Sell my house! But don’t …

sell my houseI am always surprised to hear this from a potential client. I sit down at the table to discuss the marketing plan and the potential seller tells me how they need to sell their house fast because they have been relocated, or have already bought another house, or whatever their reason is, they need to move on. But they don’t want a sign in the front yard and/or they don’t want it advertised on the multiple listing service, and/or they don’t want a lock box.

As a Realtor, I use everything within my grasp to market a client’s home. I use the internet, I use word-of-mouth, I use, I use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and more. Part of my job is to expose the home to as many agents and buyers as humanly possible. When a seller says, “But don’t …” I have to believe they do not realize how much they are limiting the potential of selling their home.

The MLS in Santa Clara County exposes a client’s home to 22,000 subscribing agents. Then publicly advertises the home on and to potentially millions of viewers. is currently the #1 site utilized by buyers when searching for a home online according to To say the least, keeping a home off the MLS limits its exposure dramatically.

Next step is to place a sign in the front yard. With all the exposure on the internet and MLS many buyers still find their new home by driving by and seeing the sign. Why? Because most buyers are interested in certain neighborhoods. They may have been at an open house down the street and will drive by your home not knowing it is for sale if they don’t see a sign.

In this market the yard sign should have a website to view more photos than can fit on a flyer. The sign should also have the listing agent’s name, number, and listing office number. Agents are getting more creative with sign riders (“Honey, stop the car.” – one of the recent favorites.) but the best sign rider in my opinion is the home’s website address. If at all possible I purchase the domain name of the home’s address and build a website that has lots of photos, lots of information about the home, the MLS #, and the disclosures related to the property. More information is best when working in an internet connected world.

As for flyers they should be in color, on a good weight of paper, glossy, and have lots of photos. There are two sides to the paper and both should be utilized to share as much information about the home as possible. The box should not be empty if at all possible. If the home is occupied by the owner I give them extra flyers to put in the box if it becomes empty. But I also ask them to put out 10 at a time. Again, keeping track of the interest in the home by how many flyers are taken help determine whether or not the current marketing campaign is working.

Why have a lock box? Access, access, access. As a Realtor working with buyers, I must set up showings when it is convenient to the buyer’s schedule not the listing agent’s schedule. If I have to coordinate with the listing agent to come an unlock the door it better be the best house on the market. If the house is occupied, the agent should indicate in the MLS notes to “call first before showing”. I always call before showing a home that is occupied. I consider it good manners.

The lock box triggers a feeling of insecurity with some home owners. I certainly respect and understand this concern. The lock box holds the keys to your home. There are different kinds of lock boxes and which kind you choose makes a difference in the management of access to the property.

Agents who pay their dues, sit through an ethics training course on proper home access and lock box management, use a digitally coded key. This key when entered into the lock box, approves the agents entrance by verifying their status and password. The box then records that agents identifying number and the time in and out of the home.

I highly recommend the use of a digital lock box to my clients. It not only provides the extra security of being digital (verses the combination locks I see some agents use) but it also records every person who enters the home. This provides a tracking system for how many times the home is shown and is a foot print in case anything has been tampered with during the showing time.

I also recommend not displaying the lockbox on the front door knob. If at all possible the lock box should be somewhere that is accessible but not necessarily in plain sight. Some agents will disagree with me on this point but I always include in the section for notes to agents on the MLS where the lock box is located.

If there are specific times that you don’t want the home shown your agent can indicate that on the MLS but keep in mind, you are selling a house. Anyone that has gone to a business that wasn’t open when they expected it to be knows how frustrating that experience can be. If you are serious about selling your home, make it accessible. The more exposure it gets the greater chance it will be sold quickly.

If you have decided to sell your house talk to a professional Realtor about the details of the marketing plan before saying, “But don’t …”. Implementing a marketing plan that provides the best exposure, access, and security will be your best bet for moving on.