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Old 04.05.2010, 12:18
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Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

I am exploring my options re: selling our house; in speaking to two agents I was surprised with the marketing strategies recommended. Now, I have bought and sold several properties in other countries, but having lived here 10+ years I am well aware that my 'American' approach to marketing is not what the Swiss would typically do. However, the agents' ideas seemed so very wrong to me that I'd like your thoughts and advice.

(I'm still debating whether selling via an agent is worthwhile, or not.)

First, my house is a typical small family home with a nice garden. It's a normal house, certainly not a luxury villa. I would expect my target market to be families with children or pets.

I was surprised that both agents stressed their firms' discretion in marketing - a point which seems downright silly to me. Heck, the house is for sale - why would one want to hide that fact? I could understand the discrete approach if one were selling a celebrity's vacation hide-away, but that's not what I'm doing.

Am I missing something fundamental to the way a Swiss buyer would think? Are buyers more likely to be interested in something 'secret'? I honestly do not understand this approach.

(I also worry about a conflict of interests arising with an agent who claims to already have a list of potential buyers. Who is the agent really representing?)

Secondly, after agreeing to consider the potential value of advertising , both agents recommended listing the house price as 'auf Anfrage'. Again, this seems counterproductive to me. I know in my own rather extensive house hunting, I ignored any home where the price was not listed. I had a budget - why waste my time investigating something that might be out of my range? Besides, I have always assumed that 'auf Anfrage' is code for insanely overpriced.

This approach seems even more wrong-headed in my case, as I will price the house sensibly to sell quickly - the price should be a very attractive feature. Why not advertise that? But again, am I missing something fundamental to the way a typical home buyer here in Switzerland would think?

I'd be grateful for your advice and experiences as sellers - and also for your thoughts from a buyer's perspective.
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Old 04.05.2010, 12:26
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

I had bad experiences with real estate agencies in Switzerland. My first thought when I read your post, is that the agency wants to have a full control on the interaction with potential buyers, they try to avoid interactions between the owner and buyers.

In my case, after several weeks of negociations we came to an agreement. We came to sign the deal and few minutes before signing they suddenly announced us that they received a fax with a counter offer which is 20kchf higher than ours and that we had 15min to decided.... It was hard to convince my wife to give up because it was obviously a trick. We refused the deal...and surprisingly a few months later we saw again the advertisement of the very same house on their web site.
So my advice, try to sell directly to buyers through online sites like homegate etc...
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Old 04.05.2010, 12:29
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

From a buyer perspective....I have been looking for some time and as you say the situation here is weird.

Sometimes on Homegate there is one photo of the garden none of the house.
Auf anfrage - waste of time dont bother with this
Want to view/visit quickly only to be told a week on Tuesday at 12.10.
Visit along with a dozen others - horrible

If you want to market it ie. sell it then do just that. Best of luck.
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Old 04.05.2010, 12:47
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

We bought a house 2years ago through the man that owned it. He put it on the internet on the Thursday and had open day on the Saturday from 10-5.
On Saturday night my Hubby phoned him, he already had 3 offers but said he would get in touch if the others didnt come through.Monday morning 7.45 he phoned and said the others hadnt been in touch it was available if we wanted it( yes,yes and again yes) Monday afternoon had the keys in my hand (reasonabe preis, nice house good place) Anything else in this area (through agents) is usually on the market months or years because the agents try to get too much profit.
Afriend of ours sold his house last year on Homegate, it sold in a week(I think it cost him about 20fr)
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:01
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

Seems odd to me.

Agree with others here, that having a price on the page is useful as you can discount stuff quickly.

For non-native speakers, have to go get details for something that you may or may not be interested in (if the price is wrong) is a real bind and turn-off.

If you are not in a rush, why not try to sell yourself? If it works, hey presto, if it fails, then go to an agent.

