Looking to Better Serve Your Clients? Try These Simple Strategies.
Feb 27, 2023 | Realtor Resources | Share:
The winter months are typically a little slower for realtors, but that hasn’t been the case these past few years. Lower-than-ever interest rates and limited inventory have had realtors running at breakneck speed since late 2020.
Now, with higher interest rates, the housing market is experiencing a more typical winter slowdown that is giving realtors a chance to catch their breath. And this is the perfect time to recharge and retool before the market heats up again.
Birmingham-area realtor David Mackle is sharing his advice for realtors who want to take advantage of this slower season to improve their customer service in 2023.
Don't Despair About the Current Housing Market
Although the housing market has slowed down some this winter, that isn’t a reason for realtors to panic. David Mackle says, “The housing market typically has a slower season in the winter, followed by an increase in activity as the weather warms up before peaking in July or August. At that point, there’s usually a pause where the market settles back out. These seasons of activity are predictable and normal, but we just haven’t seen this in the past few years.”
Newer realtors may have never experienced a typical market year, so it’s especially important that these realtors stay calm. Mackle explains, “We're already starting to see an increase in activity this year. While it may not be as crazy as it was in 2021 and 2022, signs are pointing to another hectic spring."
Mackle cautions agents against seeing this market slowdown as bad news. “In the current market, there’s less competition from investors. This is great news, especially for first-time homebuyers who were squeezed out of the market by cash offers from investors.”
The current market also leaves room for negotiating sales. “You’re not usually going to be able to negotiate with a home that’s only been on the market for a few days. But if a home stays on the market a little longer, realtors are going to have more opportunities for traditional negotiating. This is all good news for homebuyers,” Mackle explains.
Return to Traditional Marketing Practices
Many newer agents may have never experienced a house that doesn’t sell; for the past couple of years, houses have practically sold themselves. Mackle says, “Houses that would have sold instantly last April may now sit on the market a little longer. There are many possible reasons why that might happen, and every listing is different. But there are several simple actions you can take to serve your clients better and help them sell at a great price.
Host Open Houses
While open houses didn’t completely disappear during the past couple of years, they weren’t always necessary to sell a property. But an open house is a great opportunity to showcase a home. An open house can also boost exposure and allow you to have several showings in a short period of time.
An open house also provides the opportunity to get quick feedback on the property, which can be particularly valuable if the home doesn’t sell immediately. Mackle says, “If you haven’t been doing open houses, now might be a good time to use that as an option with lingering listings.”
Take Pictures of Your Listing
In the past couple of years, pictureless listings have become more commonplace. “Agents have felt like there is no point in spending money on photos if a house was going to get thirty showings and a dozen great offers in the first day or two on the market,” Mackle explains.
But photos are always a good investment. “Great pictures of a great property do nothing but help maximize the value of the home,” he continues.
Make Repairs and Maintain the Listing
Because the previous market was so competitive, repairs and upgrades weren’t always necessary to ensure that a home would sell. And while not every home needs repairs and not every issue needs to be fixed before listing a home, certain repairs or upgrades can truly increase the value of the property.
“If something is clearly broken, now is the time to fix it. And while you don’t want your client to make unnecessary upgrades, certain changes are almost always a wise investment with great returns,” Mackle says. “For example, painting cherry wood cabinets a neutral white will cost money, but sellers will typically get every penny of that investment back.”
If the home stays on the market longer than a week or so, agents also need to be sure that the listing is maintained for future showings. Ensure that the yard, exterior, and inside of the home stays ready for showings.
Call for Feedback
If a home doesn’t sell quickly, agents can always call other agents for feedback on the listing. “When you list a home, you’re making your best professional guess at what the home needs - from pricing to repairs. But other realtors can have a great perspective and can help you see something you may have missed,” Mackle explains.
Agents will often have consistent feedback that can inform your next steps. But to get that feedback, you have to take the first step. Take the time to call other agents, check in, and have these conversations. “While every buyer and agent is different, you’ll often hear similar responses: there may be an aspect of the house that was a turnoff (such as dated carpet), or you may hear that they feel the home is overpriced.” It never hurts to ask other agents for their thoughts on your listing.
If you are calling other agents for feedback, you’ll probably have a clear idea of what might be holding people back from making an offer. “In a more traditional market, you may need to reassess the price or condition of your listing. When you get feedback, respond to it. Go back to your clients and evaluate your next steps,” Mackle says.
You may also need to respond to the market. “Monitor what’s going on with comps. Did the house down the street sell in a day, or did it take more than a month? You may need to adjust your approach to better position your listing for a sale.”
Set Appropriate Expectations
Expectation management is key, no matter who you’re representing. Mackle says, “Sellers may have seen a neighbor sell their home for a high price last year. We need to be upfront and honest about current market realities: they may not sell their home for that same price, and they are unlikely to get multiple cash offers over asking price the day they list their home.”
He also says that agents representing buyers also have an important role to play in managing expectations. “Although interest rates have been going down since November, it’s unlikely that rates will get back down in the 3% range any time soon. But right now, buyers are positioned well with a little more choice and a little less chaos. If the rates go back down under 6%, there may be another surge.” It can be helpful to remind buyers that they can always refinance if the rates go down in the future.
Take Care of Your Customers
No matter what you do, it’s essential to treat people well and earn their trust. “Whether you’re representing a buyer or a seller, you have to work hard to earn the trust of your clients. Always have their best interests at heart. Return their phone calls. Advocate for them. Protect them and be honest with them. Your client needs to know that you have their back throughout the entire buying or selling process,” Mackle emphasizes.
You also need to take a custom approach for every client and every listing. Even if you’ve worked with a client in the past, you need to evaluate their current needs, priorities, and goals. “Every client and listing is different. To really serve your clients well, you need to listen to what they need and be responsive to those needs,” he says.
Although it may be tempting to turn to quick fixes to try to stand out or jolt your business forward, Mackle says that the key is to play the long game. “Treat people well with honesty and transparency. Over time, repeat business and referrals will come. If you take care of your clients and do your job well, you’re going to experience success. The next few years may be a little slower, but you will never regret investing in people.”
Regardless of the housing market, realtors can always look for ways to better serve their clients. And South Oak loves to partner with realtors throughout the Southeast, whether it’s through providing continuing education or by supporting them at the closing table.
Birmingham-based realtor David Mackle is an expert at combining his knowledge and love for the Magic City to help individuals and families buy and sell homes. He has reached numerous sales achievements and was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Birmingham in 2022 in sales volume. Mackle also specializes in working with medical residents at UAB hospital and is one of only a handful of Certified DRS Agents in Alabama. David lives in Inverness with his wife, Holly, and his two daughters.