6 Tips for Guiding Buyers in a Seller’s Market

Inventory is bleak, but there are still ways brokers and agents can help their clients find the right home.
Family in front of house

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The seller’s market is only getting stronger in 2021 as home prices continue to rise and inventories hit record lows across the country. While mortgage rates have inched up slightly, they remain low, enticing buyers to continue their house hunt.

There are several ways brokers and agents can help buyer clients navigate the current seller’s market.

1. Stay on top of your game.

Now is the time to show clients why you’re the best player for their team. Highlight your experience and expertise in the area and get a clear picture of exactly what they’re are looking for—there is no time to waste showing homes that don’t fit the bill. Keep consistent tabs on new listings and jump on opportunities as quickly as you can to stay competitive for your clients. Responsiveness and communication are key.

2. Set clear expectations.

Depending on your buyers’ housing and financial situation, a low-inventory market is not a great time to wait for the perfect home to come along. Help your buyers adjust their expectations and get on the same page about non-negotiables. Paint colors can be changed, and additions can even be made in time, but things like location and lot size are permanent. Discuss expectations for buying outside of the search parameters as well, and be prepared to accommodate the seller’s need in many cases.

3. Avoid showing houses at the top of the budget.

When inventory is low and competition is high, homes tend to sell for over asking, and bidding wars are common. If you’re already at the top of your clients’ budget and they're asked to go even higher, it’s probably not going to be worth anyone’s time. Showing houses at the lower or middle tier of the budget will leave you room to bid a little higher than asking if necessary.

4. Consider alternative neighborhoods.

With close to half of the population working remotely these days, your buyers may be more open to the idea of living in neighborhoods they may have not previously considered. Can you find them a home that checks everything on their wish list that’s in the suburbs instead of downtown? Can you find them a lower price point per square foot if they are willing to expand their radius? Factors like commuting and access to public transportation are not as crucial as they once were, and many families are after access to outdoor activities instead. This is where your knowledge of the local area will be key.

5. What can you do to sweeten the deal?

Here in my home state of Oregon, homes are frequently selling the same day they are listed on the market, with multiple offers. When sellers are receiving multiple competitive offers in such a short amount of time, anything you can do to help your clients’ offer stand out will put you ahead. Do your research to come up with several strategies that will help your clients win the homes they want.

6. Get creative with your long game.

Real estate professionals can gain a leg up through strong business partnerships in their communities. This could mean cultivating an exclusive relationship with a few builders who are working on spec homes so that you have an “in” for new homes coming on the market. This will also allow you to act as a conduit between the expectations you are seeing from home buyers and the features that builders are including in their homes, creating a pipeline of highly desirable new houses that meet your clients’ needs.

Some real estate firms act as exclusive representatives for new or existing developments and are able to piggyback on marketing campaigns and other outreach efforts (not to mention building expertise and becoming the go-to company for specific neighborhoods). Of course, being involved with business organizations like your local chamber, builders’ associations, and REALTOR® associations is also a smart move for building a solid long game and important business relationships.

Life as we know it has changed, and for how long no one can be certain. Stay up to date on the latest market trends, predictions, and data, and update your strategies accordingly. Buyers will be looking to you—and your agents or team—for expertise, so make sure you can provide them with the knowledge they need.

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