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Although the official start of spring is a few days away, the real estate market is already blazing hot as homebuyers attempt to get a jump on the competition amid record-low inventory, fierce bidding wars and rising mortgage rates.
As homebuyers weigh the risks and benefits of exiting the market, Corcoran Country Living broker-owner Jason Karadus, Corcoran Dwellings broker-owner Liane Jamason and Corcoran Ferester Realty agent Marilyn Carson said agents have to lean into their roles as trusted advisors to help clients reach their goals.
“I think everybody will agree that the differences between 2020, 2021 and 2022 are pretty huge,” Carson said during Corcoran’s sponsored Connect Now session moderated by Corcoran Group performance and growth consultant Eric Kidhardt. “In 2020, everyone freaked out [and] a lot of people took their houses off the market. And then in 2021, we were selling a lot of things that never hit the market.”
“We would sell [listings] before they ever came on, which is really difficult for newer agents who don’t have the contacts or relationships with other agents,” she added. “Then this year, there’s just no inventory. I mean, the top agents don’t have any listings either so everybody’s on the same page.”
Since everyone’s on the same playing field, the trio said agents are reviewing their business plans with a fine-toothed comb and figuring out what they can do to keep their pipeline flowing with new buyers and inventory. Although social media is the leading way to connect with buyers and build a brand, Jamason said her agents are finding the most success with old-school tactics.
“I have an agent that is kind of a TikTok queen and she has people message her through TikTok and Instagram and things like that. So certainly, social media is just as big as ever,” she said. “But traditional methods are coming back. The same TikTok star [I mentioned] is also door-knocking.”
“There’s another top team in my market that just dominates a particular neighborhood and they door knock the whole area, especially around holidays,” she added. “They bring little gifts and it might sound cheesy, but it’s kind of [getting] back to the basics of talking to people and knowing your market.”
Karadus echoed Jamason and said his team members have been using social media as the first point of contact, especially for millennial homebuyers who use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other platforms to scope out listings and connect with agents. However, after answering a direct message, his agents try to immediately get buyers on the phone to have an in-depth conversation.
A lot of our initial outreach and contact is digital, but I think what they really need is high touch personalized service [and] they also need to be educated,” he said. “A lot of the first-time buyers — millennial or not — need to be educated as to kind of where the market is [and] I think a lot of buyers, unfortunately, are losing out on properties.”
“I tell my agents to pick up the phone [because buyers] need real-time data,” he added. “If they lose out on on a house that or two that they have their eye on and you’re not responsive, you’re going to lose a client.”
Each agent said homebuyers’ needs have drastically changed throughout the pandemic, and they’re anticipating another shift as employers tease hybrid work schedules and loosening coronavirus protection measures make urban areas more attractive again.
“I think what the pandemic has done was sort of caused people to reevaluate how much time they need to be in New York City,” Karadus said. “I do think the people talking about people leaving New York is absolutely overstated. Most of our clientele has stayed in New York, but maybe just reevaluated what they need.”
“All of the people that purchase during the pandemic that we thought might be panic buyers, have stayed,” he added. “We haven’t actually relisted anything that we that we’ve sold during the two years of the pandemic, which I think is interesting.”
Meanwhile, Carson, who serves buyers and sellers in Texas and Florida, said families with school-age are driving most of the activity in her markets. “For a long time [The Woodlands, Texas] was a very sleepy town and now it’s just exploded mostly with 30 to 40-somethings,” she said. “School districts are struggling they never needed [that many] schools before and now they’re just busting.”
As the spring homebuying season kicks into high gear, Jamason, Carson and Karadus said they’re encouraging their agents to created streamlined marketing plans that put them in front of the clients they want to serve, which may require shifting more funds to social media ads or other traditional methods, such as mailed flyers or setting up a coffee fund for client meetings.
“At the end of the day, you’re talking about the largest financial transaction of people’s lives and they still need some hand-holding — it’s not something that can all be done by some computer program,” Jamason said. “So going back to some of those basics and building those relationships with people is just as important as it ever was.”