What strategies does an agent need to perfect during a strong sellers’ market? With inventory in some regions of the country down by more than 50 percent compared to last year, it can feel like sellers’ agents can coast by without much effort while buyers’ agents are hitting a wall amid bidding wars and all-cash offers.
In reality, an agent’s role is to help clients navigate these complexities as much as possible. For the buyer’s agent, that means finding properties and helping make their application stand out amid multiple offers. For the seller’s agent, that often comes down to navigating multiple applications to look beyond the highest offers and truly find the best price-risk ratio.
“If you’re representing the buyer, you’re trying to get them the best deal but in a hot seller’s market, what’s going to be attractive to the seller is going to benefit your buyer ultimately,” Realtor Glennda Baker of Ansley Atlanta said at the “How to Kill It in a Sellers Market” session at Tuesday’s Connect Now. “The goal is to get us to the finish line to get us to the closing table and a lot of times if you’re not prepared, you’re destroyed.”
Here are some tips offered to agents in the session:
Pre-vet homes your clients are most likely to get
As evidenced by one man who drove from Atlanta to Texas to buy a home in a part of Texas promoted by Elon Musk, a sellers’ market increases the number of people looking to buy property as an investment. Erica Solomon of Monument Properties Sotheby’s advises agents to do the grunt work of visiting homes and knowing the neighborhood inside-out even before clients reach out with interest. That way, you’ll already be discussing properties more likely to be a good match at your very first phone call or Zoom meeting.
“In some cases, they are buying properties sight unseen so I have to make sure that I check into them, see the parameters of the home and the neighborhoods so that it can be a perfect match for their portfolio,” Solomon said.
Get your ducks in a row
In any market, an agent’s role is to help save clients time and stop them from visiting homes they won’t like or are not likely to get — in a sellers’ market, that role is supercharged since a bidding war and protracted application process can waste months on a house that ultimately goes to somebody able to make a higher, all-cash offer. Along with finding out the exact details of a clients’ financial situation prior to starting the hunt for a home, Baker’s team prepares a qualification cover letter for the seller that makes them as attractive as possible.
“I want to make sure we talk about how much they’re putting down, the type of financing that they’re doing, whether they’re doing proof of funds,” Baker said. “If you’re looking for a $500,000 house and you’re paying cash for it, do you have $500,001 or do you really have $800,000?”
Interpret data, negotiate and mitigate risk to the seller
When working with a buyer in a sellers’ market, agents truly have to prove their worth by bringing as much value to the client as possible. Chances are, they’re checking the same MLS just as often as you are and seeing all the same properties. That can mean anything from understanding pricing and explaining whether a client is likely to get a certain house to becoming a top-notch negotiator on their behalf. Sellers ultimately want to get as much as they can while also mitigating risk — your job is to present the strong points in a buyer’s offer in a way they might not have noticed otherwise.
“We’re not looked at as a search engine anymore — they don’t need us to search and they don’t even need to open the door,” Baker said. “Where your value comes in as a real estate professional in 2021 is your ability to help the seller prepare for the market and create a digital footprint.”
Prepare each home sale
While the current market makes it appear as though you can throw anything on the market and get a quick sale, an agent’s role is to maximize how much money you can bring your client. This means going through the property with the sellers, taking note of and fixing any repairs and staging it to look like a place where a potential buyer would love to live. Skipping all that that might still get you a sale, but it’s ultimately neglectful to the seller, who might not get as much money for the property.
“Just because there are more buyers for homes on the market doesn’t mean you can overlook the condition of the home,” Solomon said. “You still have a fiduciary responsibility to bring value to your client. When I sit down with a client, I walk through the entire house and I make a checklist of things that need to be done.”