Real Estate Marketing- Good, Bad and Ugly


Let’s face it- not all marketing is good. A lot of marketing is horrible, some is simply bland, some is very good and some should be burned immediately. Good marketing people are not always easy to find, and once you do find them they are often very busy because of the aforementioned difficulty in finding them to begin with.

Selling real estate effectively requires marketing. It takes people looking at your ads so they see the homes. Whether it’s on the internet, magazines, newspapers, postcards, or wherever- sellers want buyers seeing their property and buyers want to find good homes. The right marketing can have a significant impact on the amount of traffic a property gets.

Sometimes good companies have bad marketing, which makes them less-good, but this could simply be the result of bad taste from management, or designers who are either getting revenge on their bosses or are just wasted on crack. Either way, as important as marketing is in the real estate industry, I would think that more companies would care about the look of their brand, which also speaks of the brand of their clients.

I have no doubt people who work for companies with ugly marketing will say that it’s not important what your ads look like, but all things being equal most people would rather have their home appear in high-quality ads and represented by a professional looking brand. And more people look at those ads so it does affect traffic.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be bad real estate marketing.

The whole pilgrim thing is way over-done

Constipation is not sexy

Drugs- I’m 90% sure

In bright daylight causes blindness

Even the kid thinks it’s lame

Bad on so many levels

Not prestigious at all

Will never sell a high-end home

Judge books by their covers

Pray for a new design

Animal pornography is just wrong

All dressed-up for the big photo shoot

When accountants do design work



$495,000 for a doghouse?


And now to recognize a couple of special companies and their design and marketing. Usually once a company becomes national, or large they get enough input to change bad marketing, or have enough money to hire good designers and consultants. But apparently, not all companies;

Ugliest National brokerage marketing goes to these two;

It’s almost as though they’re trying to be ugly


Sad thing about Exit’s marketing is, they actually think it looks good

And here is some real estate marketing that I think is very good and should be used as examples of good taste. There are many companies that have good marketing- here are just a few that come to mind. For more great internet design work in real estate go to Posh’d)

Obviously, if I didn’t think my own  logo and look was good I would change it

Sellsius guys  have a cool look

Re/Max -Always recognizable, often imitated, and the balloon gives them options

Prudential– Rounded top and the rock symbol differentiate, good font and color.  I think the blue is friendly and inviting.

There are obviously many companies that have great marketing, logos and looks that are not mentioned here, but you get the idea. Many Realtors create their own marketing with only the brokerage name attached (which is required by law), and that can be good or worse, depending on the agent.

Good marketing also includes the copy of the ads, and how a home is presented on the MLS, in the remarks and having accurate information. Homes that have no photos are shown many times less, and a virtual tour helps even more. The quality of the photos can make a big difference.

Agents that snap a few shots of hallways and cabinets with their phone-cams are doing a disservice to their clients, while agents who hire a professional photographer who knows camera angles and lighting techniques will be presenting a better product and ultimately have more people looking at their listings.

Here’s an example of two photo tours, which one showcases the home and compells you to see the home more?


This is a home I just put on the market. I hired a professional photographer to take the photos and create the tour.


This is the complete tour provided by an agent on a home that is about the same price as my listing, has a bit more square feet, same size lot, and an extra bathroom.

More buyers will look at my listing than the other simply because of the photos, which means the seller of the second home is missing out. It’s a good home that is not being represented well.

MLS and marketing copy makes a difference as well. Here’s an example;


These are the remarks on the MLS for a home listed by another agent. I brought a buyer who bought the home last month for $170,000 with the seller paying $6000 for the buyers closing costs, so the net price to my client was $164,000. Here’s the thing- the home actually wasn’t in that bad of condition and certainly not as bad as those remarks make it seem. It had granite counters, a huge yard, a new roof, a jetted tub and all new vinyl windows. But none of that was mentioned in the remarks. This home appraised for $188,000 and probably would have appraised for $200,000 if that was the selling price. We made a low offer because the sellers were obviously expecting a low offer. Their agent did a horrible job representing them and the MLS remarks brought people looking for an investment, like my buyers. Different marketing and they could have attracted people wanting to live in the home who would have paid $200,000.

