lisa, I once showed a single guy a house advertised like this. ” gorgeous home, blah, blah, blah.

    We went in and a bar was hanging over the stair banister. It got worse, but this is a blog so won’t post how much worse here.

    When you have been in the business long you learn which agents over price, and over state the condition of the home.

  10. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    opps bra….

  11. Ben Goheen

    October 6, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Dear fellow agents,
    NEVER, I repeat, NEVER use the phrase “won’t last long” in the description. It’s a curse, your listing will then be on the market much longer then all the competition. I laugh whenever I see this phrase on a sold listing that has 100+ days on the market. I’m sure I can search my MLS right now and find at least 10 examples, so just don’t do it.

    PS – go Vikings!

  12. Helene

    October 7, 2008 at 5:50 am

    I’m Lisa’s buyer and I’m sure glad Steve is not my broker and that she is. 🙂 Since I travel almost 2 hours to get to the area where I am looking, I truly appreciate the fact that Lisa spends all that time with me! I wish the ads were honest so as not to waste my time. I have made 3 trips since June and I am truly disappointed that my search is not over yet. The houses I chose to see looked so good on paper. Unfortunately, so many of them had been miserably misrepresented and an insult to a serious buyer. By “embellishing” your ads you may get me to your listing but after I see the house I realize that I have been duped and don’t ever want to see another one of your listings!

  13. Pocono Real Estate

    October 7, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Hi Lisa,

    My biggest pet peeve is crappy photos on listings, especially when it’s the high end of the price range.

    Another one is when the listing agent doesn’t take the time to make sure they get the directions right. There were TWO mistakes in one the other day and it was a top of the market house. A few years ago we went miles out of our way up in one of the big developments because the roads were renamed and he left out one of the roads.

  14. Lisa Sanderson

    October 7, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Jason: So you’ll be forwarding this article to everyone in your office then? lol

    BR: ‘a properly targeted market segment’ Bingo!

    Missy: You don’t have to go in to detail. I’m sure we all have stories to tell. What I can’t figure out is, what are these people thinking? Ya put your dang bars away if you have ANYONE coming over let alone a potential buyer. 😉

    Ben: Good one. PS-What is this Viking reference?

    Helene: Thanks for being my inspiration and for chiming in here. You are going to have an awesome home in the Pokies very soon. I can feel it!

    Malcolm: Welcome to AG! As you can read from comments here, it is not just the Poconos that has these issues. At least there’s that. 😉

  15. StraightDave

    December 2, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    All: Identification as a foreclosure is a big clue… most effs have lots of stuff ripped out. So, buyer expectations should be in line. It may take 25 “dogs” to find a neat pooch… the price one pays in this market.

    Perhaps, the MLS should have an agents (only) “rate this house” for each listing, or “rate this listing for accuracy.”

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