Don’t Neglect Buyers in a Sellers’ Market
With the residential property market still running hot, there’s a plethora of people looking to buy their own patch of paradise. It might be a sellers’ goldmine out there, but sales agents are being urged not to neglect buyers.
Many buyers are in a state of FOMO (fear of missing out) – competing against masses of other people for a comparatively limited number of properties. Massive numbers at open homes are one indication of this situation.
Long-time sales agent and principal Roxanne Workman – owner of RE/MAX Ignite in Riverhills and RE/MAX Profile Real Estate in Bardon – says a regular occurrence is sales agents receiving abuse from frustrated buyers. In this case study on the state of the residential property market, Workman advocates supporting buyers as much as sellers in these unusual times.
While there has been some evidence that investors are coming back into the market, Workman channels the experience of many agents when she says owner occupiers have been dominating sales in recent times.
She says local investors have held back as they have crunched their figures and are finding residential pricing appears to be too inflated for them. There is some interest from interstate investors because local housing is still relatively cheap compared to the NSW and Victorian markets.
“But they’re competing against first home owners who have much more of a want,” Workman says. “I had a lady who missed out on a house as an owner occupier. She subsequently couldn’t get a rental property because there were four children, animals and her husband. She ended up going into a caravan park. This is an example of the buyer stress out there.”
Why agents should look after buyers
Workman warns that agents who don’t help buyers won’t succeed in three to four years’ time because “they’re in for a quick buck on a sale”.
“Those buyers will be cranky and they won’t use that agent later on,” she says. “This is a long game, not a short game. You need to ensure you’re treating everyone with the same respect. Buyers have parents, aunties and uncles who could be property owners and landlords as well. They could be useful prospects down the track – whether for sales or your rent roll.”
Essentially, agents who don’t treat buyers with respect could face word spreading about what kind of service they offer.
Workman says she is constantly told that agents aren’t making any attempts to stay in touch or get back to buyers, nor are they making any efforts to educate them.
“There’s no empathy,” she says.
Workman believes that agents need to give as much to a buyer as they do a seller because there is a duty of care to a buyer.
“That’s how it’s always been,” she says. “And the duty of the care is to make sure the buyer becomes educated about what their competition is because they’re not buying in isolation – they’re competing with others. They need to understand how to sharpen up their buying power. Cash used to be king but it’s not now.”
Workman cites an example where the buyer might need to be better educated about the conditions surrounding a settlement – where the buyer needs to be told to work more closely with the seller. The seller could be a senior person who is downsizing and moving into an aged-care home. Price is obviously a consideration but the seller might simply need a longer settlement period to move to their new lodgings.
“A buyer who thinks they’ve got a 30-day settlement might think they are in great situation but this seller might need a 60-to-90-day settlement,” Workman says. “So that buyer needs to work in with that seller. If the buyer can do that then they’re one up on another buyer who thinks that a quick, short sharp settlement is what someone is after.”
Don’t waste buyers’ time
Workman used to advise her sales agents to keep selling a property until it went unconditional. However, with agents at the receiving end of frustrated buyers’ abuse in recent times, she won’t stage open homes for properties that have received a contract – although she will still allow enquiries.
She gives an example of buyer frustration when she and her husband hosted an open home at a time when tight COVID-19 restrictions were in place. On this day, people were lined up over two driveways, wearing masks and standing in the hot sun for 45 minutes to an hour before they could be let inside to inspect the property due to the limited numbers allowed.
As she entertained the people in the line-up, one of them asked her if the home was under contract. Workman replied that it wasn’t, and that it could be purchased that day. She said she wouldn’t expect potential buyers to line up in the hot sun for a property they couldn’t buy.
“The man replied that he’d been to two properties that day that were already under contract,” Workman says. “He said, ‘we missed out on going to another property that was available because we liked the one we were waiting to see – and then the agent tells us it’s under contract. We don’t have time for this!’. “
So that’s why buyers are frustrated. As Workman puts it, “The last thing you want is a frustrated buyer because they tend to buy silly or they don’t buy at all.”