Spring Madness is a week-long Inman series analyzing this year’s spring homebuying season. We’re digging into the state of the housing market, the impact of rising mortgage rates, the role of open houses and the rapidly vanishing starter home, among other big issues. It’s total madness, all week long.
The spring market came early this year.
Or, at least, last year’s market never really stopped.
With spring officially set to begin Sunday, real estate agents told Inman they haven’t seen a seasonal slowdown in their markets — or an opportunity to pause and reset before the busy season begins.
“There is no spring market — it hasn’t stopped,” Nichole Jones of the Principle Real Estate Group in Salt Lake County, Utah, told Inman. “So I’m just taking things day by day.”
“The spring market’s started already,” echoed CJ Lee of Redfin in Boston. “I’m already doing a lot of listings compared to the typical spring market so I guess you had to be prepared earlier.”
For agents already in the thick of it like Jones and Lee, it may be too late to execute some of the most ambitious campaigns — like overhauling marketing strategies or hiring videographers — but there are still a few last-minute steps agents can take to position themselves for a win this spring and summer while continuing to juggle existing clients. None are too demanding.
Reach out to your sphere
Keeping in touch with past clients and your sphere of influence on a regular basis is always a good idea. Keeping those lines of communication open by phone, text, mail and email is also easy to sneak in between appointments.
“I have a referral system and I go for past customers in the area where I live, so that’s basically what my marketing is,” Sharon Williams of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Tampa told Inman. “Both emailing and calling.”
“I’m doing the same thing I always do [this year],” Lisa Sapenaro of Keller Williams Kansas City-Northland added. “Marketing and always keeping in contact with my sphere of influence. Maybe trying to add some more campaigns in there, like Facebook campaigns. That’s my game plan.”
Look for inventory in new places
Low inventory continues to be on most agents’ minds, and agents told Inman they’re exploring new avenues to find inventory as their buyers scramble for a piece of the pie this spring.
Kim Crane of Howard Hanna in Cleveland said that she’s leaned into ‘coming soon’ listings since her MLS allows 24 hours before marketed properties have to be listed. She’s also tried to make her team a market leader in creating those ‘coming soon’ listings, so that buyers get into the routine of going to her company’s site and social media as a first resource.
“My biggest thing is finding or creating inventory,” Crane said. “We are listing leaders in the market, so a lot of buyers have committed to working with us because they want to be able to get the information first … Buyers want what they can’t have, so [when we advertise ‘coming soon’], they ask, ‘Tell me the price — when can I get in?'”
Building a search for overlooked inventory into his agents’ workflow is something that Lindsay Reishman of Pareto powered by Side has implemented at his recently launched brokerage in Washington, D.C.
“With the lack of inventory, we are looking to build practices into our client experiences to help people find more inventory,” Reishman told Inman. “So, looking for properties that are not on the market, calling agents to see if they have things that are in their pipeline are some of the practices that we’re implementing in preparation for spring.”
Have an attorney double-check your contract language
As buyers seek to remain competitive in this market, many agents are trying to get creative with their contracts and write up anything that might give their buyer that competitive edge. It’s a great practice to think outside the box under these circumstances, but it’s also important to have a qualified, responsive attorney check any new language that you haven’t used before.
“We’re seeing a lot of nuanced language getting added to offers in order to potentially stand out against the competition,” Liz Barletta, a real estate attorney with Ligris + Associates in Newton, Massachusetts, told Inman. “So having an attorney actually be responsive throughout the process is important because you want to make sure that as an agent, the language that’s added to this offer is actually saying what you want it to say.”
“It could be various things, [like] if they’re offering sellers to stay in the property for a period of time … but if you’re not formatting the provision in the proper way, you may think that what you’re adding in is doing what you’re intending it to do, but it may not.”
Keep encouraging potential sellers
Crane added that matching buyers and sellers who can be flexible with their timelines or are willing to do leasebacks has also helped with inventory issues. She’s encountered a number of sellers who were hesitant to list because of the fear of not being able to find a new place to live, but keeps encouraging them that there are solutions available when they can’t find a new home before they sell.
“[Sellers have] been thinking about moving and tee up, and then they get cold feet because ‘There’s no where for me to go,'” Crane said. “Back in the day, they used to go, ‘Oh, I can move in with family for a little bit’ or ‘I can swing it,’ but there’s no rentals right now either, which is scary.”
But in Crane’s market, she said homes that have sold just recently with sellers who needed to leaseback until as late as October 2022 have still received multiple offers because there’s so much demand.
“Despite the weather and time of year, it’s still a great time to be a seller,” Crane said. “So [I’m] just drilling that home.”
When asked what she was doing to prepare for the spring market, Kim Parmon of Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon, told Inman she was “in it at the moment.” Like others, Parmon didn’t get a seasonal break this year, and the pace of her business has made it even more important for her to set expectations with her clients as she brings them on — and establish boundaries.
“It’s really about setting clear expectations and asking the right questions,” Parmon said. “Really letting them know that this is what I do and I am the expert and I am here to be here for them.”
“Of course, I’m here for them and I want what’s absolutely best for them,” she added, “but I gain my space through setting those boundaries and those clear expectations with them, so we’re all on the same page and I’m not getting the late-night phone calls and the complaints and all that. That’s not what I’m here for — I’m here to sell your house.”
Practice healthy habits
At these busy times, it’s important for agents to remember to practice self-care by getting a little exercise, eating wholesome foods, meditating and getting enough sleep, among other healthy habits.
Jeffrey Barkstall, a Century 21 Heartland Real Estate agent in Champaign, Illinois, told Inman (with cheekiness) he was “getting in shape” to prepare for the spring market this year.
“I’m doing push-ups and sit-ups and jogging, because they tried to run us ragged last year!” he said.
Although Barkstall may have been half joking, he brings up an important point — people like real estate agents who work tirelessly to help other people every day can only do so after taking care of themselves.