How To Prepare For A Buyers’ Market
The sellers’ market that has dominated real estate trends for the past few years has recently seen signs of softening and sales activity will most likely become more in favor of buyers over the next year. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to panic, but if there are headwinds coming our way the time to prepare for them is before they arrive. During my thirty years of running a brokerage, I’ve seen how the best agents plan ahead for the downturn and I’d like to share some of the ideas here.
Market Outside The Lines
One of the more creative ideas I’ve seen is a real estate agent who started a Facebook group specifically for short or long term rentals (for both people looking for a rental or those who are looking for tenants). The agent gets absolutely nothing out of these leases, but she gets plenty of free advertising by going about it in a savvy way. First, she created the group so it was a ‘private’ Facebook group, which means anyone who wants to join has to answer a few easy questions.
One of the questions is asking people to mention her name as a referral when they hear of someone looking for an agent. Then every few days she pops up in the news feed mentioning something about a rental coming soon or an interesting news article so that her name stays fresh in people’s minds. It costs her nothing but about half an hour a week. She has been doing this for years and now has thousands of followers in the group and every once in a while she will put up a post about one of her buyers who is looking to purchase a property to get leads that way.
Market Inside The Lines
When buyers can take their pick of homes on the market it usually comes down to some very specific detail that makes them choose one home over another. I’ve seen it be everything from the trees being taller in the backyard to the buyers’ perception that they couldn’t hear the traffic as much from one house compared to others. In all these cases the examples are not only very specific but it is also impossible to predict which of them to include in the listing description in case that is the one detail that finds you a buyer. The only thing for an agent to do in those cases is to create a dedicated website for that property and take as many photos of the specific details about a house that could possibly catch someone’s eye. Here are a few more examples I’ve seen during my career:
- The chandelier in the dining room was nicer.
- The slope of the backyard was going to be easier to mow.
- They didn’t have to take a left across a busy street when they were driving to work each day.
- They liked the thicket of bamboo in the yard.
Market In Multiple Niches
Besides broadening your advertising base in online platforms it is time to start identifying places to advertise that are very niche publications. Sometimes it is the weekly print newspaper for a subsection of your city, or the newsletter at local places of worship, or flyers sent to workplaces in the vicinity of the property (in this case stick to the larger employers so you’re not spending so much on postage). All of these outlets have a small audience, but collectively they add up to a bigger population of people you might not reach if you rely solely on syndicating listings through your MLS.
There is no denying that a buyers’ market can be one of the toughest times for agents to survive. Agents who lay the groundwork ahead of time are the ones who come out on the other side. Even if a downturn is on its way, it doesn’t have to slow you down.
Allen Alishahi is the co-founder of the real estate tech start-up ShelterZoom.