How To Manage Sellers During A Buyers’ Market

I wrote earlier about how agents can bring the buyers when there is a downturn in the market, so now I’m back with some of my experiences from dealing with sellers when there is an abundance of listings for sale. The reality is that marketing a listing when there are dozens to choose from is going to end up costing more, but not too much more.

Offer to pay for an appraisal

If you’re dealing with sellers who are still stuck on an asking price from a time when homes like theirs were selling for much higher numbers, sometimes the best way to convince them that times have changed is to call in a neutral third party. I often say to my sellers that not only will I pay for an appraiser to come and give a second opinion, but they can pick the appraiser themselves so that they don’t think I’m coordinating someone to secretly come up with a lower asking price. It can be hard for sellers to accept that they didn’t time the market correctly and now they’re paying the price. Instead of having to point out their mistake directly, let an appraisal do the work for you.

Go heavy on feel

During a seller’s market you will often see buyers writing a heartfelt letter to a seller telling them all the reasons why they should choose them over other buyers. But when the market turns its time to flip the script. Have your sellers write a letter saying what they have liked about living in the home, making sure they mention the ‘softer’ aspects that don’t show up in the standard MLS fields, such as sledding down the hill or watching the sunset from the roof (this relates to my previous post about marketing the property in a way that includes as many details as you can think of to try to catch someone’s attention). Then put together a ‘listing package’ with a list of the local amenities (and mention things like “great margaritas, where you can), a factsheet about the house (such as age of roof, driveway, other pertinent details), a list of local repair companies (plumbers, electricians, etc.) and anything else that would round out the information on the property. Include the letter from the sellers in the sheaf of paperwork (or electronic documents work too) so that the entire package covers both the facts and feel about the home. When the buyers are taking their time to go through the listings yours will stand out because it goes beyond just the facts and deep into what it is like to live there.

Bring in data on private sales

If it has reached the end of the calendar year and the home still hasn’t sold it will help to look into the multiple listing service for homes that sold off-MLS but have been entered for comp purposes only. When you bring your sellers a list of those homes in addition to the ones that sold on-market they can start to see that there isn’t some secret ingredient they’ve been missing out on. It can also help to bring them a single document that has every possible automatic valuation you can find. Include the smaller sites (such as Estately and Movoto) and agent-focused ones like Cloud CMA to demonstrate that even the AVMs are saying their home should be priced lower.

Sometimes sellers can be the most difficult side of the equation during a buyers’ market. They don’t want to lower their asking price or offer any concessions for a seller’s subsidy, yet they continually wonder why there aren’t any buyers taking an interest in the property. In any situation with a recalcitrant seller the best ways to shift their way of thinking is to bring in other parties that are coming from a neutral position. If that doesn’t work, then rely on an emotional hook about what it is really like to live in the home to get the buyers to sign on the dotted line.