This post was previously published in the January/February 2016 issue of REALTOR® magazine.
If you’re in a market where the number of homes for sale remains stubbornly low, you could try to convert more owners into sellers. But whether your goal is to land more listings or expand options for your buyers, you have to be thoughtful and sensitive when approaching owners about putting their home on the market.
Engaging with owners can be tricky because chances are they’re not in the selling frame of mind and won’t be responsive to a full-on sales pitch. The key is to take an educational approach, teaching home owners about current favorable market conditions rather than asking them to sell, says Karina Eskandary, a sales associate with Homelife/Bayview Realty in Toronto. “If owners are thinking of selling in a few years, hearing that home prices are high right now sometimes makes them speed up the process and start earlier,” she adds.
Sometimes the biggest objections stem from anxiety about the prospect of moving. “By asking the right questions, you can uncover their true priorities as well as address their fears early in the process,” says Joel Doyle, a sales associate with Keller Williams Realty in Atlanta. To give owners an idea of how he can help them, Doyle shares his past experiences helping clients transition from one home to another, sharing the contractors and moving companies he works with. “By referring back to my experience, I can offer assurance that I have the skill to handle any issues that may arise and will provide proper guidance that will allow people to land on their feet.”
Ready to connect with future sellers? Here are approaches that highlight seller benefits.
1.) Launch a Media Campaign
Door knocking is a tried-and-true tactic in the industry, but it can take considerable time and yield few results by itself. Melissa Zavala, broker-owner of Broadpoint Properties in Escondido, Calif., takes a multipronged approach to informing home owners of the inventory shortage in her area. She uses a direct-mail campaign with relevant statistics that directs recipients back to her company’s website where they’ll find infographics and other information on market values. Zavala also produces hyperlocal blog posts around the topic of selling, which may reach another segment of home owners.
“An impressive Internet presence and helpful, free information of value seems to be the best way to have a realistic and meaningful conversation with [prospective] sellers,” Zavala says. Giving home owners multiple ways of receiving your message helps build trust and puts you top of mind. You might also try presenting at established community events where you can reach a broader audience.
2.) Show Them a Buyer
If your buyers are struggling to find a property, you might be able to open up more options by showing current owners that you have clients looking for homes like theirs. “Find the neighborhood, beds, baths, and current price range that your buyer wants; then pull your list of sold transactions in your target area in the last 10 years,” suggests Steven Clarke, a sales associate with Keller Williams Realty in Charleston, S.C.
When you approach these home owners, tell them your buyer’s story to humanize the pitch. Showing them that a potential buyer is waiting in the wings is valuable leverage for shifting the selling conversation from hypothetical to real, Clarke adds. It can also demonstrate to home owners that market conditions and demand are strong in their area—“not simply with an online lead but a prequalified buyer with strict specifications for their ideal home,” he says.
3.) Use Recent Deals to Generate Interest
If you’re in a hot market and just closed a deal that attracted multiple offers, tell the neighbors, Eskandary says. This will convey important information: The area is in demand, and a pool of buyers is actively looking.
“One time in particular, it had a snowball effect,” Eskandary says. After she spoke to the neighbors about a listing she got multiple bids on, “two home owners ended up wanting to sell on that street,” she recalls. She later listed and sold one of the homes. No matter where home owners are in their mind about selling, “most people are interested in real estate and always want to know what their property is worth or what their neighbor’s house sold for,” Eskandary says.
Talking with home owners, who are often emotionally attached to the place they live, about selling might seem like an uncomfortable conversation, but it all hinges on your approach. If your emphasis is on educating rather than convincing, you’ll be less likely to come across as a pushy salesperson. And in this seller’s market, if you help initially reluctant home owners sell at their asking price, they may even thank you with future business.