The 2021 real estate market is off to a challenging start for buyers, but it’s more than thrilling for sellers. Extremely low inventory, mega multiple offers and homes being absorbed the moment they come on the market make it tough for buyers to have success.
On the other hand, many sellers are simply overwhelmed by the number of offers they are receiving. Trying to sift through them all to determine which ones have the best chance of getting to closing can be daunting.
Frenetic markets often lead to frenetic decisions, particularly from buyers who might be throwing multiple darts as quickly as possible with the hopes of something sticking. Oftentimes, rushed decisions lead to cold feet and properties returning to the market after inspections, regardless of whether inspectors found major or minor issues.
Appraisals that are nowhere near the contract sales price might also derail the deal for those buyers who were fortunate enough not to have to waive their appraisal contingency in the first place.
Would-be sellers are hesitant to sell their property due to uncertainty about where they might go next. Given all of the craziness of current market conditions, what should buyers and sellers expect from agents this year?
1. Laser focus
Selling real estate in this market is like flying a plane through perpetually turbulent weather. The pilots must focus and closely watch weather patterns as things can rapidly change. Agents cannot be on autopilot in the current environment. The market is running extremely fast, and it’s not enough to check hot sheets once a day to stay plugged in.
Clients should expect their agents to hover over their respective markets in all aspects; not only for new inventory but also closely tracking properties that are back on the market, price reductions and recently closed sales as those will have an impact on future values as well as those transactions where appraisal contingencies are still being accepted.
Buyers also need their agents to hover over new construction options and make sure they are on every possible interest list so they have a chance to get in on the action if they chose. Most builders have completely changed the way they are selling new homes.
No longer can an agent simply schedule an appointment with the site agent to go over available inventory. There might not be any inventory, or it might be made selectively available, which translates into a limited number of sales each month, waiting lists, lotteries and “highest and best” offers on homesites.
In short, clients should expect their agent to be a sponge of information, absorbing it 24/7/365 so they can translate this knowledge to their client’s advantage, no matter whether they are buying or selling.
2. Intense market knowledge
In inventory-thin markets, relying on the MLS is simply not enough. Clients should expect their agents to be extremely “dialed in” and able to leverage their networks to find properties that are not on the publicly advertised market available for sale.
This means agents must know which other agents to contact and reach out to their own spheres of influence and those who live in the communities where their clients desire to live. They should know how to reverse engineer their networking and think outside of the box to uncover potential opportunities.
This might mean digging through old expired and withdrawn listings and rentals and hitting up out-of-area owners to see if they might be interested in selling. They should also contact every agent who sold a home (whether previously on the listing or selling side) in neighborhoods where their clients are looking to see if any of these prior sales yield a potential homeowner who might be interested in selling.
Furthermore, clients should expect their agents to have strong relationships with other agents and transaction-related vendors, including appraisers, inspectors, contractors, designers, stagers, mortgage lenders, title and escrow professionals, and real estate-related attorneys to help solve problems and move things to sold.
Today’s agents need to have a powerhouse roster in their phone that can help connect their clients to the people and resources to tackle the challenges at hand.
3. Ludicrous speed and tech-savvy
Yes. The agents serving clients in 2021 should have the tools, technology, and platforms to transact at the speed of light. They need to know how to automate and quickly execute an offer for sale or listing agreement on the fly.
Whatever devices agents utilize to make that happen should be on them at all times. Furthermore, they need to know how to deploy various tools to keep their clients well informed and connected as to what is happening, the moment that it does.
Agents need to be able to respond to client inquiries extremely fast today as the market doesn’t wait, and neither will they. Hence, agents need to ensure they have methods and means to respond wherever they may be easily. Autoresponders are out.
4. High-level organization
Today, clients should expect their agents to be extremely well organized. This means they should be able to quickly put their finger on the information needed or be well versed on who to contact to do so. They should manage and organize large amounts of information or have the appropriate support systems in place to do so.
Today’s buyers and sellers don’t want to work with disorganized agents who ask for the same information several times or can’t remember where the email with critical information went.
