Homebuyers who regret their decision after buying a home turn to rapid resales and find big bucks in the process. Dubbed boomerang sellers, these homeowners likely turn to real estate agents to guide them.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, one of Gary Dolch’s buyers purchased a new waterfront home for $681,000 in Austin. Nine months later, the buyer became a boomerang seller, and put the home back on the market, generating multiple offers and a sale price of $1,005,000, according to Dolch, who leads the Austin Luxury Group with Compass in central Texas. “The owners were glad to move here, but when a better job offer came along in South Carolina, they decided to move again, and nearly doubled the price in 10 months,” says Dolch.
Since March 2020, many urban renters purchased single-family homes in suburban markets in search of more space as the economy shifted to remote working and schooling. But in their haste, many new buyers opted to forego inspections or other aspects of the due-diligence process. In fact, a November 2020 study by Statistica found that 54% of U.S. homeowners who bought in the prior six months said they should have waited for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, about 43% said they made the right decision, while 3% were not sure.
Now, rapid resales of homes purchased during the pandemic are occurring in many U.S. markets, as the live-work disruptions from COVID-19 recede with widespread vaccinations. The motives for these “boomerang sellers” include buyer’s remorse, hope for a quick profit, a desire to return to a prior community or an attractive job offer in another location.
Seeking repeat business
For brokers and agents, working with boomerang sellers on the quick resale trend creates timely opportunities for repeat business, according to Brian Wildermuth, senior vice president, Real Estate Services for Deluxe Branded Marketing in Littleton, Colorado. “While I’m not seeing a lot of buyer remorse in my markets, there are some powerful, data-driven ways to identify recent owners who are likely to sell, and generate repeat business,” he says. “That process should begin right at the closing.”
First, an agent should stay in touch with the client and ask whether email, phone call, texts or social media is the preferred channel. “Then, add your client to a regular cadence campaign, so you maintain a strong connection going forward,” Wildermuth says. “Look for ways to add value to the relationship, such as market updates. You want to be positioned as the trusted advisor, so that anyone looking for a quick sale will give you that repeat business.” Those market updates might show a buyer that the home has appreciated enough for them to become boomerang sellers.
Next, input notes about the client into the agent’s database, such as “plans to start a family in two years,” or “moved three times in the past decade.” Other information may also help to identify potential boomerang sellers, such as the turnover rate, available inventory or current values in a target neighborhood. After all, many new owners would likely consider a resale if there was a double-digit rise in local market prices.
Another clue is looking at the owner’s online behaviors. “A new owner who is asking for a home valuation or is searching sites for a new home and leaving a trail may well be looking to flip that first purchase and find something different,” Wildermuth says.
Customize marketing messages
When marketing to potential sellers, Wildermuth customizes messages for recent buyers who may be ready to sell or other target prospects, such as baby boomers seeking to downsize. “Rather than use a ‘spray and pray’ methodology, look at what current owners will likely be doing in the next few years,” he says. “Tailor your messages to the path your customer will be taking.”
Other messaging suggestions include showing empathy for buyers who may regret their decisions, providing helpful strategies for low-cost staging or even offering an incentive to owners selling a home purchased in the past year.
In any case, Wildermuth recommends an omni-channel messaging strategy, using video, social media, email and targeted advertising. Using client data plus an appropriate personalized message and omni-channel marketing will yield the greatest result. “Done appropriately, you could see a 500% lift in your response rate,” Wildemuth says. “It’s a very effective approach for generating repeat business.”