With housing inventories across the country still fairly limited, a number of real estate professionals have taken to the streets, going from door-to-door in order to ask homeowners if they'd be interested in selling up.
This trend is proving to be especially popular among realtors in Portland and has met with some success, reports the Oregonian. In one example, real estate agent Peggy Hoag of Prudential Northwest Properties relates how she headed from door-to-door to ask homeowners in person if they'd consider selling their homes. She explains how her clients had specific requests, and that she would visit properties matching what they were looking for on the off chance that the owner might want to sell up. According to Hoag, she's managed to find a number of willing sellers in this fashion, although she says that in some cases she had to make two visits to the same household.
Hoag says she adopted this strategy because Portland-area housing inventories are at an all-time low, and agents simply can't find suitable properties for their clients among those that are listed for sale. She also points out that clients appreciate the work she's putting in, saying that "buyers really lover the idea that their agent is on the phone talking to people in the neighborhood where they're looking."
Hoag isn't the only Portland real estate agent who's taken to cold-calling. Craig Reger, of Keller Williams Realty, related a story to the Oregonian which illustrates just how effective the method can be. Hoag's situation was that he had a pre-approved buyer desperate to find a home in Portland, but of the four listings within the client's price range, none of them were suitable. Rather than give up, Hoag had a team of five agents start making phone calls to homeowners in the area, asking them if they would be interested to sell up. Surprisingly, Hoag says that 3 or 4 homeowners out of every 100 called showed an interest in selling.
"In 17 years, I've never had to do this," said Reger. "These are real buyers who can't find homes, so we have two options as agents. We can wait for something to hit and compete against 20 other buyers, or we can get on the phone."
Sounds like an interesting strategy that could be beneficial for everyone involved, so long as those pesky agents don't start harassing or pressuring anyone to sell, of course. What do you think about this strategy? Is cold-calling homeowners something that you would try?
I would try cold calls and home visits if I had a good, friendly script to follow that didn't make me sound obnoxious.
There are two points with this idea that don't sit well with me.
The public perception of agents is not a good one, never really has been and the industry does nothing to correct that. A small percentage of agents are true professionals; earning a living from this field and conducting business in a manner consistent with the level of importance that it demands. The rest...well the public has made it clear what they think. This idea of knocking on doors with a pitch of "would you be willing to sell, I have a buyer" comes across as nothing but rookie, pushy agent nonsense. There may be agents with buyers willing to consider this but the well has been poisoned for those pros. Clearly, most owners will look at this as merely another pushy, obnoxious agent. I'm not saying the need doesn't exist, I'm saying that there might be a less "in your face" way to approach it. We "work" targeted neighborhoods, but indirectly - leave the bait and let them initiate contact.
How well is your buyer going to do with a home he/she is asking to buy? Can an effective price be negotiated? Repairs and concessions? How willing is a seller - that YOU asked to sell - going to be to listen to attempts by YOUR buyer to reduce price or toss in concessions? You immediately put your buyer in a position of weakness. One could argue that the market in some areas does this already, and that's accurate but this magnifies it even more.
I know in the minds of agents there's the idea that "even if it fails with the buyer, I've left my name with folks", there's merit to that. But at the end of the day, I know there are as effective if not more effective ways to "soft sell" than rapping on a door, fake smile and name tag in an owner's face.
I agree it comes across as a bit heavy, especially the fact that one agent went and knocked on the same person's door twice! Perhaps cold calling should suffice, and agents should probably only do so once. Even then, as you say, the negotiations will almost certainly be very delicate