The real estate market was hot for so long that many agents who entered the real estate industry during this time period do not have any experience with a buyer's market. Until the recent real estate market crash, the market definitely favored sellers. Homes sold quickly and in many cases homes sold for prices above the listing price. As a result, buyers learned they had to move quite quickly. In fact, it became quite routine for buyers to waive inspections and other basics in a bid to move forward as quickly as possible. These buyers were quite well aware that it was common during this time for sellers to receive multiple offers. In some cases this could easily escalate into a bidding war.
As the real estate market continues to drop; however, the rules have changed and buyers are now holding the power. Whereas they once wanted to move quickly, they now have the luxury of taking their time. In order to succeed in the current market, agents must be certain they understand the elements of this market.
While it was quite possible to make a large sum of money by simply showing a few properties back when it was a seller's market; that is no longer the case. You must be prepared to face the realities of the existing market in order to survive it.
One of the realities that should be faced is the fact that homes in the current market will typically take at least six months to sell. In some cases, it may take much longer to sell properties. Compare this to homes that sold in a matter of hours or days when it was a seller's market, and it quickly becomes apparent how much the market has changed. There are steps that can be taken to combat this problem including ensuring that properties have the most exposure possible, especially web exposure. Consider offering virtual tours and using multiple, high-quality photographs. You might also think about increasing commission fees to buyer's agents who make your listings a priority.
In addition, as you face the reality of the current market you must also make sure that sellers face it as well. Many sellers continue to operate under the idea that they will be able to achieve the same level of prices that were typical not that long ago. As a result, many buyers are unrealistic about the prices they hope to achieve. It is critical that you gently introduce sellers to the reality of the current market. At any given time, the current market has about a six month back load of inventory. Even in markets which have not experienced as much of a downturn as other markets, it is essential for properties to be priced accurately or they will usually remain on the market.
As the market shifts, you may also find that you need to shift your marketing plans. Specifically, it should be understood that most areas are now in a buyer's market. This means, that more time will need to be given to developing buyer leads in order to liquidate the bulk of inventory that is currently on the market. This is not to say, of course, that you should not take new listings; however, to balance out those listings you must work to bring in buyers as well. One great place to look for buyer leads, especially first-time buyers, is actually rental properties. During a down market, there are usually more renters than homeowners. Most people do not rent out of choice. If they can see that it is to their advantage to buy and can be provided information that will help them to see how buying can be a reality, most people will choose home ownership over renting. Consider offering seminars that are free of charge at your office on the topic of home ownership. Print up fliers and provide advertisements in the local newspaper.