THOROUGHLY MODERN MILETIC: WINDSOR REAL ESTATE AGENT SASHA MILETIC MODERNIZES HOME SALES FOR THE INTERNET AGE
Windsor Real Estate Agent Sasha Miletic Gets Interviewed By Lauren Van Mullem
It’s not hard to find Sasha Miletic. He’s on Twitter; he’s on Facebook; he’s on the Windsor-Detroit Internet Radio, and not only does he have a website – he has five blogs, each specializing in a different area of buying and selling homes. Trying to decide whether to buy a new home or invest in a fixer-upper? Miletic has the answer for you in his Buyers Blog. Want to learn easy and inexpensive ways to add curb appeal to your home? There’s a blog post for that as well. Thinking of making DIY home repairs before putting your home on the market? You’d better read his post first. Yes, Sasha Miletic is a Realtor for the age of the internet, and when you’re buying or selling a home in a digital economy, that is exactly the kind of realtor you need.
While HGTV shows stress home staging and curb appeal as the best ways sellers can swiftly turn their properties to profit, Miletic makes a compelling case that it’s equally, if not more, important for sellers to concern themselves with exposure. Today, he says, there’s no better way to gain exposure than by viral marketing through online media outlets. In the past decade, not only have housing prices changed – but the very nature of how we buy and sell has altered. “If I’m a home seller 10 to 15 years ago, what would my agent do to put more money in my pocket then, versus what my agent would do today? There has been a huge change in paradigm,” says Miletic, creator of The Sasha Miletic Home Selling System. Specializing in Windsor Ontario, Canada housing market, a market currently experiencing a slight rise in home prices, Miletic has developed a theory around real estate sales that gives sellers “the most bang for your buck.” He’s thrifty, but most importantly, he’s internet savvy – a quality rarely found in real estate. “In the last two or three years, there’s been a shift in where people hang out. Local advertising, local papers, local magazines get very little reach. But, when you post houses on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked-In, Pinterest, Zoocasa, Craig’s List and Kijiji, you’ll quickly realize that’s where everyone is hanging out. And when you add the viral nature that these sites offer, you’ll quickly witness marketing and exposure on steroids. The leads you get off of these sites are incredibly valuable,” he says. Recent surveys have shown that 92 percent of all homebuyers start their searches online, underlining Miletic’s point that “You have to market where people are looking.” And, people are looking almost exclusively on the internet.
Miletic says his system of selling houses comes down to the laws of supply and demand – which also take on a new spin when looked at in the context of online marketing. “If 80 people know about your house, you’ll get a different set of results rather than if 2000 people know about your house. It’s a new level of demand,” he says, which may lead to multiple offers. According to Miletic, real estate prices are based on supply and demand – and the demand is measured by the amount of “eye-ball” traffic your home is exposed to, which leads to the number of qualified people who walk through your living room.
Building demand for a home used to primarily involve applying a fresh coat of paint, laying down a bright new roll of sod in the front yard, and maybe installing some new countertops in the kitchen. The seller, or real estate agent, would then advertise the property in real estate magazines and local newspapers. Today, although curb appeal is still important, Search Engine Optimization and creating qualified web traffic to your home is the new must-do for selling houses. “If you don’t use technology, you can’t expose your house to the greatest number of people. Use SEO, post on the sites that have the most traffic, and look for real estate agents with a strong online presence,” he says. Not only can a web-savvy real estate agent expose a house to more potential buyers, Miletic can also track the response to each of his online efforts. As any SEO company will tell you, tracking response in your target audience is vital to creating a successful marketing strategy – but the concept online retailers know well is still brand new to most of the real estate industry.
As many realtors know, statistics show that the less time it takes to sell your house, the more cash homeowners end up with in their pockets. This is what Miletic calls the “Fallacy of Time.” Time is not on the sellers’ side. If a house takes longer than 90 days to sell, statistically, the house will sell for less than it’s actually worth. The instantaneous nature of the internet means that marketing online works to the seller’s advantage. Whereas the average agent sells houses in a time span ranging from 70 and 90 days in his local market, Miletic’s system – which relies heavily on online marketing techniques – sees that average drop substantially, assuming the house is not overpriced. In Miletic’s home city of Windsor, Ontario, that is of key importance. “If you want to sell your house fast and for top dollar, you have to do research before that sale sign goes out on the lawn,” says Miletic. He advises sellers to type in keywords, like the name of your city and “property,” or “real estate,” and see which agents pop up on the front page of their search engine results. “Those are the agents who are savvy enough to market your home online, which is where all the buyers are,” he says.
