Demand is high and inventory is at record lows across much of the country, resulting in longer search times for some prospective buyers. Sometimes this hunt for the right home can stretch into a year or even longer.
During such a long haul, how can REALTORS® keep their clients engaged?
Keep in constant touch and manage expectations
It’s important REALTORS® stay in touch with clients and the best way to do that can vary according to what each client expects, says Sherry Sheldrick, salesperson and REALTOR®. Some will prefer texting or email, and some want a phone call on a regular basis.
“One way of staying in touch with buyers is emailing the client new listings that meet their criteria, which can result in a follow-up call or message,” says Sheldrick. “Understand what the client’s expectations are and establish this early in the relationship.”
To build a personal connection with your clients, start by simply asking questions about them—about their family, what they do for work and what’s important to them, for example.
“Share personal information about yourself, as it helps to build the connection,” says Sheldrick. “I like to determine the client’s personality first and then adjust my communication based on their personality, so that I am communicating with them effectively to meet their expectations.”
In such a competitive market, managing buyers’ expectations can be challenging, says Sheldrick. With many properties selling for over list price, it’s important to have discussions with clients about what their maximum spend is.
“Sometimes we must lower the price range of properties that we’re looking at so they will have room to compete in an offer situation,” says Sheldrick. For example, if someone is approved for a $300,000 mortgage, they should be looking at properties in the $250,000 to $260,000 range.
No one likes to compromise but this market may require it, depending on the situation. Always be honest with buyers and give them professional advice on property market value, says Sheldrick.
“Buyers do need to compromise more in this sellers’ market, which includes being patient and being prepared to offer their best price and terms, as there is much less opportunity for negotiations than we see in a buyer’s or balanced markets,” she says.
Jaime Briggs, a salesperson and REALTOR® from Kelowna, British Columbia, says it’s important you and your clients have the right mindset during their journey.
“Most of all keep your chin up and stay positive. You have to trust the process and recognize that everything happens for a reason. Somewhere there really is a house for you,” Briggs tells her clients.
She also advises her clients to avoid looking for “perfect.” Even if a property missing a box or two on her client’s checklist, it might end up being the perfect property.
“Your clients may have to adjust their search criteria and be willing to give up some things. Remember that this home may not be forever! Many people move every five to seven years,” said Briggs.
For buyers who do face longer wait times, Sheldrick, agrees a positive outlook and encouragement are important.
The right property will come along eventually, even if that means buyers need to search for an extended amount of time.
“It is so rewarding when I hear a buyer say I am so happy that we didn’t get that other home, as we love this one even more,” she says.
It might be that the right property just hasn’t come along, or the buyer has been in situations where their bid was not the winning offer and they must keep the search going. It’s even more challenging for buyers in pressing situations when they’re faced with having to find a temporary home (rental or stay with family) until the right property comes along.
“Work with them continuously to keep them engaged,” says Sheldrick.
Have a strategy
Starting the search early allows time for the right property to come along and reduces the stress level for buyers. Sheldrick has found that, in many situations, buyers who start their search early with the intent to move in approximately three to six months are successful.
Briggs says having a mortgage pre-approval and deposit in place and ready to go is critical in a seller’s market, so make sure your client’s have their ducks in a row when you start showing them properties.
“On your offer, be sure to put your best foot forward. Not only the highest price that you are willing to pay, but also as clean an offer as possible,” says Briggs.
REALTORS® should advise their clients not only on pricing strategies, but to do as much due diligence as possible before putting pen to paper. That could be reviewing strata documents, reviewing title and even doing a home inspection prior to the offer submission.
The market is impacting the length of the buying process as demand continues to outpace inventory. So, even though homes are generally selling quickly, some buyers are missing out on house after house.
“Patience and starting the process early is important in this market,” says Sheldrick.
In some cases, the right property can take a while to come along, while others might be competing on a property over and over without success. For some, especially buyers who require mortgaging, it can be challenging to compete with cash buyers, Sheldrick says.
“We sometimes need to strategize with buyers to determine a course of action that gives them more leverage in a multiple offer situation,” she says.
As an example, she might advise buyers to be prepared with a mortgage pre-approval and minimize the number of conditions on the offer with the quickest condition dates possible. A buyer may also wish to show flexibility on closing date so that it benefits the seller.
“Each situation can be a little different, so work with the buyer to determine their best leverage advantage,” says Sheldrick.