If you spend any time on Realtor Facebook groups like Lab Coat Agents these days, you will hear the same complaint again and again: “I have tons of buyers but no homes for them!” Well, join the club! Inventory here in Colorado is tighter than it has ever been and homes sell the first weekend they’re listed. It’s enough to make any buyer agent want to throw in the towel.
Here on the EmpowerHome Team, giving up is not an option. Our persistence and strategy led to more than $1 billion in sales in 2021 and we’re on track to hit our goal of closing a thousand buyers in 2022. Our agents use a 10-step search plan to find homes for their desperate buyers. I’m sharing our property search plan with you because I want each and every one of you to succeed.
1. Kick Off Team Meetings With an Internal ‘Wants & Needs’ List
Our first step to finding homes to show desperate buyers is to post to our internal “Wants and Needs” list. This is a private Facebook group for our team and brokerage where agents list what their buyers are looking for in a home.
To cast as wide a net as possible, we also review our clients’ “wants and needs” at our weekly team meetings. This helps keep our buyers’ needs top of mind for listing agents. The minute a new listing comes in, our listing agents will already have showings lined up from the list.
If we can match a new listing with a buyer from our “wants and needs” list, we call this a “Love Connection”! We don’t stop there, though. If a connection isn’t made through our brokerage and team, we reach out to other agents in our network.
I also did a write-up on how Sarah Reynolds and EMPOWERHOME are protecting the value of the Realtor on Inman. Read the article here.
2. Contact Top Listing Agents From Other Brokerages
This technique is great for buyers who have a home to sell or a low down payment. The secret is to get access to homes before there is a lot of competition for them through the MLS.
To do this, we begin by looking up the top agents in the specific neighborhoods that our buyers wish to live in. We often don’t know who is selling the most homes in any given area, so we train our buyers’ agents to search the MLS for properties sold over the past six to 12 months.
Then they sort the list by the listing agent’s name. This will consolidate the names and show who has sold multiple properties in the area. With this information in hand, they can contact the listing agents who have sold multiple properties in the area, and ask them if they have any upcoming listings that may fit our buyer’s criteria.
Agents who are neighborhood specialists typically have sellers who would sell their home if they got an offer they can’t refuse, as well as other homesellers who are preparing their home to sell it in the next few months.
The goal is to make their seller client an unbeatable offer even before they’ve signed a listing agreement. This technique works wonders for buyers with contingencies and special circumstances. In fact, I have bought two houses this way myself!
3. Prospect OLD Expireds, Not New Expireds!
Our team’s next step is to search for expired listings and homes that have been withdrawn from the market. Even in today’s low inventory market, some listings don’t sell the first time around.
Start by searching your MLS for expired homes over the past three years. Many older expired listings are from sellers who were not able to get the price they wanted. Prices have risen so much over the past year that the unrealistic price they were asking two years ago probably isn’t so unrealistic today!
If a listing has recently expired or has been withdrawn, contact the listing agent and ask them if they know if the property is coming back on the market.
For older expireds, go ahead and call them yourself. The good news is that homeowners of older expired listings aren’t receiving the 20 calls a day from desperate real estate agents that are typical for newly expired listings. Therefore, they are more likely to answer the phone and they are much more pleasant to talk to.
The 26 Best Expired Listing Scripts + Objection Handlers
BONUS TIP: Use Artificial Intelligence to Find Homeowners Who Are Getting Ready to Sell
When you want to find homes for desperate buyers, human intelligence is great, but artificial intelligence is better. Why? That’s simple. Platforms like SmartZip use artificial intelligence to instantly sift through hundreds of data points on the internet and your MLS with one goal: to find homeowners who are getting ready to sell—before they contact their first agent.
Even if you don’t find “the one” for your buyers with SmartZip, you can be the first agent to contact homeowners who are likely to sell in the next year. ZIP codes are limited and going fast, so if you want to unleash the power of artificial intelligence, check if your ZIP code is available here:
4. Write Backup Offers With a Backup Clause Written by an Attorney
In today’s market, you have to be proactive, creative, and BOLD to find your buyers a home. If your buyers love a neighborhood or home, don’t be afraid to write a backup offer on homes that are already pending.
Bidding wars can drive the price so high that the winning buyer may feel they overpaid and subsequently get buyer’s remorse. Due to this, we are seeing a higher number of contracts terminate shortly after the contract is ratified than we have in the past. This is why we coach our buyers’ agents to encourage their clients to submit backup offers on hot properties.
To protect our buyers and give them the ability to keep shopping, we have a strong backup clause, written by an attorney, that allows their client to terminate the contract prior to going into first position. This technique works well with homebuilders and fix and flips too!
9 Proven Strategies to Find Hidden Listing Inventory
5. Start Door Knocking With Your Rejected Offers (+ Script)
If you have been working with your buyer for more than a few weeks, chances are you have already made—and lost out on—at least a few offers. This can feel devastating to you and your client. Luckily, there’s a way to turn that rainy day into a glorious win—prospect around your recent offers!
After you dust yourself off and collect your thoughts, print out the offer your clients just made and start door knocking the neighborhood for other potential sellers who may be considering a move in the near future.
With your (redacted) offer in hand, go door-to-door and tell the neighbors that you have a motivated buyer who just made an offer and lost out on the home down the street. Let them know your buyer loves the style of homes and the neighborhood, and that they are set on living in the area.
Rejected Offers Door Knocking Script
When they answer the door, you will say:
Hello, my name is [Name] with [Company] and my client made an offer on the property down the street.