Miletic spent years selling homes the old-fashioned way, working long days to find homes for his buyers and sell houses for his property owners. “Back years ago, we used to do a presentation of 20 things we do to sell a house. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and you usually go into a presentation to tell them why you’re better than the next guy, but it’s mostly fluff. The only thing that matters is traffic,” he says. Five years ago, he realized that even though he was working as hard as humanly possible to increase his reach and sell his clients’ homes, doing everything himself, his clients were suffering for his good intentions. So he changed the way he did business, hiring a team of professionals to enhance his ability to communicate with his clients individually while selling more houses. But most importantly, he adopted cutting edge technology to improve the speed, efficiency and innovative capabilities of his services. His business is still real estate, but his specialty is SEO and online marketing. Essentially, Miletic has become an expert in driving qualified traffic to his home selling clients.
“Where is the traffic coming from? What is the response and feedback? What’s the market doing and what can we do next moving forward? Those questions, and automated follow-ups to keep the homeowner or buyer informed, are vitally important. These need to be monitored continuously. Of course, you have to know about the forms. what clauses to use in an agreement, and how to negotiate of course, but besides generating and monitoring qualified buyer traffic, I don’t know what else is as important,” says Miletic. He says Social Media has had the largest impact on the market in the last few years. “The game changed because of social media. It’s viral. You can expand your reach exponentially there. We send you a link to where your house is advertised so you can share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter accounts and we also send you an email you can forward to your sphere of influence, so that they can share it with their social networks as well. These homes get shared 25 to 50 times which can expose that home to tens of thousands of additional people within a week, with multiple offers,” he says.
However, while Miletic can lead a parade of eyes and feet through your home – virtually and physically – the home seller still has the power to make or break the sale. This is where home improvements, staging and curb appeal come into play. “It’s all emotion. In 10 minutes, someone can come into your house and cut you a check for $250,000,” says Miletic. But, that only happens when your home has appeal. While you may have spent the last 20 years filling your home with pieces that express you – complete with cat figurines, lace doilies and avocado green carpet – home buyers want to see themselves in your house, which they can’t do unless you provide them with a clean slate. Miletic recommends a simple approach to making your home loveable: “Don’t be stingy on your water bill – water your lawn and trim it. Paint your front door. Rent a storage unit and clear out 80 percent of your house. De-clutter. Repaint in warm, neutral earth tone colors. It doesn’t take much money to do basic things like this – and don’t worry about changing your kitchen or your bathroom.” Ultimately, he says, it’s the homeowner’s job to sell the house: “20 years ago it was my job to sell the house. Now my job is to drive traffic to your house and train you how to prepare and stage your home. You have to have your home show-ready – always. If you’ve done your job, and I drive traffic to the house, and we price it right, you’ll do well because 90 percent of sellers out there aren’t doing what you’re doing.”
Miletic provides his clients how-to videos for home staging and a checklist to complete before their houses go on the market. “It all boils down to education,” he says. The education continues throughout the selling process. While real estate statisticians estimate that 72 percent of home sellers are dissatisfied with their agents because of lack of feedback, Miletic and his team make a point to contact their sellers regularly to give them progress reports and suggestions. “As a home seller, you need to be armed with information so you can make an educated decision about your house,” says Miletic. He says these regular updates should be common practice, but they aren’t – unless you’re a bank. “Bank foreclosures sell on average for more money and in less time than normal averages – and banks require their agents to send them regular updates and information on the market. Everyone should require that information! How are your stats comparing right now with houses that have sold? What is the feedback from people who have been in your house? Then we look at what the market has done in the last 30 days. What are the new listings in your area and how many sold – at what prices? This is the information homeowners need when they’re selling their houses, because when you have that knowledge, you can make adjustments and move forward,” he says.
On his website, SashaMiletic.com, Miletic provides pages upon pages of free information to help educate consumers and sellers. His “Home Buying Toolkit” includes tips like “How to get a free home inspection” and “How to select the right agent,” as well as a 13-page e-book on how to buy your first home. He also has e-mail video tutorials and, of course, the blogs. It’s a Do-it-yourselfer’s paradise, but Miletic also cautions, “look at the For Sale by Owner stats,” before deciding to fly solo. “At the end of the day, you don’t net as much if you sell your home yourself. Homeowners assume there’s no difference between agents, when nothing could be further from the truth. Find the agent that uses the internet, who markets online to expose your home to the greatest number of people, and knows how to expose your home to the right people – the ones ready to buy,” says Miletic.
Before the internet changed the landscape of the real estate business, Miletic says Realtors were almost interchangeable since they all advertised in the same newspapers and magazines: “The number of eyeballs exposed was virtually the same between all the agents. Now that’s not the case.” Now, while buyers are increasingly turning to online resources to find houses, only a few realtors are taking advantage of that market, and those who do reap the benefits both for themselves and their clients. Ultimately, Miletic says, “My clients’ homes sell for more money in less time and without any stress.”