4 Strategies for Finding Hidden Listing Inventory | Real Estate University | Real Estate Insider News – Real Estate Coaching and Training

From our friends over on Trulia:

Loads of agents know firsthand that an uptick in buyer activity and some loosening of lending purse-strings can result in a particular flavor of supply-demand imbalance we call “a seller’s market.”  A recent Trulia study proved this market season is just that: 75 percent of surveyed consumers said it’s better to buy a home now than a year from now.

But the same study revealed that there’s also pressure from the other end of the market – only 1 in 3 consumers said it would be better to sell now than a year from now.

These patient would-be sellers have pushed inventory to a 12-year low.

Real estate decisions are highly personal financial, family and lifestyle decisions, so the fact that the market is strongly tilted pro-sellers doesn’t mean that it is the right time for every seller to list their home.  That said, the long-frigid market offers abundant opportunities for agents who want to grow the listing side of their businesses by thawing out the selling, moving and lifestyle design plans so many sellers kept on ice for so long.

Here are a few strategic paths to go down if you want to build your seller-side business in today’s low-inventory market:

1.  Go back to the farm.

Just because something seems like it’s been done to death, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be resurrected – and reinvented – when the situation calls for it.  Farming is one such thing.

It’s been around forever, and that’s probably because it works.  Sure, it takes an investment of smarts, time, energy and money to cultivate a farm, a geographic area on which you focus your marketing activities. But if you do it wisely and consistently, it can also create an annuity of sorts – a long-term account of goodwill, favor and recognition of your name and your brand in the hearts and minds of prospective home sellers in the area(s) of your choosing.

Sellers in a specific area often share the same issues and concerns – and they certainly share the same fortunes when it comes to rising and falling property values.  This creates an opportunity for you to be strategic about choosing a farm, prioritizing areas in which homeowners over the last few years tended to stay put and hold onto their homes, rather than selling at super low distressed market prices.  These are the homeowners who are most amenable to being activated into sellers by smart, data-heavy, consistent farming that:

(a) constantly briefs them on how much homes in their area are now selling for, and

(b) provides them with other market insights as to how they can leverage today’s favorable market dynamics.

Be creative and current when it comes to the tactics you use to execute a farming strategy in this low-inventory market. Today’s farms should be cultivated both digitally and “IRL” (in real life).

Sitting Open Houses and sending out ‘Just Listed,’ ‘Just Sold’ and ‘Market Report’ postcards are all strategies that still work. But you can power-charge your reach by also farming online with Trulia Local Ads, YouTube market reports, and area Facebook pages, as well as by including web addresses (URLs) on your hard copy marketing materials to your Trulia blog, personal website and other online resources for farm-area sellers.

2.  Be where they are.

Never underestimate the power of sitting Open Houses on a regular basis in the areas where you want to be listing homes, even if they’re not your listings.  This old-school strategy costs very little and still works, not only for meeting buyers in the looky-loo stage, but also for meeting the neighbors who might be considering listing their homes.  Go back to basics, expressly inviting the neighbors with paper invitations or via an hour or door-knocking, if you can.

Hosting seminars, workshops and small-scale events at local community centers and coffee shops is another way to get in the right room with the right people. This gives you the opportunity to brief them on the market and showcase both your expertise and your dazzling personality, in one fell swoop.

3.  Double-down on data to prove the opportunity – Then do It again.

When marketing to get listings in a low inventory market, do not neglect to harness the power of data, in every one of your postcards, database newsletters, blog posts and social media activities.  Key metrics to stay on top of on a monthly basis for your hyperlocal areas of expertise include:

  • How many/few homes are on the market (and how inventory levels are trending, relative to what’s normal for the area)

  • How quickly homes are selling (and trends in days on market, or DOM)

  • How far over-asking they are selling for, if your farm’s list price-to-sale price ratio is over 100%

  • How many offers are being received – if you’re in a multiple offer market.

If you’re farming, this data should be the basis of a good portion of your marketing materials.  But if you’re not, there are still dozens of way to use data to show sellers the scope of the opportunity in front of them:

  • Reach out to your own past client and referral database, using the warming market as a great reason to give them a ring and brief them on the state of the market with resources like Trulia’s Housing Barometer.

  • Create a local market blog post or series of posts on Trulia Voices, and keep your Trulia Profile updated with your own listings’ success metrics like homes you’ve sold.

  • Create data-focused articles for local area blogs and local or neighborhood newspapers.

  • Update your own Facebook page with hard stats showcasing the heat of the market, and consider placing geo-targeted ads on Facebook headlined with a single, powerful data point, e.g.: Avg. Sale 10% Over Asking.

Get in the habit of never offering data without adding a layer of your own listings’ success record or your own expert insight on top. This one element can make the difference between activating a seller to list their home and activating a seller to call you to list their home. In fact, some of the most powerful social media “advertising” I’m seeing these days is when agents simply post their own listing success stories on their own Facebook pages.  Cost: $0.

As you start to market to thaw out and reactivate sellers, keep one thing in mind. Prospective sellers have been underwater, upside down and in a general recession fog for years.

They might have to hear that the US real estate market is coming back a dozen times before they realize that this information is applicable to them.  They might have to see data proving that their neighborhood and personal home values are making a comeback another ten times before they draw the conclusion that they might be able to sell.  They might have to be exposed to data showing that YOU are the right agent – or at least one of the agents they should speak with – another seven or ten times before they give you a ring.  And keep in mind that as much junk mail, emails, text messages, phone calls, IMs that people have to sort through, they might have to RECEIVE 20 or 30 well-crafted, strategic, smart messages about your value to them today before they act on one.

4. Stay committed to the process

Marketing to activate would-be sellers is, like virtually all marketing, a numbers game.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.  But don’t get discouraged – stay committed and consistent. Every local market report you send out, every Open House you sit, every Just Listed card you send, every Trulia Local Ad in which you appear contributes to the snowball of messages it will take to move a seller to warm up to the idea that now might be the right time to sell – and that you might just be the right agent to do it.