Having a hard time finding inventory? This is a common problem in the springtime: As weather begins to improve, homebuyers become more active, and agents suddenly have more demand for homes after a winter reduction in inventory from listings expiring during the off-season.

In our coaching practice, we get questions about this issue all the time, so we decided to broadcast about this on Real Estate Coaching Radio, which you can listen to on this page — but first, do a quick self-check to ensure that you’re not making any of these common buyer mistakes:

1. It’s not the buyer’s job to find a property to buy — that’s your job. Don’t wait for the buyer to email you what they want. Take the initiative to look daily for homes that meet the buyer’s needs, and remember to communicate with the buyer that you’re actively looking on their behalf.

2. Stay ahead of the competition and be the first one to see new inventory. Monitor your hot sheet and be ready to pounce.

3. Recognize that not all homes that sell are sold through the MLS (multiple listing service). Many homes are being sold intra-office, interoffice and in other ways. In this market, the listing agent has the power. Don’t be surprised when the listing agents attempt to premarket their listings in an effort to double-end the sale. Your mission is to “romance” all the local listing agents so they will share with you their “prelistings” — or, if they are real estate owned (REO) agents, their homes in “premarketing.”

We can’t reinforce this next point strongly enough: It is absolutely critical for you to understand that buyers want to buy a home. They don’t want to spend endless afternoons with you. Most buyers will fire their buyer’s agent if that agent hasn’t sold them after only two weeks or hasn’t shown them 10 homes. So always be aware that the clock is ticking, and your job is to move the buyer all the way through the homebuying process before they find someone else to do it for them.

No homes for sale? Create your own inventory (Part 1)


No homes for sale? Create your own inventory (Part 2)


Now let’s talk about inventory generation strategies: none of the ideas below cost a dime, so we recommend picking at least three of these ideas and implement them now.

1. New construction: It’s almost never listed in the MLS. Find what’s being built by looking in your local weekend newspaper and actually visit all the models. Start a file called “New Construction” and know the inventory. Know the price range, area, spec homes, builder perks and special financing. Become friends with new build reps because they can be a great source of resale referrals.

2. Centers of influence and past clients: Communicate regularly with your own past clients and center of influence contacts so you have your own pocket listings. Those are your personal “shadow inventory.” Offer free CMAs (comparative market analyses) for purposes of property tax assessment revisions.

3. “Wanted” ads: For your well-qualified, highly motivated buyers, run specific ads, which should describe their needs and target the exact neighborhoods they are looking for.

4. Zillow.com “Make me move”: These are homeowners who have gone to Zillow and created their home’s profile, updated the information and have actually stated the price they want. Before you criticize the higher price, realize their stated price could be what they owe and might make them a great short-sale candidate. Use door hangers and postcards, or simply door-knock the prospects.

5. Zillow.com “Preforeclosure”: When you do this you will get the exact addresses of homeowners who are already in preforeclosure. Hint: Sign up for a free account, and you’ll see the exact address instead of just the street. Again, use door hangers and postcards, or just door-knock.

6. Expired listings: New expired listings, old expired listings. Call them all. You know they wanted to sell their home at one point in time. Check the withdrawns, as well.

7. FSBOs (for-sale-by-owners): FSBOs are crying for help with a “help wanted” sign (aka their FSBO yard sign) and a phone number. We like to call them “unrepresented sellers,” because it’s really a more accurate description of where most of these folks are at. They’re typically not agent-hating do-it-yourselfers — more often than not, they just don’t know a quality agent they can trust. It’s your calling to provide wonderful service on their behalf.

8. Professional networking: More than ever, the listing agents control the market. Network with the listing agents. Note: If you have yet to become a powerful listing agent, you absolutely must learn this skill. Don’t forget professional non-real estate networking such as Business Networking International, the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, charity events and meetup.com. Try to attend at least three events per week to build your reputation as the go-to person for all things real estate.

9. Professional listing referrals: Register with listing referral companies so you are an insider, like our short-sale training program students are.

10. For-rent-by-owners: Call all for-rent-by-owners in your area, using the paper, Craigslist and classified ads to find them. Simply ask if they have considered selling the home versus keeping it as a rental. Hint: Many will have no clue what their home is worth in this market. When they learn their home is worth more than they think —  that’s a listing for you.

11. REO listing agents: REO listing agents know what they will be listing often months before the home is officially for sale. Ask to be notified of their “pocket listings,” “premarketing REOs” and so on. Hint: Hunt the preforeclosures — and don’t think for a second there aren’t any preforeclosures in your market.

12. Investors: Work with investors and run ads that say, “We pay cash for homes.” These sorts of ads will generate very motivated seller calls.

13. Move-up buyers (who have homes to sell): Run ads for “move-up” listings — the type of homes that first-time home sellers will move to, so you can then list the home they’re coming from. Borrow other agents’ listings, if necessary. Hint: Borrow listings from other agents if you don’t have any or if your listings aren’t what move-up buyers are looking for.

14. Use call-capture technology: Utilize 1800HomeHotline.com in your paper, on postcards and door hangers. This works best with wanted ads, free CMA offers and with preforeclosure prospects to discuss their options.

15. BPOs (broker price opinions) are a gold mine: Ask the owners why you they are doing the BPO. Chances are, they are thinking about doing a short sale, and the bank has ordered the BPO to establish value. List the home. Hint: Look at BPOs you did months ago — wanna bet they are ready to list now?

16. Property tax reassessments: We mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Offer CMAs and how-to information for helping owners have their property taxes reassessed.

Tim and Julie Harris have over 20 years’ experience in real estate. Learn more about their real estate coaching and training programs at timandjulieharris.com, or tune in to Real Estate Coaching Radio every weekday at realestatecoachingradio.com.

Email Tim Harris.

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