Published by Jim Droz

Tight inventory is putting the squeeze on homebuyers who are jumping into the market after finally seeing positive signs of a housing recovery. Talk about your good news, bad news situation. That means it’s time for the talk. You know, the one where you have to be blunt with clients who will be competing with a host of other buyers, including cash-wielding investors.

“The poor buyer’s agents, which I mostly am, have to be super aggressive,” said Jackie Cartwright, a Realtor in the Las Vegas area. “They have to coach their clients from the start about what to expect and find out how comfortable they are doing certain things.”

Some of those things might be asking clients to offer twice the earnest money deposit or asking for no closing costs or HOA fees. Having them prepared to offer more than the listing price also is being done a lot in Nevada’s Clark County, which has about a third of the listings compared to a year ago but nearly the same number of closings.

“I’m mainly managing expectations,” said Cartwright, who has managed to be successful despite the shortage of inventory. “You have to be tenacious and professional and offer your clients full service. I ask them about their savings situation or if they have any family members who can help with down payments. Some need to have a couple of bids fail before they realize the gravity of the situation and what they’re up against. But if you coach them properly in a respectful and straightforward manner, they begin to understand and you can move forward.”

Another major Southwest region – the Phoenix metropolitan area – is also encountering drastic drops in inventory.

“The inventory is very low,” said Mary L. Hartman, a Realtor in the suburb of Surprise. “What I’m finding is that the leads I’m working are more serious in nature. They’re more receptive to somebody helping them because they’ve been trying to find something and there’s a challenge still with all the short sales on the market.”

After nearly 10 years in real estate, Hartman has learned to adapt to the ebbs and flows of the business. The latest trend of tighter inventories is just another stream to navigate.

“My strategy is, don’t be afraid of anything,” she said. “There are a lot of agents who don’t want to deal with short sales or don’t want to work with foreclosures or this or that. But if you don’t want to you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

In the Denver metropolitan area, a similar refrain is heard from agents who are adapting to a tighter market.

“It’s extremely competitive at certain price points and I’m telling my clients to be prepared,” said Realtor Keelan McCamey, who likes to use escalation clauses in the purchase contract if he knows a home will receive numerous bids.

“If we put an offer on a home that’s $250,000 and below, I pretty much give my clients a heads-up that it’s more than likely going to go to a multiple-offer situation and that we’ll more than likely have to use an escalation clause to even have a chance to be competitive,” he said. “That usually will help us win more often than not.”

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