Setting Strategies for a Strong Second Half
This month’s National of Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses the state of the nation’s real estate market amid the pandemic.
John P. Horning, Executive Vice President, Shorewest REALTORS®, Milwaukee, Wis., Special Liaison for Large Firm and Industry Relations, NAR
Jim D’Amico, President/CEO, Century 21 Northeast, Danvers, Mass.
Rei Mesa, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, Sunrise, Fla.
Craig McClelland, Vice President & COO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, Atlanta, Ga.
Nancy Malone, Principal Broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Woodmont Realty, Nashville, Tenn.
John Horning: Bidding wars in the midst of a pandemic. Multiple offers while much of the country is still in some stage of shut down. While many during the down days in March and April expected that pent-up buyer demand would drive a busy late spring market, few could have forecast the frenzied market we find ourselves dealing with today. What exactly is fueling the frenzy? How long will it last? And most important, what strategies are we shaping now to ensure a strong second half?
Jim D’Amico: The name of the game is listings, John, drawing more sellers into the market because there are not enough homes to sell. We’ve been focused on that for months now, as we saw our website traffic ticking up, mostly with buyer interest. We’ve been steadily beefing up our marketing and outreach, doing everything we can to position ourselves as the go-to company for advice and guidance in this tough-to-navigate market.
Rei Mesa: On July 1, we launched a company-wide listing campaign in an effort to bring in more listings, as one of the challenges we face is a lack of inventory. We are looking to overcome this challenge by promoting a safe-listing campaign through the use of technology and safety protocols within our branch offices and among our trusted in-house mortgage, title and insurance partners. We want sellers and buyers to see us as knowledgeable and responsible, while precisely following safety guidelines and getting people moved smoothly and sensibly.
Craig McClelland: Our written business in June was up 24.7 percent over last June, and listings are down 15 percent—so yes, we need to bring sellers in. We’ve got a huge push on “buy before you sell.” Video home tours and 3D floor plans are great aids, especially when a home is vacant, so our aim is to get sellers moved out first, so their homes are best suited for virtual viewing.
Nancy Malone: For us, everything old is new again. Our agents are going back to basics, working their databases, pushing out emails and postcards, making lots of calls. We think those old-fashioned tactics supported by all this fabulous technology is what will bring more sellers off the sidelines. The message is simple: You’ll get your best price. Cash offers are commonplace. The time to sell is now.
JH: The second half of the equation, though, is getting buyer offers accepted in this multiple offer environment. We had 31 offers on one property last weekend, and 30 unhappy competitors. How do we help a buyer stand out?
CM: There are plenty of programs around to make buying easier even for first-timers, although in most cases, especially in the mid-price market, the winning buyer will be paying more than the list price. Escalation clauses are good to a certain point—and so is having no contingency. That’s why we pull out all the stops to get the buyer’s home sold first.
NM: Agents need to be on top of the market, equipped to alert their buyers early when a new home becomes available. We like Video Bomb—a new app our franchise has partnered with. Agents can use it to check out a new listing when they are out driving the neighborhoods. When they see a new For Sale sign, they can scan the QR code and help a buyer jump right on it.
JH: Handwritten notes and seasonal gifts are also back-to-basics tactics that work. Sent to homes, along with supporting data on all the reasons why this is a great time to sell. The fact is people are paying attention, buyers and sellers both. They are more than ever interested in what’s happening in their market.
JD: Nobody knows what’s coming tomorrow, but right now we’ve got strong buyers, some of them willing to buy sight unseen—and sellers are getting top dollar. Agents need to mix it up and keep trying different approaches to reach the largest number of sellers—creative marketing, effective use of technology, expanding their databases and reaching out to everyone they know.
RM: With today’s historic low interest rates and pent-up demand from the “stay-at-home” orders, it is an exceptional time for sellers to put their properties on the market.
CM: We’ve got a situation here, no question about it, and an opportunity to finish the year even stronger than a year ago. It’s a time to be inspired, inventive, resourceful. As the saying goes, if you can’t be part of the solution, get out of the way.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.