With the market hot and the pandemic still restricting showing capacity, more and more sellers are considering using iBuyers to sell their homes. The benefits of doing so, proponents claim, are obvious: a guaranteed offer, little to no interaction with strangers, a fast and easy process.
So, what can an agent do? Are they doomed to permanently lose ground to these tech behemoths muscling their way into the real estate space? Must they hope for them to go away once the pandemic and social distancing ends? Or can they differentiate themselves in such a way as to win more business?
Highlight safety procedures in your marketing materials
Almost a year into the pandemic, plenty of sellers remain reluctant to open their homes to buyers, and iBuyers offer a way to bring a property to market with as little person-to-person contact as possible. In that way, increased iBuyer usage is not unlike any other health-conscious adaptation spurred on by COVID-19, where it’s not so much about selecting the best product or service, but rather the socially-distant-compliant one. Zoom Happy Hours, anyone?
So, why not take a page from the iBuyer playbook?
Highlight your safety procedures in all your marketing materials. Do you provide hand sanitizer and additional masks? Do you stagger admittance? Work with contact tracers? Require guests to wash their hands? Hire a cleaning crew to sanitize homes after showings? Whatever you do, prominently—and we mean prominently—feature your efforts in your offline and online marketing collateral.
Remind sellers that convenience isn’t really convenience
Beyond safety considerations, sellers are lured to iBuyers because of the promise of convenience and security. They’d rather have a guaranteed offer in hand than risk seeing their home languish on the market for too long, unable to attract an interested buyer. That the offer is usually below top dollar doesn’t seem to dawn on many.
While this reasoning might be understandable in a buyers’ market, where inventory outpaces demand, it’s seriously flawed in today’s sellers’ market. Homes are selling above asking prices within days of listing. Properties in desirable neighborhoods are scooped up sight unseen. There’s little reason for any seller to expect a protracted for-sale period marked by open house after open house after open house.
So it’s your job—via your marketing, social media, and community outreach—to educate prospective sellers on why they’re getting the short end of the stick with any potential iBuyer transaction. Let them know they’re sacrificing tens of thousands of dollars for the sake of convenience in a market where they have more power than they’ve ever had before. Remind them that the primary goal of iBuyers are to flip your property, so of course they’ll be getting a suboptimal deal. And then hammer home the safety angle, explaining how a parade of strangers won’t be stampeding through their living room, and you’ll go above and beyond to ensure any prospective buyers adhere to your rigorous health and safety protocols.
In short: Make them understand the market.
Get to seller leads first
Here’s the thing: iBuyers attract the vast majority of sellers in the middle stage of the home-selling process. These sellers have already decided upon bringing their property to market, and they’re looking (online) for help in doing so. That’s when iBuyers first come to their attention.
So, beat these iBuyers to the punch by reaching sellers early in their process. We covered several strategies in our blog about the most effective strategies for getting seller leads in a sellers’ market, which we encourage you to read, but one of the most effective is to use Homesnap’s heatmaps like Likelihood to List.
With heatmaps, you can identify which homes are more likely to hit a market (determined by a complex, machine learning algorithm) and tailor your canvassing accordingly. For example, you can send a postcard outlining the two talking points above—safety and how iBuyers are a bad deal—to likely-to-sell prospects. If they’re not interested, no harm, no foul; your name is out there. But if they are, you can completely cut the iBuyer out of the equation.