Fall has moved in after a strong summer season, and as the year begins to draw to a close, it’s a perfect time to review the market’s performance and where it’s headed — and what that means for real estate agents and their business moving forward.
It’s also a good time for agents to review their performance, assess how they’ve done and plan what they’d like to do next year.
By most indicators, 2015 has been a good year for the real estate industry. As of this past August, pending home sales have risen year-over-year every month for 12 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Existing-home sales are showing much the same trend, as they have increased year-over-year for 11 consecutive months. In fact, existing-home sales were 6.2 percent higher this past August than in August 2014.
On top of these positive trends, the median existing-home price increased 4.7 percent year-over-year this past August, the 42nd consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Inventory remains somewhat tight and was at a 5.2 month supply in August. This has remained somewhat steady throughout the year, however, and most real estate agents are seeing these numbers reflected in their sales.
A more positive note from this NAR data is the recent increase in first-time homebuyers, a demographic many have been keeping a waiting eye on. The share of first-time buyers rose to 32 percent in August, an increase from the 29 percent share seen in August 2014.
But what do these numbers mean to the average real estate agent? A positive-moving market is always good for sales, but agents who want to finish the year strong and get a good start on 2016 must look to the trends in their local market and act accordingly.
Here are four things to consider as you align your business to take advantage of market opportunities in the coming months:
1. What does the job growth look like in your area? Are newly employed workers moving in and struggling to find homes? Are people enjoying wage growth and looking to enter the market?
If so, think about how you can better appeal to and serve first-time homebuyers. A recent NAR reports shows that new-home construction is still lagging behind demand. What can you do to better interest first-time buyers in existing homes?
2. On the flip side, can you help clients who are on the fence about selling begin to move forward? For instance, are you keeping an eye on pricing trends in your market to determine which homes have moved to positive equity positions? If so, reach out to homeowners within your area to see if they want to list their properties now.
Go through your prospect database and flag homeowners who might be ready to sell. Now is a great time to check in with those people and to review your local MLS activity to identify homes that were listed over the past year only to be pulled off the market. Are they ready to move now?
3. In addition to finding new clients to work with, find new ways to broaden your existing network. Have you considered engaging with real estate investors in your area? Although many thought investor interest would begin to wane as prices increased, investors purchased 12 percent of homes this past August, the same rate as August 2014.
Networking within the investing community can open up a whole new range of buying and selling opportunities for motivated real estate agents. To work in this market segment, you should investigate areas where apartment occupancy rates are near 100 percent, in addition to locating nearby homes that would make good rental properties.
4. To further broaden your network, consider connecting with local lenders and mortgage brokers. These mortgage professionals can be essential resources as rates and the market change.
Seek out ways to work with these professionals to better serve your market — consider offering borrower seminars on how to get a loan or a session specifically for first-time homebuyers.
As the market continues to show positive growth, there’s a wealth of opportunities for savvy real estate professionals looking to take their business to the next level.
You should do whatever you can to be a critical resource — whether to buyers, sellers, mortgage professionals or the community in general.
If you show yourself to be invaluable, people will turn to you with their business, and you can take this year’s success and magnify it in the years to come.
Wendy Forsythe serves as executive vice president and head of global operations for Carrington Real Estate Services LLC. Follow her on Twitter.