Strategies for getting hesitant homeowners off the fence and on the market

Those who fear they have little or negative equity may be in a better position than they think

Are homeowners hesitant to enter the market? Real estate agents are finding that they seem to be, and there are two big reasons.

The first being that the news of low inventory of homes for sale is making headlines, and many sellers wonder where they will go once they sell. The low inventory makes it hard for them to find that next property. These sellers have ventured out to look and they are not finding what they want, or they see how competitive the market is and don’t want to jump into the fray. Often they don’t have to. They have a house. It may not be ideal, but it is the path of least resistance.

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Potential seller image via Shutterstock.

Another group of property owners have been in a holding pattern. Right or wrong, they think they are underwater or that they have little to no equity, making it costly to make a move. The market in most of the country has improved, and those underwater homeowners and low-equity homeowners may be in a better position than they think they are, and moving is an option for them.

As a real estate agent, there are strategies you can use to turn property owners into sellers, and the goal of each of the strategies is educating the buying and selling public about the local market today.

Real estate news tends to lag behind, and getting the word out about the improved market will coax some who are hesitating to enter the market now instead of later.

Social media – This is a very effective tool for telling the story of the market in your area. Did your new listing sell immediately with many interested buyers? Tell the story on Facebook. Boost the post. For little money spent you can target a very specific audience when boosting a post on Facebook. A story of a wildly popular house with a photo will generate lots of conversation and interest. Social media is the great cocktail party on the Net, and a favorite topic at the party is real estate! One word of caution: Be very careful not to give away any confidential information.

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Postcard campaigns – The news in many markets is that desirable areas are appreciating quickly and the houses are selling in less time than they did last year. Let homeowners know by sending them a statistic-filled card with the data for their area. Use a catchy headline to grab attention.

There is less junk mail in our postal mailboxes these days and much more in our email inbox. This has created what I call “email immunity.” The average email user (and let’s face it, almost everyone has email today) gets 125 emails per day. It is easy for your email message to get lost in an inbox. Postcards are proving to be more effective, but they have to contain excellent information. Recipe cards will not cut it.

Check out the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program. It is an affordable way to send cards to a whole postal route. The cards are huge (6.5 inches by 9 inches) and make quite an impact for a reasonable price.

Door-to-door canvassing – A great way to meet future sellers is to canvass neighborhoods. When hosting an open house, invite the neighbors. They are curious and will likely come anyway, and if you are in need of more inventory in their area bring them an invitation to your open house. You will have an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with homeowners to share the good news that their house is likely worth more than they think and that there are buyers for their property. The other topic you can bring up with them is how you help sellers secure their next home with your proactive approach to doing business.

The reality of the market we are in is that if we do not take these proactive steps to find listings and to find homes to sell buyers, they will take these tasks into their own hands in an effort to secure a home. It is happening already in many markets — my market in the Northeast included. Buyers are panicked about finding a house and will go to great lengths to find one, including prospecting for themselves.

What is needed to balance out the buyer-heavy market? More listings, of course.

Let’s say a downsizing seller takes the step of entering the market. He creates inventory for the buyers out there who are ready to buy. Let’s say those buyers also have a property to sell; perhaps that property is a condo that the downsizer would be interested in buying. Voila! We have a match.

This market is truly a “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” market. Sellers are the chickens and buyers the eggs who may also be chickens, and we need chickens and we need eggs to balance out the out-of-balance real estate market we are currently experiencing.

Wendy English is the vice president and sales manager at Century 21 Commonwealth in Medfield, Mass.


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