My clients paid $164,000 (after the $6000 credit), put less than $10,000 into the home for paint, carpet, and some other upgrades, and we will sell it for $220,000, which is actually a good price for this home with the upgrades.

The best agents coordinate all the little things and have the expertise to bring in top dollar while branding the property well and making the whole transaction go smoothly. Getting a quick sale for top dollar with as little inconvenience as possible to the client. Good marketing takes more than a clever tag-line or some “unique” idea- it takes an understanding of the target audience and what appeals to the largest group of them as possible.

In my opinion simple is always better than complicated. If you can say it in twenty words don’t use fifty, use images to elicit a favorable response, not because you just like the image, and colors matter. Look at the overall brand and what it says about you, because that’s what marketing is really all about- delivering the message of what your brand is, what it is you have to offer, and what you’re all about.

I don’t know that a bad yard sign will keep a buyer from calling or not, but I think a nice one may make it easier for them. Beyond signs- I think the overall image of an ad makes a huge difference in the traffic it generates and the overall image of a campaign can make a significant impact on the business and clientele of a company.

Look at Alain Pinel in the bay area of California. Everyone in the area knows of their name and brand. They attract high-end clients and agents and their branding is a major reason for it. Obviously facility, personnel, training and leadership all play roles as well, but the branding impacts the pride people take in their company and the image they themselves take on when meeting with consumers.

As an agent I prefer to be with a company that I associate with being a high-quality organization. Whether or not the yard signs bring me business is not the point- I do more business because I’m proud of my service and my brand. Everything else being equal- I will do more business, and enjoy a better brand of business by having a high-quality image and having marketing that conveys that image. It gives me confidence and I believe it gives my clients confidence and pride as well.

People are the biggest contributing factor to success, but don’t underestimate the power of branding and the effectiveness of good marketing.


20 thoughts on “Real Estate Marketing- Good, Bad and Ugly

  1. The only thing left out of all this is that sometimes ugly works. Designers never want to admit it, but true marketers know it to be fact. I have no idea how effective any of these signs are (except for Bloodhound Realty, who is highly successful), but after 12 years in marketing I’ve discovered one thing … good designs and good sales can be (and often are) mutually exclusive.

  2. Great post. I still can’t figure out why people use the ugly yellow signs. Sure…they get your attention…but they are so repulsive they can sometimes be the bad first impression a seller probably wouldn’t want.

  3. Brandon,

    Good point- sometimes ugly is the whole idea, either to shock, be different, or be funny.

    And good salespeople can be successful in spite of ugly marketing, or lack of marketing all together, but in real estate the most important thing is the client and good marketing brings in more buyers, which is ultimately the goal.

    Greg’s signs at Bloodhound are different, which may be what he’s going for, but I wonder how much more effective they would be if the dog was switched out with photos of the home’s interior or a very sharp looking logo/look. They are obviously custom for that one house, so why not? No doubt people remember when they see the sign with the dog on it, but I wonder if they remember it as a good thing or not? The uglier the ad, the higher the threshold is between being annoying and having so much success that it creates buzz and people want to find out what it’s all about. If people see hundreds of these signs all over town and they can’t escape them, eventually they may be curious as to what it’s all about, in which case the sign itself becomes a great tool. But if they see a few here or there they may just think the signs are a nuisance to look at or out of place.

    Many real estate people have a common flaw, which is they want to sell themselves in all their ads, even when they should be selling homes. And many think they are much better marketers than they really are. Some think they are great home stagers, marketers, copy-writers, photographers, salespeople, managers, etc. Ego is a driving factor and when you have title, mortgage, and home warranty people all telling you how great you are everyday (because they want your business) sometimes agents begin to believe it and think that greatness will translate into other areas.

