Who's Buying and Where Will You Find Them?
Every real estate market is different. Your buyer pool might consist mostly of young families with children or it could be that the majority of people you'll work with are retirees looking for homes with few steps to climb. You might find that while houses in certain neighborhoods and price ranges are most sought after, your buyers represent a wide range of ages and lifestyles. Once you have an idea who your buyers are, it's easier to find them.
Searching the MLS
Your local MLS is a good place to begin gathering information about the most popular types of housing in your area. Every MLS system is different but they all have search capabilities that allow you to compile a database of sold properties. The final data entered for each listing includes its sales price, the date sold, the type of financing that was used, and who sold it. However, you're also looking for another ending statistic — its number of days on the market. You can gain valuable information about the market and real estate trends in your area by asking the following questions when exploring your local MLS.
Which properties sold most quickly?
Are properties in certain neighborhoods nearly always a quick sale or does a fast turnover have more to do with features?
What are those features?
Do you see a popularity trend and if so, does it give you a clue about typical buyers?
It's up to you to decipher the statistics you find and determine how to use them. For instance, a large demand for houses in lower price ranges might mean that your area is good for first-time home-buyers. Look at the financing statistics on sold properties. Are they detailed enough to tell you if buyers acquired FHA loans? FHA loans are a popular mortgage solution for brand-new buyers. If a great number of them are cash sales, you might be dealing with retirees instead of first timers.
Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for area demographics, statistics about many aspects of your town, including real estate sales; the printed materials are very helpful. However, they should not take the place of your own research, which gives you a more personal understanding of pricing vs. features — knowledge that helps you work effectively with buyers
Take a drive to some of the popular neighborhoods you discovered through your research. What types of people live there? Do you see a lot of children playing in yards? Does it appear to be mostly senior citizens? Perhaps it's a neighborhood filled with young professional couples. It's just as possible that you'll see a wide variety of age ranges in the community. Browsing neighborhoods is a great way to become accustomed to your area and helps you answer questions from potential buyers.
Put the Statistics to Work
Once you've determined that your area is filled with first-time buyers, go find them. How about holding a “how to buy a home” seminar at a local community center? Mortgage brokers, home inspectors, surveyors, and other professionals involved with the home-buying process would very likely help you, because the event would promote their businesses too.
Insert a regular classified ad in your local newspaper's “homes for sale” category. Promote yourself as an agent who can help first-time homebuyers. Talk to lenders first, to make sure you indeed know what it takes to help first timers buy a home.
Visit your post office to learn how to send a bulk mailing to all residents of large apartment complexes. People who rent are always potential buyers. Talk with property managers to find out if the complex has a newsletter and if it accepts ads. If the complex is managed by a real estate firm, they probably won't offer you much help, but if they are not managed by a real estate firm, you have a great chance of getting an ad in their newsletter and of being the agent they refer tenants to.
The type of action you must take depends on the types of buyers you want to target. Brainstorm with other agents in your office to come up with a plan to find them.