PUBLISHED: July 23, 2020 at 7:10 a.m. | UPDATED: July 23, 2020 at 10:36 a.m.
Demand is the highest in years, but listings are down, meaning home shoppers need to get creative to find a home to buy.
According to “Reports on Housing” author Steven Thomas, Southern California currently has the highest demand for homes in years, but Southern California’s inventory of homes for sale is down to about 28,000, versus almost 46,000 this time last year.
Combine that with historically low mortgage interest rates, and you have an even more competitive environment. Econ 101 would dictate that when you have high demand and low supply — when it comes to home sales — you need to get creative to be successful.
Here are several things you might consider.
Write a letter: Combine the forces of your real estate agent and her title insurance company representative and you can get a very specific list of homes that meet your criteria to target.
Write a personal letter to these homeowners (well, one you can customize for each address without having to write a new letter each time).
Provide a photo of your family, including your kids and pets. Talk about why their home would be perfect for you, include your loan pre-approval letter, and ask them to contact your agent if they have any interest in selling their house to you.
You might even have your agent write a letter as well that includes the “prospecting package,” with a range of what the current fair market value of their home might be based on comparable recent sales, and even the Zestimate from Zillow.
While public information, home information repositories and internet mapping tools will usually tell you if they have a pool or a view, you won’t know the condition of the home or of any recent upgrades. So while you don’t want to be too specific about the price, homeowners who aren’t proactively looking to sell may be surprised to learn how much their home might be worth.
You only need one to take your bait, then hope you fall in love when the owners invite you to come take a look.
Look for off-market listings: Ask your agent to look through his and her Multiple Listing Service for houses that match your criteria that have expired, been withdrawn, are on hold or that recently cancelled.
You should still have access to all the listing information, and once you find one or more that looks promising, your agent can contact those former listing agents to see if the sellers still might have an interest in selling.
A house does not have to be actively listed for you to put a legitimate deal together.
Get creative in your pursuit. Use all the necessary and recommended COVID-19 precautions when you do agree to take a look. And the agent(s) can use all of the standard CAR forms to put the transaction together so both buyers and sellers are appropriately represented.
Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent with Realty One Group West. She can be reached at 949-678-3373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.