The Unconditional Blog

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The first week is crucial in selling your home

Posted on: September 20th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Online marketing, Website searching

There are enumerable phrases such as “the early bird catches the worm” or “you only get one bite at the cherry” or “first in – best dressed” – so it is with real estate, where based on research a new phrase can be adopted:

“Missed the first week and you may have missed the market”

A simple piece of analysis has been undertaken as shown in the chart below. Aggregating the daily viewings data of a sample of 1,079 properties listed on the website over the past 3 months from around the country shows that the most active period is the first week. Fully a quarter of the total of the first 2 months viewings takes place in those first 7 days.

Visits to listing by days on the market Sep 2010

The reason for this is not difficult to appreciate, active buyers are already subscribed to receive email alerts of new listings, has over 100,000 customers with email alerts set up. In addition for those eager to watch the local marketplace saved searches always show the latest listings as the default on – no need to filter by latest, we do it for the customer.

This buyer behaviour is critically important for agents and vendors to understand fully as it needs to drive a set of key actions:

  1. Getting all the photos ready and uploaded before a property is listed – you can never have too many photos, there is no restriction on on the number of photos, we also host videos which can be a great way to view listings
  2. Ensuring the listing is well presented in an emotionally appealing description that provides loads of facts about the property and the local area
  3. A clear indication as to the price expectation of the property – buyers are eager to understand if the property is affordable within their budget
  4. The #1 photo which is the one included in email alerts is the best – the best at selling the property’s best features. Often this is the view of the front of the property, professionally photographed from the road

Get these four essentials right and you are ensuring that your property has the greatest chance of grabbing that viewing audience. Get it wrong or decide to change some details after a week and you could already have missed the boat. This is especially true when it comes to price. A reduction in price of a property posted in the 2nd or 3rd week to reflect a weaker market is less impactful than getting the price right at the outset before someone rejects the property in their mind.

I am grateful for the US real estate company Redfin who first wrote about this analysis last month in an article titled you only get one chance to make a first impression, the story was then picked up by the Wall Street Journal .

Article Discussion

  1. J.C. says:

    It is not clear to me that the number of views is correlated with or caused in any way by the asking price at initial listing. However, it does make sense that the seller has the best opportunity to attract interest during the first week that the house is listed online.

    Why don’t sellers simply withdraw and re-list their properties periodically?

  2. Ross Brader says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this analysis Alistair.

    Often the blame can be placed on the owner who is not prepared to accept the written appraisal figure, provided by the salesperson and insists on listing for sale at a higher level. On the other hand the salesperson may have over pitched the house to obtain the listing as this still appears to be happening despite the legal requirement to provide an appraisal in writing.

    There is still a discussion happening as to whether or not the Real Estate Agents Act requires an exact price when appraising a home or whether a range will suffice. I guess we will never know until a test case is taken up by the REAA.

  3. Alistair Helm says:


    There are I think two questions here in your comment.

    Is the level of viewing effected by the price at initial listing – simple answer ism there is no way of knowing for sure and that was not really the conclusion. It is very clear to us from feedback that buyers “tend” to ignore properties that do not feature a price. The other point is that adjusting the price later misses the target audience who may have “excluded” the property in the first review.

    As to the ability to re-list. That facility is certainly available, but sadly is little used by agents who all to often think of the web as a “post just once medium”. Most listings come to us via data upload systems which means updates and refresh needs to happen in company systems rather than on our site.

    Appreciate the question – great to get feedback.

  4. Ross Brader says:

    A quote in this article says:

    “At the moment, unless you have a realistic price on your property you are not going to sell it.”

    Any idea what percentage of homes listed on have an actual asking price vs By Negotiation or Auction?

  5. This is great analysis, thanks for sharing.

    Ross, I think it’s ridiculous to hope for any ruling to direct us to provide a fixed price appraisal. Why would you want that?

  6. J.C. says:

    Interesting about the re-listing process Alistair. In my opinion, the agents should be doing this as a minimum. If their systems can’t deal with it, fix the systems.

  7. JohnB says:

    Interesting compared to rental listings. Anecdotally, we believe the same is happening with rental vacancies when we list on Trademe, ie the best photo, the right price and relist if things go wrong.
    We can’t list on your site so your rental listings are going to be a minor part of the rental market.

  8. Alistair Helm says:


    We have over 6,400 rental listings on the site – and you would be most welcome to list your rental properties on the site, just $64 + GST per listing. Call our team anytime (during the business day) on 0800 732 536

  9. They also say “It’s best to put your best foot forward”. Agents need to make sure their clients are as fully prepaired as they are. The more information on a property the better.
    Videos are the the future of real estate. We are offering agents free accounts to upload their property videos on a fully branded page to them.

  10. Isn’t re-listing manipulating the market? Don’t consumers deserve a picture of the true market? As a keen buyer I don’t want over-priced old listings appearing in my eagerly anticipated “just listed” email. Thoughts?

  11. Alistair Helm says:


    A good discussion point. I think the point here is the description – a property that has been on the market for say 4 weeks should be able to be “refreshed” with appropriate amendments to maybe the price or the description or the images.

    This refreshed listing should then be able to be sent out in the “email alerts” to highlight to interested buyers that this property is worth considering because some aspect of it has been amended. It would only be misleading if the “listed date’ was changed and updated which I don’t think would be appropriate.

  12. Ross says:

    A number of properties, especially in say Wellington and Auckland, are sold by auction or tender. Is there any research to show that buyers are reluctant to view such properties online?

    As for online hits, I don’t know what evidence there is to show that viewings online translate to actual inspections.

  13. Alistair Helm says:


    Couple of interesting comments. I do not have to hand any factual data concerning the relative viewings of listings by pricing type which might show to what extent properties marketed with a price as opposed to no price (auction, tender etc) perform better in relation to online viewing numbers – would make for a good bit of analysis.

    In the overall context you are right there is little likelihood that movements in traffic to real estate websites will result in property sales. The fact is the number of people looking online at any one time far exceeds the number of sales – kiwi’s love viewing other people’s properties.

  14. […] Zealand market leader has a similar story to tell. Its statistics show that a quarter of listing views during a property’s first two months online take place […]

  15. Greg Vincent says:

    Alistair I agree. The initial marketing period of a listing online is absolutely critical.

    Many agents underestimate the traffic driven to their listings via the major portals email alerts. REA over here has the largest real estate database in the country & email alerts from the major portals are some of the most targeted, permission based components of a real estate marketing campaign that a real estate agent can use.

    However, many agents don’t understand the importance of the email alerts and I see far too many agents in too much of a hurry to get the listing uploaded rather than getting it right & making the right first impression to attract potential buyers.

    I wrote this article earlier on in the year about ‘You Lost Me At Hello!” and thought your readers might also find it helpful.

    PS: I also saw this article the other day about Aussie’s thirst for viewing property. Going by your comments about “Kiwis love of viewing properties”, I dare say the trend would probably be similar in NZ.

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