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Agents are scaring up business in a tight market where elevated mortgage rates and low inventory are discouraging both buyers and sellers by reaching out to past clients and providing insights that are unique to their market and situation.
Reynolds, a Silicon Valley-based real estate broker with Rain Maker Real Estate, said two things that have been helping her find listings are calling people in her sphere when she has a buyer and using RPR (Realtors Property Resource) to send out annual equity updates to potential sellers.
“So every time I have a buyer, I like to call everybody in my sphere,” Reynolds said. “It’s not a huge list. It’s probably under 200 households. And I just ask them, are they thinking about making a move in the next year to two? Or do they know anybody that’s thinking about making a move? So I’m trying to create some inventory for my buyer pool.”
RPR is included in her MLS, and Reynolds likes to hand deliver equity updates to her “A list” clients once a year to let them know how much their homes have appreciated in value.
“I put a nice little cover letter with it and I bind it, you know, nothing fancy but I have a branded, navy blue envelope that I always use and I do that around every listing,” Reynolds said. “They tell us to do ‘just sold’ or ‘just listed’ postcards. I don’t do those. I door knock or I drop these.”
James, managing partner of Washington, D.C.-based Coalition Properties Group, said his business is “97 percent sphere referral based.” By calling her sphere, James pointed out that Reynolds is not only bringing her clients an opportunity, but giving them the impression that their interests are always top of mind.
“So you’re creating raving fans, where the opportunity that you have for them right now may not be for them, but when they go out there talking about real estate, they’re gonna refer you,” James said.
To have that kind of personal touch, it’s critical to organize your sphere into A list, B list and C list clients, Reynolds said.
“You have to identify who’s in your A list, and I do put people in my A list that I have not done business with and have not referred me, but are people I want to do business with,” Reynolds said. “So it’s a slightly different strategy.”
Reynolds said her A list “gets everything — they get invited to all the parties, they get twice-a-year gifts. The B list gets a little bit less, but I will call my B list. If I’ve got their phone number, I will call them if I’m looking for inventory, especially if it’s specifically for a buyer.”
D’Alessio, a New York-based broker with NestSeekers International, agreed that having ongoing personal contact with past and existing clients is critical to generating listings.
“Right now I have a team of 42 agents in New York City, and I’m telling them to go back to see what has not transacted in the past three years,” she said. “Sellers who have been on the market in the past three years and have not sold? They are sellers. You just need to give them value and you need to give them confidence in the market that yes, even though interest rates have come up and purchasing power has decreased and a lot of buyers have left the market, properly priced inventory is transacting and we still are low on inventory.”
For D’Alessio, the most important factor to being successful in a market where listings are scarce is “to keep that positive energy and spirit.”
“The people who come up to me in the room who have the negative doom and gloom outlook on the market, I don’t want to have a conversation with them for more than two minutes,” D’Alessio said. “But the agent who’s trying to innovate, who has a great outlook on where things are going, where the future lies, who’s piecing together talking about how difficult deals are but taking pride in the creativity that was required throughout the process? That’s the person I want to do deals with.”
“Not only do we have to be following up with clients right now, but we have to be following up with other agents,” James said in summarizing D’Alessio’s take. James said he’s found consistent social media branding can also pay off in the long run, and D’Alessio and Reynolds agreed.
“Social media is huge for my business,” D’Alessio agreed, “And it’s taken me six or seven years to get to this level of having a platform and being consistent with it and being comfortable on it. So it does not happen overnight.”
Social media posts help demonstrate “the tenacity of my team, the creativity that’s happening in the office” to market properties in a high interest rate, low inventory market.
“Being able to do that every single day has been valuable to my business, because even if the same group of people isn’t seeing it every day over and over again, all I need is one person to see one post, and for that brand recognition to stay front of mind,” D’Alessio said. “You just have to capture the right person at the right point in time. And the only way you can hedge against that is by being incredibly consistent across your platforms.”
James said one of his favorite sayings about social media is, “Perfection is the enemy of progress. Because a lot of times, we’re worried about the caption, worrying about the filters and things of that nature. We want it to be super perfect, but we lose a lot of time and think about it — we’re losing clients.”
Reynolds said she posts “Burning Real Estate Question of the Day” videos on Facebook and Pinterest that are “super raw. Like I get a question from a buyer or seller, and I just shoot it and post it.”
Every question an agent gets from a buyer, a seller, another agent, “or somebody in the grocery store — anything about real estate, that’s valuable content,” Reynolds said. “It’s all there. It’s happening in your life every day. And you don’t need to give the whole story away, right?”
Reynolds said one of her tactics when to create urgency with buyers who are just “kicking tires” because they’re hoping interest rates will come down is to think about the implications if they don’t — and home prices keep rising.
“Just the other day I looked at something I think priced at a million and a half dollars, which is kind of a very entry-level home, right, and said, ‘Okay, guess what, at 8.25 percent interest rate and your down payment, this is what your [monthly] payment is going to be. Let’s fast forward to next March, when I promise you the prices are going to be higher. Even if the interest rate doesn’t go down, the prices here are going to be higher. Okay?”
Then she asked the would-be buyer to “fast forward even more,” to 2025.
“Now maybe we see interest rates start with a six, right? So I did six and a quarter. But your price point is gonna go up even more. Now you’re basically looking at the same exact price but you’re gonna pay more property taxes, closing costs — all that stuff. So it’s like if you’re qualified, and you’re ready to be in a certain type of home in a type of neighborhood, do it now.”
When working with would-be sellers who will also be buyers but are concerned about interest rates, Reynolds said it’s important for agents to have a support team that knows how to help sellers buy before they sell using tools, including 1031 exchanges and reverse mortgages.
“We have to invest in our education and make sure we’re perfecting those skill sets and what’s going on out here in the marketplace, so our clients are not looking at the news for information,” James said. “They’re coming to us to look for that information.”