March of 2020 saw the new spring market grind to a halt as COVID-related shutdowns and fear swept the country. Subsequently, real estate agents and brokers developed new and innovative ways to serve clients in the process of buying and selling their homes, paving the way for one of the most active and extended market recoveries in recent memory.
Now, as the 2021 spring market gears up, it’s a good time to think through your preparations to ensure that you are ready for what lies ahead. In many areas, activity really never slowed down, so spring seems like an extension of 2020. In other markets, there has been a clear holiday lull, but eager buyers are ready to get back out there and restart the search for their dream homes.
As you prepare, here are the things you need to know to make the most of what promises to be an exciting spring selling season.
The adoption of new platforms and processes allowed real estate professionals to continue to serve their clients throughout the darkest days of the pandemic. For many clients, there is still an expectation that virtual tours and contact-free transaction management will be widely available.
While some markets have seen successful vaccine rollouts, others are still limited in the amount of contact they’re allowed. Make sure you are making the most of your online and mobile platforms to simplify and streamline transactions and provide optimal client service.
Low home inventory continues
While some homeowners are motivated by rising home values in their area, others who are looking to sell and then buy are holding on to their current homes and waiting for a more buyer-friendly market. This is a good time to explore new home communities as an option for hopeful buyers while you ramp up your geographic farming to identify potential sellers in your area.
If you have been more focused on buyer marketing, this is a good time to reach out to sellers as well. You may want to update your website copy and social media platforms to acknowledge the current market realities and how you are positioned to meet client challenges. In addition, you may want to market your expertise in a particular niche to make your messaging more targeted and effective.
Focus on underserved markets
If downtown areas in your market have taken a beating or multifamily condominium and co-op developments have seen a mass exodus, these may be exactly the areas you need to focus on. As frustrated buyers give up on finding homes in the suburbs, they may be looking for opportunities to purchase elsewhere. Also, as vaccines take effect, many areas that have been struggling may be in demand again.
Many buyers have hit a wall with scores of rejected offers and the frustration that comes with dashed hopes. In addition, sellers may be reluctant to negotiate even minor points in the face of multiple offers over asking price. Hone your negotiation skills through a program like NAR’s Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) certification to enhance your reputation and improve your track record.
Upgrade offer presentations
This is no time to send a messy handwritten offer in random order to a listing agent who is fielding multiple offers. Make sure that your paperwork is attractively presented with the most important information upfront. Include the highlights of the offer in the email, and don’t forget to attach all the required supporting documents. While buyer letters have gone out of fashion in some areas, they may be a great idea in the current, highly competitive environment.
Everything has to move fast in a hot market and you don’t always have time to wait for your favorite lender, home inspector, or closing officer to call you back. Have a backup service provider for every aspect of the home sale or purchase process. That way, if you need to engage someone quickly, you’ll always have a variety of colleagues to choose from.
Prepare for another extended season
In many areas, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be widely available until summer. With interest rates continuing to stay low, record-high home prices in many markets, and a steady stream of disappointed home buyers left over from 2020, as well as this year’s spring market, we may see another longer than usual real estate season. Continue to market past spring with the expectation that inventory will start to rise as homeowners become more confident in their ability to find their next home.
Record high home prices have resulted in record levels of equity for the nation’s homeowners. If they are not currently ready to sell, reach out to homeowners in your sphere to discuss updated home valuations and value-added home improvements that can set them up for a successful sale down the road. By keeping up with their long-term plans and goals, you’ll be better positioned to serve them when they are ready to list with you.
The spring market is always an exciting time for real estate agents, and this one promises to be more exciting than most. Ensure more successful outcomes by being proactive and creating systems and processes to streamline marketing, communication, and operations. Don’t put off improvements, training, and new initiatives. The better you use this time, the more prepared you’ll be for the challenges and opportunities waiting for you this spring and beyond.