8 tips on selling your property in Central America when there is no MLS

Selling a property you own in Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua or Panama can be painfully slow and frustrating as there is no Multiple Listings Service (MLS) in these countries.  Before you get started, it makes sense to spend the time to research how real estate agents are motivated, the degree of broker collaboration in your area, and the best marketing strategies tailored to your property type.  Armed with this information you’ll be well placed to develop a selling strategy that works.

Here are 8 tips to get your started on selling your overseas property:

1)   List your property with all the real estate agencies in your region – Yes we used the plural.  In countries where there is no MLS you don’t get true listing agents who focus exclusively on marketing your property.   Open listings are the norm and broker collaboration  is weak so it does not make sense to limit your-self to the marketing strength of just one agency.   You’ll also need to regularly follow-up on your listing to make sure it stays front-of-mind.

2)   Get the price right – In the US this is simple as there are central databases (such as a MLS) that record transactions and sales prices.   This is not the case in Central American countries, so you’ll have to rely on asking prices.  Build a spreadsheet with asking prices of comparable properties and use this data to drive your pricing strategy.

3)   Write a great listing description – The trick is to focus on the benefits.  Your buyers are not really buying four walls or a roof, what they are after is a lifestyle.  Try and explain, in compelling terms, the kind of life they could lead if they owned your property.  A good way to get at benefits is to ask yourself why you bought the property in the first place and capture this in your listing description.

4)   Take some seductive photos that sell – More is not always better when it comes to photos. Too many listing descriptions have photo after photo cataloging all the features of the house.   It’s better to adopt an advertising mindset.  Each photo in your listing should be chosen because it is advertising your property, not merely documenting it.

5)   Ensure viewings can take place – As you live in another country, it’s important to set up easy viewing arrangements.  If you have a caretaker or property manager, make sure they understand that one of their responsibilities is to ensure viewings can take place with minimum fuss.

6)   Prepare your house to sell –  First impressions matter.  Is the paint on the front door peeling?  Is your garden in disarray?  Get these basic things right and you’ll do wonders for the buyer.  Start at the front of the house and work towards the back, cleaning and de-cluttering as you go.  Don’t leave anything to the buyer’s imagination.

7)   Incentivize the developer – If you own property in a real estate development that has more inventory available, the developer may be conflicted when it comes to selling your property.  They’re often more motivated to sell their own property ahead of yours.  So be sure to offer an attractive commission and price your property below developer-direct property.

8)   Consider advertising on online listing sites for added exposure – More and more buyers looking at overseas property start their research on the web, well before they step foot in an airplane.  Get web-savvy, promote your property online and you’ll be able to catch buyers on the web.

Don’t assume that you can simply list your property for sale, kickback and wait for the offers to come rolling in.   In environments where there is no MLS you may need to take on some of the marketing legwork yourself.

For more detailed information on selling your overseas property, have a look at www.revealrealestate.com.