How to help buyers separate themselves from the pack.
Residential real estate remains a decidedly sellers’ market in Northeast Florida, and it isn’t uncommon for the right homes in desirable neighborhoods to sell quickly and even generate multiple offers within a few days of listing.
That often leaves Realtors racing to find homes for their clients, particularly in the more popular price points. Homes sell quickly, but oftentimes buyers go months before they can find the right property as the limited inventory may not offer all the features they require or, if they do, they are scooped up before they can tour them and make an offer.
“If you are talking about under $500,000, it can be difficult to find just the right home,” said Linda Sherrer, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Realty Florida Home Services. “It can take six months for a buyer to find just the right property and get it closed.”
Just as sellers need to employ marketing techniques that make their homes stand out from the rest, buyers need to separate themselves from the pack as well.
In addition to being prepared to make the best possible offer, buyers must demonstrate to sellers that they are not only prepared to buy their home, but can buy it quickly.
One strategy is to go beyond securing mortgage prequalification to actually obtaining a mortgage in advance, one that real estate firms are implementing for their clients.
“You can get preapproved and say immediately that you are locked into a rate and by the time they find a property and complete negotiation, they can close within seven days,” said BH Realty Florida Home Services Realty Broker/Executive Vice President Christy Budnick, adding that having in-house mortgage services streamlines that process.
Being in a protracted sellers’ market also requires more effective communications systems that not only inform fellow agents and homebuyers details about existing inventory, but also about homes not yet on the market.
Berkshire Hathaway employs a sort of “dating service” to match near-future sellers with buyers. Within its network, the company can post details about homes that are being listed prior to actually hitting the Multiple Listing Service. This information is made available to buyers’ agents within the company.
“Our listing agents can go onto the platform and load up characteristics of that listing that is coming soon so they can get it out before our entire company right away,” said Budnick.
That not only provides the seller pre-listing marketing capabilities, but also provides prospective buyers with a competitive advantage.
“If you have a buyer and that buyer has needs not found on the market right now, you can go onto the platform, enter data about what the buyer is looking for right down to the fine details and it will scan all the listings that are coming soon to determine any matches,” said Budnick. “It also puts an alert out to the entire company that there is a buyer who has these needs and are there any listings that are coming that match them.”
In the upper-priced tiers, Budnick said the market shifts more toward the buyer, and listing agents adapt marketing strategies toward more conventional methods to appeal to buyers: curb appeal, proper staging, mass marketing, photos and video, etc.
“Conversely, in the upper price tiers, you can find what you are looking for in existing inventory.”
At that price level, agents must employ trending techniques to make the properties stand out. This is particularly true in instances where resales are competing with nearby new construction neighborhoods that offer the latest in grand amenity packages.
To compete, agents must sell the advantages of a pre-owned home. Among them, Realtors will inform clients they can find more upgrades at a lower cost in pre-owned homes than they can in new construction.
And there’s more.
“There are an awful lot of things you get in an existing home, such as no construction noise,” Sherrer said. “You also have a home already outfitted with window coverings, which can be costly; along with mature landscaping and oftentimes an established neighborhood.
“There are selling points to each, but you have to make sure if you are listing a property that is adjacent to new construction that it is staged well and has curb appeal, and those discussions can be difficult with a buyer who thinks their home is perfect just the way it is,” Sherrer said.