    Branding ads of course will be all about the agent or brokerage, but ads for homes are too often branding ads with a small house ad, almost rudely taking space. This is a disconnect from what buyers want to look at. Buyers want to see the homes and if they are interested they want to be able to find the contact info of the agent, not the other way around.

  4. Pingback: Blog Real Estate Marketing- Good, Bad and Ugly « - Hot Chicago Property -

  5. Real estate blogs are powerful marketing and selling forces because they allow a company or real estate investor to reach new audiences, build a loyal group of interested clients, have interactive communications with clients, and expand your marketing database. Thus, it is imperative that anyone working in real estate have either a website and/or a blog. Internet Real Estate is the wave of the future and it is time for everyone to get onboard.

  6. As a small independent broker, I wonder how my logo and marketing stacks up against these listed here? I welcome reviews and suggestions for improvements. Visit my site at and let me know what you think about Maxsell Real Estate.

    Great post!

  7. Greg, thanks for the Posh’d mention!

    Mikeelliott – ekday isn’t pig latin, lol. It’s actually an acronym for Every Kid Deserves A Yard. We realize it’s an odd name, but so is Google (we’re clearly not in the same league). We just wanted something different – something people might not get, but would be able to recognize if they saw it again. I guess Fred (commenter from above) said it best when he told me on the phone, “hmmm…that’s the worst name I’ve ever heard. It’s terrible. Good luck with that.” 🙂 So far, so good.

  8. The truth is, Ugly Yellow Signs don’t leave a bad impression if used properly. They are not to be used as a branding device but more as a lead generating device. The recent net banter about ugly yellow signs are simply comming from the wrong mindset. Yes, they do work and work well. Not just because they get attention but having the right system in place to take full advatage of their benefit. Seller want there home sold period, and if real estate agents understand the proper use of ugly yellow signs there are very few sellers if any that would reject the idea.

  9. Pingback: national real estate opinion column » Blog Archive

  10. These are great points. I really don’t know what some people are thinking. When I drive around in my area, I see huge, hideous signs with large photos of the agent (a glamor shot from 1992) and these photos are always of people who make me wonder why they even wanted to put their photo on the sign in the first place. By the time I’ve passed the sign, even as a Realtor myself, I have no idea what information was on the sign.

  11. I have a new video on Youtube called…

    “7 Myths About Ugly Yellow Signs Finally
    Shattered Once And For All.”

    In this video I diffuse some of the misconceptions, confusions
    and just plain non-sense about using UYS in your business.

    Click Here

  12. Great points. I don’t get where the commenter named “odo” gets off saying that UYS is an effective tool for lead generation. It works for Weichert (for some reason), but other people who use UYS are going to get grouped in the brain of the consumer as working for Weichert. This is great, of course, if you are the only Weichert broker around. If there is more than one in your area, this could confuse the consumer altogether, and you the lead to a competitor.

  13. Johnathan,

    I am odo and here is where I get off saying UYS are an effective lead generation tool…

    You clearly have no real understanding of how to use Ugly Yellow signs. I have tested well over 5,000 UYS’s and counting and they are and have been an incredible lead generation source. How many have you tested? How many different strategies have you tested with them?

    I have a dozen different strategies I developed and use that have not even been reveled to anyone other than my family and inner circle of friends and clients.

    Again over 5000 signs and never once did I have a prospect think I was working with Weichert. Not once.

    What basis do you have to make such irresponsible statements? You make many presuppositions in your comments non of which can be substantiated.

    When you start a conversation with “where does ____ get off by saying” it sets the things off with a very condescending tone clearly indicating you do not want to have an intelligent conversation about it. Fine, but at least know what your talking about before joiniung the conversation.

  14. Love it. Truly. Especially since I’m an EXIT Realtor and tend to agree with you… If you look at my website you’ll see it looks nothing like EXIT’s branding… accident, I think not.

  15. The best signs to use are from Csi signs. Price and quality are their main concern. They are great quality and you do not have to worry about them blowing over from heavy winds. CSi signs can make you a customer real estate sign that will get the attention of buyers immediately. Csi signs have the best real estate signs in Indiana.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s