September 30, 2022

Close-up: Sellers in 2021 | firsttuesday Journal

The pandemic and 2020 recession have forced an abrupt shift in the housing market, influencing many sellers’ and buyers’ decisions on where and when to buy and sell — and for how much. But according to a Zillow survey of sellers who sold from March 2021 through September 2021, many of these behaviors and attitudes in fact remain unchanged.

In 2021, the typical domestic seller is:

  • a member of Generation (Gen) X
  • college educated;
  • middle-class; and
  • from the South, according to the Zillow analysis.

Among sellers who sold their homes in 2021:

  • 70% sold a single-family residence (SFR);
  • 11% sold an attached townhouse; and
  • 9% sold a condominium unit.

The average seller lived in their home for 14 years prior to selling. During this time, the average seller spent that time paying off their mortgage and saving up cash while the value of their home appreciated. The average seller’s high equity further fueled competitive bidding wars in 2021, making it more difficult for first-time homebuyers to participate in today’s market.

Most sellers reported that shifting life circumstances influenced them to sell. Of those who sold in 2021:

  • 46% cited a change in their household or family size;
  • 40% cited low mortgage interest rates;
  • 36% cited a new job or job transfer; and
  • 35% cited remote work.

Despite the continuing rise in digital options, the share of sellers that use real estate agents has stayed the same over the last three years. To conduct their home sale:

  • 66% used a website on a computer;
  • 55% used mobile websites;
  • 48% used an app;
  • 42% used a friend, relative or colleague;
  • 26% used a print ad; and
  • 24% used direct mail.

Overall, 82% of sellers used a real estate agent. Among sellers that also bought a home, 62% of those that worked with an agent to sell used the same agent to buy. When the agent creates good rapport with their seller, the seller will most likely stick with the same agent for future home transactions.

Marketing strategy

Despite the continuing impacts of the pandemic and the 2020 recession, as we have seen, buying and selling continues. Even in California, for the last eighteen months, homebuyers inflicted with fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) have been snatching up inventory, taking advantage of then, low interest rates and stimulus boosts. Homebuyers have now backed off since the effects of stimulus have worn off and interest rates have increased. And without homebuyers, sellers will soon find themselves in trouble.

2022 will see a decline in demand as homebuyers and sellers take a wait-and-see approach following the expiration of the foreclosure moratorium and the return of forced sales. But agents can prepare for a homebuying recovery to begin around 2023-2024.

Based on the high percentage of sellers using websites and apps to conduct their homes sales, it benefits agents to market themselves online and strengthen their digital presence. Agents can also bolster their online websites by using social media to stay visible to past and current clients, as well as attract new clients to their websites.

Agents can utilize their website to post:

  • listings and the listings of other agents in their broker’s office;
  • professional successes, such as meeting sales goals, receiving an award or giving shout-outs to colleagues they’ve had the pleasure of working with;
  • appreciation for clients, like celebrating when their client moves into their new home;
  • advertising neighborhood events;
  • neighborhood pictures, and if they have a Pinterest account, a neighborhood board;
  • practical decorating, gardening or home improvement tips; and
  • light, friendly posts about their own (controversy-free) interests to assist their authenticity ratings.

Agents can also download free RPI FARM letters to create newsletters, postcards, door hangers, and real estate flyers to further their marketing strategy online, in print ad, or direct mail.

Most importantly, since sellers often rely on word of mouth to choose an agent, agents and brokers need to ask their past clients for referrals. Let past clients know you are actively involved, successful and available to help them and their referrals in their next real estate transaction. Agents can use social media, email, or direct mail marketing to contact their clients. Thank you cards also come in handy once the referral has been given.

Maintaining good rapport with clients is always important and will benefit agent’s business in the long term.

Related article:

FARM: Letter to past clients

Close-up: Sellers in 2021