I hear it repeated by one would-be seller after another: “I want to sell my home but I’m afraid that if I’ll sell my home I won’t be able to find a replacement home. I don’t want to be homeless!”
In fact, after I upload this column on Tuesday, I’m meeting with such a seller whose home just went under contract. Now they need to buy their next home before closing! (They are looking for a 3-bedroom ranch or patio home up to $350,000 that is west of Wadsworth Blvd. between Jewell Ave. & 80th Ave.)
There are a variety of ways that a buyer’s agent can succeed at this task — besides publishing the buyer’s search criteria in a newspaper column! Here are some of the techniques which agents (including me) use to get the job done for their buyers.
1) Sending eflyers to other agents describing their buyers’ needs.
2) Sending letters or postcards to homeowners in a subdivision saying, “I may have a buyer for your house — call me!” (This is a really effective approach if you’re telling the truth and not just fishing for listings. What I like to do is to include a picture of the buyer’s family in front of a recognizable park or sign in the neighborhood to show that I’m not bluffing.)
Mailings like this can be highly targeted, because it is possible for agents with MLS access to download from public records such details as style (ranch vs. 2-story, etc.), size, year of construction, etc.
3) Contacting agents who “farm” the targeted area or who at least have a history of selling homes in that neighborhood. Without access to the MLS, you can’t search sold listings and see who sold them, so you need an agent for this approach.
4) Find an active playground and strike up conversations with the adults about your home search. It helps to have your own child with you!
Here at Golden Real Estate we have added a “Buyer Needs” page to our website, http://www.goldenrealestate.com, so that sellers can see whether their home matches what one of our buyer clients is looking for. This page lists the agent to contact if you want further information.
Some MLS’s, I’ve been told, allow agents to list buyer needs, which would be really helpful, but I’m not aware of any plans for our MLS, Metrolist, to include that feature.
Here are some other points that I make when talking to a seller who faces this dilemma and is holding his or her home off the market because of it.
1) You may feel helpless as a buyer — especially if you have lost bids for houses already — but you are definitely in the driver’s seat as a seller. If you price your current home right (i.e., low enough to attract multiple offers quickly), you will be able to select the buyer with the most flexibility regarding closing date. Your agent could say to such a buyer’s agent, “Your buyer can have this house if they agree to postpone closing up to “x” days to fit seller’s need to find a replacement home.”
2) At Golden Real Estate, our agents use our free moving truck as a bargaining chip in winning a bid for their buyer, by offering totally free or nearly free moving for the seller, even though they’re not our client.