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How to Successfully Navigate a Listing Shortage

September 14 2021

housing inventoryIn a business where supply and demand can have your stomach in knots, the last thing a real estate agent wants to deal with is a choke point of supply. We have to have an inventory of homes to help our clients sell, buy, and even to test the market at times ("Let's just put it on the market and see what happens").

May 2020 reported an average inventory of available homes at around 4.8 months. Due to the dreadful impact of COVID and the pandemic that gripped the nation with lockdowns, Zoom meetings, and the newfound need to move, that supply dwindled to around 1.9 months by December 2020. There was a severe problem for many real estate agents. There were, however, a certain set of determined folks who were able to make lemonade from lemons, and these are three listing shortage best practices you can also take advantage of (pandemic or not!).

1. Be Proactive

You know the best neighborhoods in your market. You also know what the comps are, and how to take advantage of that information. Don't leave a listing to chance. You never know if someone who isn't currently posting a For Sale sign in their yard has a price in their head they'd be willing to talk about. By proactively reaching out to homeowners, you're a step ahead. By being prepared with specific, curiosity-generating information, and an approach that implies the need for a seller to operate with a sense of urgency, you can quickly find yourself on the inside, looking out.

2. Coddle YOUR Sphere of Influence

We've talked about this before – your SOI is the hands-down best source of free referrals and "ear to the ground" information you're going to have. The very nature of your business model is built around establishing, nurturing, and capitalizing on your relationships. Ensure your SOI is tuned into your business, but in a way that benefits them. That's tricky at times, yes, because your goal is to get listings and sales; their goal is to be as helpful to you as possible without feeling like they're being used. To prevent that from happening, you have to make it worth their while. Understand how the individuals in your SOI like to be rewarded or recognized. I'm speaking specifically about those people who are (or have been) the most impactful in identifying new business and inserting you into new social networks. If an introduction by them of their friend or coworker or whatever to you turns into a sale, the first thing you should do is find an appropriate and thoughtful way to recognize their contribution. Be it a monthly SOI direct mail campaign, a gift card, a big old hug, etc., let them know that without their support, you wouldn't have been successful. In the second quarter of 2021, the medium home price was $374,900. Just 1% of that sales price is more than enough to find an inexpensive and meaningful way to ensure your SOI is the gift that keeps on giving.

3. Think Outside the Box

How many times have you "creatively" described an ugly bathroom, or a cramped kitchen, or a jungle of a back yard? Listings don't have to elusive if you commit to looking in places you might not conventionally have considered. A great option is rental listings. Why? As a great example, in this topsy-turvy job market where homeowners have the ability to swim upstream to a better position and salary, that doesn't always mean they'll be able to continue working from home in their pajamas. And for those folks who need to relocate very quickly, one of their best options is to rent their home for a short period of time before they can concentrate on the full selling process. That works the same for those who quickly need to find a home to rent but aren't necessarily in the position to buy right now.

The listing shortage is far from over. Although it continues to improve each month, consistently staying top of mind each month by sending get listings postcards will make you the first agent they think of. [NOTE: We continue to watch the increase in those contracting the Delta variant of the COVID virus, and any ensuing fallout, thereof, as it relates to inventory volumes.] Successful agents will weather this storm. Successful agents who take note of these best practices (and more) will do even better.