As the housing market changes thanks to rising inventory and slower price growth, do real estate agents need to change their approach at all? When it comes to marketing listings and finding buyers, agents find their approach is to stay the course — with a few notable exceptions.
“Nothing really changes,” Randy Sumbles, a Realtor with The Sumbles Team at Keller Williams Little Rock said. “It is all about exposure.”
To find buyers and sellers, Sumbles said his team members call contacts they generate through Cole Realty Resource, a hyperlocal prospecting platform, for three hours every morning. His brokerage also uses Vulcan for expired leads and Zillow to find for-sale-by-owner leads.
To market properties, his brokerage sends fliers, does open houses with a lot of promotion, Facebook ad boosts, Google AdWords for additional advertising and posts listings on its websites.
“This is what we do and will continue to do,” Sumbles added. “Market conditions do not change what we do.”
In a seller’s market
Gerry Zagorski, the vice president of sales for virtual home tour company FloorPlanOnline, agreed with Sumbles and said it’s actually a misnomer that real estate agents shouldn’t spend time and money on marketing when it’s a seller’s market.
“In a seller’s market some tend to think the home is going to sell anyway so why expend the energy or spend the money on marketing?” Gerry Zagorski said. “A listing in any market condition is your opportunity to market yourself as well, so why squander a perfectly good opportunity by letting up on your marketing?”
Kristin McFeely, a real estate agent with Compass believes it will be more important than ever to be community-focused and involved in the local community, especially when it comes to open houses.
“I think going back to more grassroots marketing to find buyers will be key,” McFeely said. “Get involved in your community by volunteering, attending school functions and even sitting on your zoning board to authentically meet people.”
Open houses in some neighborhoods are very effective, she added, but when hosting, you have to make yourself stand out as the agent who does things differently. “Provide neighborhood and community information, and position yourself as the expert, not just a host.”
In a buyer’s market
When marketing homes in a buyer’s market, the appearance and condition of the home will be more important than ever, according to McFeely.
“With lots of competition, making the home stand out by selecting thoughtful finishes and staging will be critical,” she said. “Some sellers will offer buyer incentives and selling bonuses, but the spending a little money upfront on a thoughtful preparation of getting the home ready for market will be key. When there are many homes on the market, sellers need to stand out.”
Dan Smith, a former Realtor, real estate coach, author, speaker and Inman contributor agreed that the marketing doesn’t change much, but agents do need to focus more on their customer service when the market shifts.
“The customer service has to go through the roof as homes sit longer and sellers get frustrated with agents who don’t know what to say since [days on market] triples or whatever,” Smith said. When it comes to finding buyers in a buyer’s market, Smith said those who control the listing inventory will control the buyers — but again, customer service will be huge.
“Knowledge of the market will be huge,” Smith added. “If an agent ever says the words ‘let me check the MLS,’ then their knowledge will be lacking in the eyes of the buyer,’” Smith said.
“They are looking for exceptional, not average,” Smith added. “The average answer is ‘let me check the MLS.’”
Scott Curcio, a real estate agent with Baird & Warner, agrees that we’re seeing a shift in the market.
“We are certainly seeing a slowdown in most market segments and communities where we work, largely driven by the increase in interest rates,” Curcio said. “Buyers are being very cautious and many of our clients are examining all the expenses that they will incur.”
Curcio explained that sellers need to see the property from the seller’s perspective. He said he’s paying attention to the homes that are contingent/pending to really understand where buyers are seeing the value.
“Proper pricing and staging is as important as it ever was,” Curcio said. “It’s more important to look at your active competition for sale, to see how you fit. Price yourself in relation where you will stand out as the most compelling property for sale – the one that someone would buy next.”
As the market shifts, sellers and brokers can’t wait for buyers to come to them, Curcio added.
“Those that are successful are proactive instead of reactive,” he said.
He’s also seeing incentives directed towards buyers being very important to help a home overcome its shortcomings – whether that’s finding a parking space to rent or purchase for a home that doesn’t have it, offering a design allowance or credit with a local contractor to make improvements, or crediting a buyer for two years of a property tax buy down.
“Sellers and brokers have to get creative and in doing so, make sure the offer you extend speaks to that specific buyer to help meet their needs and overcome their objections,” Curcio added.
Michael LaFido, a Realtor with @properties, believes there’s no simple answer on how best to market a property as the market shifts in the buyer’s favor, however, “I do believe the way the property is presented to your potential buyer is the first step and most important step.”