By Buddy Kane
Buyers. Lots of ‘em. More than there are Sellers, by a long shot. This isn’t news, but it’s gotten to the point that many agents are revisiting age old door knocking techniques used in the past to bring in new business. The agents I’ve spoken with are having a fair amount of success using this approach. To me, the idea of knocking on some one’s front door in the Covid era congers images of Carl Hanratty played by Tom Hanks in the movie Catch Me If You Can, responding with an abrupt “Go F@#$! Yaself”, slamming the door in my face.
My experience in drumming up new listings has been on the phone. The idea of cold calling expired, and cancelled listings usually made other agent’s cringe. Their unwillingness to dial the phone made this concept more appealing to me. I enjoyed gravitating to jobs no one else wanted. There’s less competition and the potential for greater rewards if you can hang in there long enough to capitalize on a few small victories as encouragement. Cold calling anyone for anything is not fun, but it is one method of attack to keep in mind depending upon market conditions at any given point in time.
One would think that cold calling someone is less intrusive than simply appearing on their front doorstep, especially during a pandemic, and it is. But it’s also far less engaging, making it more difficult to establish a meaningful connection with people. And when was the last time you answered a phone call from an unknown or unfamiliar number? I know I don’t make a regular practice of it, and I’ve often been the person dialing the phone on the other end of the line.
Hitting the phones is simply a numbers game, not to be taken to heart on a singular basis and likely a thing of the past, unless it somehow becomes useful again. In my experience, when I was able to engage a seller on the phone as an attempt to propose our services, the conversation often took an abrupt detour to one simple question:
“Why? Do you have a buyer for me?”
“Well, not exactly, you see…” CLICK
(On to the next call. Or, having the guts to call them again, in an attempt to re-engage. I don’t recommend this unless you have some serious phone skills and thick skin)
Current market conditions have presented a clear challenge in the form of the lowest levels of inventory we have ever seen. By the same token, they have also manufactured opportunities in the form of ready, willing, and able buyers - checkbook in hand. (To be clear, we don’t advise buying any property right now without doing some serious homework to determine that its financially feasible for the client)
The real-life version of this story is as follows: I have friends and acquaintances that have been interested in buying a home in the area for the last couple years. While I have informed them that now is not the time to buy for the obvious reason that supply and demand has driven prices skyward, leaving them with virtually no hand in the negotiating process, they persist.
Exhibit A: One prospective buyer has been beaten out of several purchase opportunities and decided to get creative: A property previously on the market was taken off and never sold, for undisclosed reasons. Why not make an offer on a property that is off market? Sounds easy enough. Upon speaking with him, I accepted my first opportunity go door knocking, do some digging and create a win/win for both the buyer and the seller, because I’m just that kinda guy.
But with one tasty caveat: I’m not after their listing, I already have their buyer lined up.
In anticipation of the $64,000 question: Do you have a buyer?
I’m poised to drop a resounding YES, like an Ace up my sleeve.
As I approach the front door, I’m in full sales mode with lines like, “I noticed your property was previously on the market” and “Are you still having thoughts of selling?” (Believe it or not, a lot of these coaching scripts actually do work, but the feeling of being on a used car lot is unmistakable)
I envisioned this conversation beginning on the front porch and swiftly proceeding inside to further expand on the generous opportunity I have presented the seller. I was walking back to my car within 30 seconds.
Before the owner was able to verbally utter the word “no”, her head was already shaking to indicate this response.
“Can I ask why you didn’t sell?”
“We never really wanted to sell. Our kids were pushing us because of how hot the market is, but we came to the realization that we’re happy right where we are. We live here part of the time and ‘Air BnB’ it as well. We’re golden”, she said with a wry smile that illustrated supreme belief and conviction in her reasoning.
I half expected at least some hostility for bothering her with an offer that held zero interest from her view of things, but she was kind and cordial. Ordinarily I would have been surprised or even discouraged by her response, but it made perfect sense. They were already happy and taking what the market was giving them without having to sell, relocate and uproot themselves just to make a buck. All I could do was respect it and add this quick dialogue to the philosophical rolodex of ideas and insights to reference moving forward.
Where to from here? Nobody knows but it will require steady engagement and documentation of what is happening on the ground, in real time. The only constant we can count on is the reality that the market is feeding us a new playbook every day, especially when it doesn’t fit into our current plans…
Posted by Buddy Kane