5. Negotiation and problem-solving expertise
People hire a real estate agent to solve a problem or many of them. The entire real estate transaction is usually about tackling one or more challenges. Negotiations involve finding a way to put the pieces of a puzzle between buyers and sellers together and make the impossible possible.
Clients should absolutely expect that any agents they work with today are skilled at problem-solving and have the available resources to resolve any issues that arise.
In today’s climate, negotiations can be fast-paced and complicated. Whether buying or selling, consumers should expect their agents to know how to craft an offer that will get serious consideration. They should understand how to present an offer package that is organized, compelling and easy for the listing agent and sellers to understand.
Today’s buyers should expect their agents to know how to pull out all the stops in a competitive-offer situation and effectively strategize approaches and tactics that will have the best success.
They should also coach their clients on when to walk away or shift the buyer’s leverage by withdrawing the offer rather than letting it play out, depending on the scenario at hand.
Sellers should expect their agents to leverage the current market to create a tremendous amount of interest and attention in a concise period of time. As such, they need to navigate a faced-paced situation with a lot happening at the same time.
Numerous showings and multiple offers are the new normal in many markets across the country. Sellers should expect their agents to evaluate, vet and summarize offers received to help them carefully determine which have the best chance of reaching the finish line.
They should understand contracts and addendums like the back of their hand and know how to effectively communicate counteroffers and tighten any potential loopholes or ambiguous areas when finalizing a contract.
Also, consumers should expect their agents to anticipate potential issues and educate them about possible risks, pitfalls and solutions for moving through these situations as they arise.
Despite all of the hype in today’s market, clients should expect their agents to be honest and transparent in all things. They need to paint a realistic picture for both the buyers and sellers about how best to navigate the market and not overpromise and underdeliver.
This is especially the case with today’s pie-in-the-sky pricing that continues to go through the roof.
While properties are defying the odds with asking prices as each new listing seems to push higher than the last sales price in the same neighborhood, agents owe it to their sellers to educate them about the risks of a rapidly appreciating market.
Buyers who are under immense pressure to pull the trigger on a home that meets their needs might also be doing so on multiple properties to see what sticks. The winning bidder might also get cold feet and decide not to proceed after a few days into the transaction or after the inspection.
If the buyer pool for the property is obtaining mortgages, buyers’ willingness to pay well over asking price may not mean much if they can’t waive their appraisal contingency and if other interested buyers can’t either.
Conversely, buyers need to be given a realistic picture of what they might be up against with their property search. They might need to significantly compromise on location or condition to be able to buy a property. Buyers should expect their agents to be straight shooters about how many offers it might take to get one accepted.
They should also expect their agents to give them an idea of how many offers they could be competing with in the price range and areas in which they are interested.
Buyers should also expect their agents to educate them on market data as they conduct their search process so they can adjust accordingly. Lastly, buyers should expect their agents not to hold back when they ask them how to craft an offer that could get serious consideration over others and have a strong chance of getting accepted.
7. Emotional intelligence
Today’s agents need to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Although this concept is nothing new, this skill set is critical given today’s complex and fast-moving market conditions. Agents must know how to be the center of calm in chaotic and stress-ridden situations.
The stakes are high, snap decisions must often be made, and buyers are feeling an immense amount of pressure to put it all on the line with no guarantee that their offer will get accepted.
Buyers must function on a heightened state of alert, hovering over every new listing that could remotely work for them. They must decide whether to make an offer that often financially stretches themselves beyond their comfort level. All of this can be exhausting and completely defeating at the same time.
Frazzled clients want to look to their agents to be the guiding force amid uncertain situations while exuding empathy for what they are going through. They don’t want an agent who functions as an unemotional robot that conveys a sense of annoyance or arrogance about whatever the situation is at hand, whether that agent is writing their first or 21st offer on behalf of the client.
Lastly, amongst numerous traits clients should expect from their agents is leadership. Buyers and sellers want to work with agents who are leaders in their industry and exemplary in every way.
Agents should be masters of their craft and exude confidence, enthusiasm and knowledge in what they do every day.
Whether they recognize it, clients want their agent to enlighten, inform and educate them in ways they cannot get from the internet or friends’ and family’s armchair advice.
They desire unique perspectives and insight that will give them a competitive edge and a unique angle when it comes to buying and selling.