"Gazumping" as it is called in the UK (where someone outbids you at the 11th hr) appears to be easy to do here - whether real or not - as indicated MrVertigo.
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:07
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

Why not try and advertise yourself. I did once on immopool.ch or homegate etc. it is not that expensive and worth seeing what is out there for yourself?. Agents take a % cut so why not go for it yourself. The other thing for your marketing strategy why limit to aiming for families? to be honest I would love a house with garden etc etc but am single. Dont aim for a target market they will find you. Definitely put up different pics and let people judge for themselves. I think for mine when I am ready I am going to do the advertising and legwork myself.

Good luck
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:08
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

I can see why a Swiss seller would be attracted to discretion, but for Swiss cultural reasons. As you instinctively realize, discretion works more for the benefit of the agent than yourself. They practically have exclusivity in selling the property. Perhaps you ought to shop around for other agents so you get a better idea of how it works. Also, I'd be interested in your findings as I will eventually be selling one myself in the near future.
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:13
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

The agent selling mine created a nice brochure and laughed at my suggested price before upping it 300k.

The house sold in two weeks for 500k more than my "head" price.

www.cr-immobilien.ch - Claudia is down in your neck of the woods and has no problems with dogs She'll also do the showing, potentially get the price up and charge you 2% of the sale price. I actually bought my place off-plan through her and contacted her 5 years later to sell
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:16
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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Why not try and advertise yourself. I did once on immopool.ch or homegate etc. it is not that expensive and worth seeing what is out there for yourself?. Agents take a % cut so why not go for it yourself. The other thing for your marketing strategy why limit to aiming for families? to be honest I would love a house with garden etc etc but am single. Dont aim for a target market they will find you. Definitely put up different pics and let people judge for themselves. I think for mine when I am ready I am going to do the advertising and legwork myself.

I would be very careful about selling your own house if you have no experience in it. Without understanding the local laws, you might find yourself liable for all kinds of expenses after the sale. Safer to get an agent, especially if you are a foreigner.
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:22
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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I would be very careful about selling your own house if you have no experience in it. Without understanding the local laws, you might find yourself liable for all kinds of expenses after the sale. Safer to get an agent, especially if you are a foreigner.
you have to go through a notary in any case to make the deal official and register it. It's the notary's duty to make everything clear to all parties.
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Old 04.05.2010, 13:45
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

We are having a similar thing with 2 houses that my father in law built in Tessin. He has an agent and they had 2 open days recently there and NOBODY turned up. I do internet marketing so looked online after the agency said that they had it posted online and found that there was nothing..... Not so good.....

Now we are thinking of going it alone because i recently posted 3 ads (one of Facebook) and we have had over 400 clicks on the ads together and 4 enquiries already, although 2 of them were agents themselves.

If you go on Google and type in Gratis Immobilien Inserate you can see so many sites which allow you to post your ads for property. Homegate.ch is also really good (as mentioned in one of the last posts) and people here in CH seem to trust the site as i can see it gets MEGA amounts of clicks.

I´ll let you know how it goes with the houses. Feel free to PM me and i can show you the ads we have done so far.
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Old 04.05.2010, 15:20
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

I agree, I don't waste my time if the price isn't listed... After inquiry, I have had several agents come back to me with "see the house and make an offer". Mmmm.... sounds like a time waster to me.

I am also confused why so many of the homes have no photos, or only a photo of the garden table or extreme closeup of the bathroom sink, or don't list any of the relevant details of the house (size, etc.).. so strange.

I much prefer dealing with the owner directly.
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:27
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

Mentioned this before here:

we sold our small house in Thalwil (ZH) 18 months ago via homegate.ch. Cost was CHF135.00. The ad appeared at 12:30 on a Monday and the phone started ringing 10 minutes later. 3 days later we had a buyer signed up.

I produced a PDF 2 page 'brochure' to download in German and English. Plus the maximum number of images on homegate - about 10 I think. Gave full details with pictures without clutter - some of the Homegate images are laughable with dirty washing on the floor etc.

The hardest part is the price - which was clearly stated. I followed the market closely for a number of years and was confident of hitting a price that would sell, but would also satisfy us...
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:40
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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you have to go through a notary in any case to make the deal official and register it. It's the notary's duty to make everything clear to all parties.
A notary does not look after your interest, so can care less of negotiated details.


