10 Ways to Get More Real Estate Listings in a Low Inventory Market

In a low inventory market, sellers enjoy growing or recently recouped equity and are finally in a position to get out of underwater mortgages, but might stubbornly hold out for a premium sale price. Home buyers typically face a huge inventory shortage in most markets and might make competitive offers on homes only to keep from losing out to other bidders.

A low inventory market trend presents a huge opportunity for real estate agents, but how do you find more home sellers? Follow these 10 tips and with some hard work, creativity and persistence, you’ll increase your listings in no time.

1. Look for expired and withdrawn listings

01Graph-c13b28-300x201Inventory is on the rise, narrowing the opportunity for sellers to hold out for premium pricing. As this chart shows, the number of homes listed for sale on Zillow was up 9.3 percent year-over-year in January 2015.
Source: Zillow Research

A good agent will scour the MLS for homes that were listed in the past but never sold. Many homes failed to sell because they were seen as overpriced at the time. Does their last list price seem like a reasonable price today? Chances are, the owner doesn’t realize how much the market has picked up and might still be open to selling the home before the glut of inventory increases the competition for buyers. Contact the owner and express your interest in helping them to sell their property while it still can be profitable for them to do so. Explain to them the benefits of selling their home in a growing market; when they see that there’s a limit to how long they might be able to sell at premium prices, you will likely get a response (see graph at right).

2. Capture seller contacts at open houses

02MeetGreet-ceef6e-150x150Open houses are a great way for real estate agents to meet new buyers. Have you thought that these buyers could also be potential sellers? Many will likely need to sell their house first before buying the next house. Download the Open Home Pro App on your tablet, then use it at your next open house to check people in and collect contact information from them. The most valuable questions asked on this app are: “Do you have an agent? Do you have to sell your house before purchasing the next one?” Using this tool at open houses allows you to meet, qualify, and connect with potential home sellers.

3. Use social media to find sellers

If you really want to get creative, search Twitter for #LookingToMove, #INeedToMove and #IWantToMove, and see what comes up. Yes, you might get tenants complaining about their landlord or someone on vacation wistfully sharing their dream venue, but you might also find a serious buyer or two looking to find their next home. It only takes a few minutes to search Twitter for these hashtags, but the payoff could be immediate and highly rewarding.

4. Explore rental listings

Think about the scenarios in which a homeowner might want to rent out their property: job transfer, divorce or life change. But in most cases, they are renting out because they couldn’t afford to sell. Their home could have been underwater, or the market simply wouldn’t support the asking price. Instead of listing it with an agent, they decided to rent it and “ride it out” for a couple of years. Here’s your opportunity to inform them the market has changed and that now it’s a great time to sell.

5. Target moving, estate and “huge” garage sales

05NewsPaper-296186-150x150When was the last time you looked for “moving sale,” “estate sale” or “HUGE-ENORMOUS- MASSIVE garage sale” in the local newspaper or on Craigslist? Yes, the kinds of sales where people are trying to get rid of their junk and furniture. Alternately, it could be that they’re moving, that the owner has passed and the heirs can’t maintain it, or that they’re cleaning house to accommodate an impending and major life change. Run their locations in the MLS and see how many are listed for sale. Find out the stories of others that are not listed for sale. Give them a call and offer them a free home value analysis report. This can lead to solid seller contacts.

6. Prospect past clients of your former real estate co-workers

Do you work in a broker office? There are real estate agents who left your office, right? Go to your broker and ask for the files of past buyer clients. Contact these buyers and indicate that you are taking over for agent John Smith, and ask them what their real estate needs are. Some of them may just be in the transition to move.

7. Find the empty nesters

Filter your data source and narrow in on large properties that are 5+ bedrooms, 3,500+ square feet, and two-story homes that were purchased 20+ years ago. What’s the likely scenario here? A couple who bought a big place for their three children to grow up in and now the children have moved out. The empty nesters are ready to downgrade and move into something that’s more convenient and suitable for their new lifestyle. Help them with their transition.

8. Send a happy anniversary card

06Card-2-b70133-150x150Do you remember your home buyer clients from 5, 7, or 10 years ago? Send them an anniversary card; congratulate them on their 5th/7th/10th year in their home and tell them that you’re thinking about them. Nurture your past clients and see if they are at a stage of their lives where they’re ready to trade up to the next house. If they are, you are in luck! If they’re not ready, ask if they know somebody who is.

9. Knock on the doors of “for sale by owner” houses

Do you see “for sale by owner” signs in your local area? Are you afraid of knocking on the door and asking the homeowners if you can help them sell their house? We get it—no one likes rejection and no one wants to be seen as a door-to-door salesperson. But try this approach: knock on the door and say: “Hi, I saw that you’re selling your home. I think I might be able to help you. Would you like to talk?” Ask questions like: “How are you advertising your home? Do you need help in handling the paperwork or showing the property?” Perhaps your conversation can demonstrate the value of having a seller’s agent instead of selling the home themselves.

10. Find off-market or pocket listings

In many markets, real estate agents regularly network with each other about potential deals. Some agents share off-market properties with each other—otherwise known as “pocket” listings. Also, brokerage firms generally release upcoming listings to their agents a few weeks before they hit the MLS. Work with a well-connected agent and make sure you’re privy to these potential opportunities.


Most active buyers spend months looking for a new home. And real estate agents can spend the same amount of time looking for their next listing. Until more sellers and homes are added to a low inventory market, you and your buyers will continue to face housing shortages. But you can change this. Try the targeted marketing strategies outlined above and get more listings today.

Real estate is a people business. Be proactive about making new connections, be smart about using data, and be hungry to get more business.

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