[Point in the direction of the home and hold up the previous offer.]
My client lost out on that home to a higher bidder, but they love this neighborhood and the style of homes here. Have you heard of any neighbors who may be thinking of moving in the near future?
[Pause for their answer, then ask:]
Are you considering selling while the market is HOT…HOT…HOT!
Do this and you will be surprised how well-received this approach will be. Many neighbors who love their community will want to help you find a home for your buyer client.
Door Knocking for Real Estate: Does It Still Work? (+ Tips & Scripts)
6. Trade Your Buyer’s Contingent Property With a Flip
One of the biggest challenges our buyers’ agents face is finding a home for a contingent buyer. These are buyers who have to sell a home before they can buy. This becomes even more challenging when the home they need to sell is in dire need of repair.
This was exactly the case for one of my seller clients last fall. They had a home in a desirable area but it hadn’t been updated in more than 20 years. They wanted to find a home in the same area that offered more bedrooms and was already completely remodeled.
Since the homes in the area were built in the ’60s and ’70s, my strategy was to find them a recently flipped home. Using the seller’s home as bait, I contacted the fix and flippers in the area and asked them if they were looking for a new fix-and-flip project in the area.
Hungry for inventory, several flippers expressed interest in my seller’s home. I told them that in order for them to be able to buy my client’s home, they had to sell my client another home that they had coming on the market. It took a little legwork, but in the end, we were able to negotiate the purchase of newly remodeled home with the caveat that the flipper would buy their home at a fair price. A true WIN-WIN!
7. Prospect FSBO Listings
The buyers’ agents on the EmpowerHome Team are expected to do the unthinkable … call FSBOs! If you have been selling real estate for more than a few months, you may have also found that these sellers are always reasonable, generous, and a pleasure to work with.
OK, OK, so that may not be true all the time, but when you contact FSBOs, you will discover that most agents ignore them. They think these homeowners have no interest in listing their home with an agent.
The truth is, they are happy to offer a commission to an agent who has a bona fide buyer for their home. That could be your buyer, but you’ll never know until you pick up the phone and start cold calling homeowners who have listed their own home for sale.
The 9 Best FSBO Scripts (+ Why They Work)
8. Prospect Rental & Short-term Rental Ads
Calling the “Home for Rent” and Short-term Rental ads is a great way to find homes for your desperate buyers. Why? Because many investors may be interested in selling in this hot market. With interest rates rising and economic uncertainty everywhere, some investors might be looking to cash out at what they think is the top of the market.
As a real estate investor myself, I would be interested in selling … if I didn’t have to go through the effort of getting a rented house ready for market. Getting a house “for sale ready” is different than getting a home “rent ready.”
A “rent ready” home may have white semi-gloss paint, matching trim, and a neutral gray carpet. To get a home “for sale ready” requires nicer features like gray walls with a bright white trim and doors, and nice laminate flooring. Many landlords don’t want to take the chance on updating a property to make it “for sale ready” only to find they didn’t get the price they wanted.
What investors may not realize is that many buyers in this low inventory market are willing to pay nearly the same amount for properties that haven’t been updated as the recently renovated competition. This makes now an outstanding time for an investor to unload some inventory without having to invest the time and money to update their property.
On our team, buyers’ agents call the for rent, VRBO, and Airbnb advertisements to see if an investor is ready to sell. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to coach the buyer to reconsider some of the diamonds in the rough. Worst case scenario, you will have conversations with local rental property owners that might lead to future business.
9. Coach Your Clients to Consider Aged Listings
If we haven’t found a home that matches our buyers’ needs at this stage, agents on our team still don’t give up. They then coach their clients to reconsider the aged listings (listings that have been for sale for longer than seven days).
These homes may not be priced as well—or they may even be a little overpriced for the condition—but with a little coaxing, you may get the seller to come down a few dollars.
Of course, your buyer may have to wait a few more years for the Instagram-perfect kitchen or yard, but they will be able to stop paying rent and start building equity—and that’s what’s important, isn’t it?
If you don’t have your hopeful buyer in a house after all this, it’s time to look in other areas.
10. Take Your Buyers on ‘Turf Tours’ of Other Neighborhoods
While I’m sure this idea has already crossed your mind, you may not have had much success getting a stubborn buyer to look into other areas. Well, I’d like to help you with that! Buyers tend to buy in locations with which they are most familiar. They might want to be close to work, schools, or shopping, or may be trying to invest in an up-and-coming trendy neighborhood.
This can be difficult if the area they want is priced far above their budget. Some buyers will tell you they would rather rent than to consider moving outside their comfort zone. This can be a huge mistake since homeownership is what is going to help them build enough equity to afford to live in their desired neighborhood someday.
If they say they want to live in a specific area because of the recreation and lifestyle, then consult them on how they can have a similar lifestyle in another location that is more affordable.
To get clients to consider new areas, our team conducts “Turf Tours.” First, we ask them to take a ride with us. (Yes, in the same car!) We say, “I have an area I would like to show you. I just have one condition. You can’t ask me where it is until we have already seen the area and some homes.”
Curious, they will usually agree. To be successful at this, you must remember that you are a consultant, not an order taker. The clients tell you what they want to achieve and why they want to achieve it. Your role is to serve as a consultant who guides them toward reaching their goals.
This is our strategy for finding homes for buyers in today’s market. Our goal on the EmpowerHome Team is to serve over 1,000 buyers in 2022. To achieve this, we know we MUST leave no stone unturned when searching for homes. We hope you will do the same. Please share tactics that have worked for you and your team in the comments.