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Mentioned this before here:

we sold our small house in Thalwil (ZH) 18 months ago via homegate.ch. Cost was CHF135.00. The ad appeared at 12:30 on a Monday and the phone started ringing 10 minutes later. 3 days later we had a buyer signed up.

I produced a PDF 2 page 'brochure' to download in German and English. Plus the maximum number of images on homegate - about 10 I think. Gave full details with pictures without clutter - some of the Homegate images are laughable with dirty washing on the floor etc.

The hardest part is the price - which was clearly stated. I followed the market closely for a number of years and was confident of hitting a price that would sell, but would also satisfy us...

Did you use a selling agent, or did you sell it on your own? What depth of knowledge on local laws does it require to sell it on your own?
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:43
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

Our experince of the agents we had to deal with when we bought our house is that they were 'Eagles & Vultures'.
-they were the obstacle between willing sellers and willing buyers.
- we made conditions - we offer x if taken off market by y etc - the offer was taken and the conditions ignored - they increased the ante to get a counter offer, and continued all the time until we got to the notary, even after agreeing the sale. Even other EF'ers went to see the house.
- they told others what we had offerred, and us what others had offerred inlcuding comments like but I dont think they can afford it.
-they came with the "we've just had another similar offer. Who wants to increase it by X gets the house..." We refused to play.
-the owners were contractually forbidden to talk to anyone about the sale (including us)
-they wanted us to pay tens of thouands of CHF's (their fee) direct to the agent as soon as we made the offer. This is before any terms were made, and is used partly as a bargaining lever - if you drop out because of unfavourable contact terms made later you dont get back all your 70k. We refused but it took a lot of arguing. It is also not a legal contract and cant be by law... the only legal house purchase contract is the one made at the notary. So you would just have to trust this small co (operating as a franchise) of a big name with your cash, and hope.
-We were told all sorts of rubbish by the agent including what is included i the sale - only for them to deny it later.
-they obviously knew nothing abot the house and couldnt answer our questions / just gave any answer.

A horrible experience. I would sell/buy direct if at all possible.
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:49
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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A notary does not look after your interest, so can care less of negotiated details.

Did you use a selling agent, or did you sell it on your own? What depth of knowledge on local laws does it require to sell it on your own?
Did you use the services of a notary for real estate transaction?
I did, and I know how it works. I think you don't know how it works but still can give an opinion on the matter.

Everyone seem to agree that the best way is to make direct sales through online sites and avoid real estate agencies.
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:55
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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Did you use the services of a notary for real estate transaction?
I did, and I know how it works. I think you don't know how it works but still can give an opinion on the matter.

Everyone seem to agree that the best way is to make direct sales through online sites and avoid real estate agencies.

I sure have. There is no way of buying or selling a house without a notary. As for the role of a notary, it is simply to ensure that all the paperwork is in order. They do not care who is paying for what.
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Old 04.05.2010, 17:56
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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I sure have. There is no way of buying or selling a house without a notary. As for the role of a notary, it is simply to ensure that all the paperwork is in order. They do not care who is paying for what.
they care especially if 2nd pillar fund is involved in the transaction....!
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Old 04.05.2010, 18:00
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

I agree with Phos, and yes, have used a Notary. They do not look after your interests more than making sure you are who you are, are not a mental case, understand what you are doing and understand what you really have agreed to.
They are not supposed to be there to say - "oh are you sure about that - seems a bit dear/old/overpriced etc etc". or "dont you want him to check the boiler before he sells" etc. in the same way they are not there for the seller either.
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Old 04.05.2010, 18:01
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Re: Marketing Strategies When Selling Property

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I agree with Phos, and yes, have used a Notary. They do not look after your interests more than making sure you are who you are, are not a mental case, understand what you are doing and understand what you really have agreed to.
They are not supposed to be there to say - "oh are you sure about that - seems a bit dear/old/overpriced etc etc". or "dont you want him to check the boiler before he sells" etc. in the same way they are not there for the seller either.
OK. I was then very lucky with my notary.
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