Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Give clients an edge in a competitive market — without undue risk

It’s been a busy year for real estate, with soaring demand for even the most high-end homes. The challenge for agents is to elevate their clients above the crowd in today’s fast-paced marketplace.

No matter whether you’re representing buyers or sellers—or who the market is currently catering to—there are strategies luxury agents can deploy to help shine a light on their listings or offers. This is as true in my market of Los Angeles as it is anywhere in the world.

The question is, how can you help your buyers and sellers seize a competitive advantage in a winner-take-all market, while still playing it safe and minimizing risks? Here are my personal recommendations.

Buyers: be pleasant, but not a pushover

Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage

Every real estate transaction has an emotional component, and this is one area where buyers have an advantage. I always encourage my clients to present themselves as the type of person the seller wants to entrust their former home to. The goal is to make the seller feel good about selling their home—specifically, to my buyer.

Bearing that in mind, here are five pieces of advice that I give my buyers to help them stand out as much as possible:

  1. Be kind, congenial, and complimentary
  2. Always, always have a sense of humor
  3. Never come across as high-maintenance
  4. Express genuine gratitude to the seller
  5. Don’t be late when submitting your offer

One last thing I tell my buyers when competition is fierce and stress levels are high: it’s so important to take a deep breath, step back, and remember that there’s more than one glamorous way to go when buying a home.

I have clients who were outbid in Los Angeles, bought a successful vacation rental in the California desert, and are now in a position to revisit buying a home in LA. Flexibility is key because you never know where the journey will lead you.

When to bargain, when to walk

There are certain concessions that I’m comfortable encouraging my buyer to make, especially if they want their bid to stand out amid a saturated market. We can propose an abbreviated inspection period, for example, to help show their commitment to the property while reducing inconvenience to the seller. Another great way to win the deal is to guarantee zero requests for repairs.

However, under no circumstances would I recommend my buyer waive their right to an inspection. That is one bargaining tactic I never willingly use. In a hectic market, it’s extremely easy to be swept up in the competitive frenzy and make a bold move, but no agent wants to be on the wrong side of a disappointed buyer.

This is where strong collaboration with the listing agent comes in. Helping negotiate a two- or three-day inspection period ensures your buyer can do their due diligence, while still allowing the listing agent to enter escrow with a backup offer and not lose momentum in the event your buyer changes their mind.

Sellers: make it memorable, and keep demand high

Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage

Two words for my sellers: be cool. When sellers are too eager, it raises red flags—“Why are they so desperate to divest themselves of this home?” Buyers will also spook easily if a seller comes across as temperamental.

So in a buyer’s market, where properties are ripe for the picking and people can choose at their leisure, what will draw them to your seller’s listing? My advice is to showcase the lifestyle. Create an aesthetic or an experience that will stand out in their minds, and make them appreciate what life could be like if this home was theirs:

Exhibit fun, creative uses of space, like a wine cellar under the staircase or an office built into a closet, as these are details that stick with people.

Declutter and stage the home, but leave room for liveliness—for example, have a lawn game in the yard.

Although it may seem inconvenient for the seller, if it’s a competitive buyer’s market I advise my clients to allow me to keep showing their home even when they have an offer. Having backup offers is a major advantage while you wait until all contingencies are released.

A lineup of potential competitors provides peace of mind to your seller and limits the urge for the current buyer to make outrageous demands or draw out an escrow.

Agents: empower clients with optimism and realism

It’s best to manage expectations up front by advising clients that the journey they are about to embark on, while exciting, doesn’t always include good news. But show them that you’re their champion and that you’ll persevere.

From one agent to another, be your best low-maintenance self, and offer to be of service to the other agent in the transaction. You’re creating a positive environment that will promote a smoother transfer, and help build a reputation among your peers as someone they would like to do business with again.


This article was written by Mia Cottet from Inman News and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.