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The True Cost of Free Advertising

It’s so tempting isn’t it? The idea that a real estate agency will cover the cost of your advertising and marketing expenses sounds great. However, there are a few key things to carefully consider before you jump with this ‘offer’.

Firstly, do you get a choice of where they’ll place the ‘free’ ad, its size, position or how frequently it runs? In most cases, the answer is ‘no’. Want your ad to appear elsewhere, with more lines, a photo or two, in another position or another publication? No can do. Well, not for ‘free’ anyway. You’ll have to pay for that. An agency with such limiting parameters on advertising because ‘they’ pay for it, isn’t really helping you to sell your highly unique property is it? Is it likely to give your property maximum exposure to the market? Of course it won’t.

Question – who’s taking the photos of your property when the advertising is ‘free’? And who writes the copy for the ads? Will they be providing 360° Virtual Tour Photography or video and a floor plan, which can have the effect of quadrupling the number of buyers clicking to view your property on the internet? What about the description for the internet ad?

Answer – the reality is that in most agencies, it’s usually left up to the receptionist, maybe the sales assistant or the salesperson themselves to photograph and write the ad copy. Here you are undertaking the biggest transaction in your life, yet sadly that’s the level of commitment to ‘marketing’ you get from far too many agencies in Australia. Oh, and it also means no 360° Virtual Tour Photography and no floor plan. Do you really think your property that you have painstakingly built, renovated, maintained or decorated beautifully will be represented to buyers in its absolute very best light this way? No, of course not. And you won’t get the quantity and quality of buyers from your internet ad either. If advertising, photography, creative writing, brochures and websites are ‘free’, how can they ever hope to realistically do your property justice in order to sell your home?

A more serious and sinister effect of ‘free’ advertising is the vested interest the agency will have in the sale of your property. Let me explain. An agency investing their own money to sell a client’s property will be motivated to recover its costs. The larger the ‘free’ ad campaign is, the greater is the agent’s motivation to get the property sold – but only so that they can recoup their investment. As long as they get the property sold (after all, who cares what the price is!), the agent’s investment is repaid. Can you now see how their advice to the seller to accept an offer – almost any offer – may well be tainted by their vested interest?

Look at a real estate agency from a helicopter’s perspective. Looking down upon it, you see buyers on one hand, who are searching for the perfect property. On the other hand there are sellers, all trying to capture the attention of the buyers. In the middle is the real estate agent. The agent is the go-between. Unlike a retailer, the agent doesn’t have his own inventory to sell. You are paying your agent for services, which include imparting marketing advice and sound knowledge gained from experience ‘in the trenches’; for countless hours working tirelessly on your behalf; meeting prospects in person; on the phone and via e-mail; showing them through your property; negotiating on your behalf; ensuring paperwork is complete, accurate and up-to-date; providing comprehensive verbal and written activity reports; promoting your property aggressively and much, much more.

Real estate agents are firmly in the service industry. As you can see, today’s professional real estate agent isn’t a media outlet or a production company.

They are specialists in coordinating the marketing and selling of real estate. They offer advice on how to promote your home, but cannot be expected to pay for the advertising. In addition to the services rendered, the agent risks his/her time and energy for a success fee otherwise known as commission.

Let’s put it another way… imagine Holden, Ford, BMW or Jaguar in the process of choosing an advertising agency. They need advice on how to market their fleet of cars and indeed want a brilliant campaign created. One of the agencies tells them that they’ll only be too happy to get their business by offering to pay for their entire advertising campaign including media placement! Is this a warning sign of a desperate agency, starving for work? Well, you’d be right to question it wouldn’t you? The same philosophy can be applied when selecting an agency to sell your property through.


Would you like to achieve the very highest price for your property?

Do you want several buyers competing against each other to buy, or just one offer?

Which is more important – saving yourself a few thousand dollars, or achieving a high price with the potential of selling for many thousands of dollars more?

Do you want your agent to be concerned about recovering their advertising money

– or about getting you the highest price?

Would you be prepared to invest, say $1000 now to gain, say $5000 (or more) in two months’ time?

Do you really think that a real estate agency can honestly afford to give your property the exposure IT DESERVES at their expense?

The Key:

Pay for an agent and agency based on their level of service, advice and commitment to getting you maximum results, and not on them effectively ‘buying’ your business by offering to place your ads at supposedly ‘no charge’. The level of service you receive is far too important to your future.