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Managing buyer expectations in a seller’s market


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I began my real estate career in 2000. And if you had told me then about the luxury market we have today, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now, 21 years later, we’re in a situation unlike anything we’ve seen. To call it rapid would be an understatement. Demand continuously surpasses supply, with listings lasting only two to four weeks before being snapped up.

My Florida market says it all. Single-family homes are moving quickly, and condos change hands at a similarly increased rate. I’m seeing a difference of more than 80% in terms of available inventory.

It’s definitely a seller’s market—and for buyers, an environment like this can feel tense. Every offer faces stiff competition, and the odds aren’t necessarily in your clients’ favor. So how can you manage their expectations? There are three things I like to encourage my clients to keep in mind when navigating this new terrain.

1. Don’t get too attached

Under normal circumstances, real estate is a deeply personal and emotional purchase requiring plenty of time and consideration. But these are not normal circumstances.

I advise my buyers to set sentimentality aside. It’s necessary for them to adopt a more practical, rational mindset so when they find that property that resonates with their personal desires and aspirations, they’re prepared to make an offer. Otherwise, they’ll become emotionally exhausted by the process. When they lose a bid, they need to be ready to move on with an open mind.

2. Keep your eyes forward

ONE Sotheby’s International Realty

That brings me to my next point: buyers need to stay focused on future potential, not past what-ifs. They’ll be tempted to look back at what could have been, had they only offered a little higher or sooner. Encourage them not to wallow.

I remind my buyers that when opportunities are missed, they weren’t meant to be, and the right home for them is still out there. Everyone who’s looking to sell their home wants to get in on this market, so even when buyers lose out on a home, it’s crucial for them to keep their heads in the game—that perfect property is still going to appear.

3. Have trust in the process

Buyers have to stay confident that their dream home will still come, and they have to stay confident in the real estate process. A market this fast-paced can cause fatigue and frustration; I’ve found that it’s important to regularly reassure my clients that as agents, we have their best interests at heart. When they’re willing to listen to my advice as a professional expert, we’re in a much stronger position.

With these three tips, I’m better able to manage my clients’ expectations. For agents, there are a couple more pieces of advice that I often like to share.

Tell buyers everything

ONE Sotheby’s International Realty

Before you can begin to manage their expectations, you need to let your clients know the challenges and opportunities that await them. Even seasoned real estate buyers haven’t experienced anything like this. It’s important to explain to clients that the situation is ever-changing, inventory remains at record low levels, and the market dynamics they observed 30 days ago are already obsolete.

The cadence of your communication needs to keep pace with the market. In the past, you may have contacted your buyers if market conditions shifted—but now they’re shifting weekly, if not daily, and synchronized communication may be necessary. I used to forward updates and notifications to my buyers manually; now, I make sure they receive the same relevant messages as me at the same time I do. No one wants to miss a minute on anything.

Ask timely questions

Don’t just communicate on the buying side; leverage your connections and be involved on the selling side as well. If my buyers truly fall in love with a property, I speak to the other agent to get a sense of how I can make the negotiation as smooth as possible for my clients. Nowadays there are so many competitors waiting for your deal to fall apart; if your buyer is serious, they need to commit.

Ultimately, it may be a seller’s market, but sellers and buyers are united by complementary goals: one wants to get the best price for their property, the other wants a beautiful new home. As agents, we can help our clients—and each other—make the most of this one-of-a-kind market so that everyone comes out a winner.

Anna Sherrill

Anna Sherrill has been a trusted name in South Florida real estate circles for decades. Since joining ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in 2010, she’s negotiated record-breaking deals as the sales director for several luxury developments in Miami Beach and contributed wholeheartedly to Sotheby’s International Realty’s unprecedented growth in Florida. Respected developers depend on her market insight and strong relationships with buyers in the Northeast, Midwest, and Latin America. Clients also trust her insight to maximize and streamline the process of purchasing and selling their homes.

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