Tri-City real estate agents targeting homeowners directly

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Market continues to see low inventory for buyers

Bryan Verhei of Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty is getting ready to send potential clients a direct mail piece with home maintenance tips.

It’s a little more lighthearted than one he sent in early April urging homeowners to put their home up for sale.

At the time he wrote the letter, there were 384 homes on the market, compared to the 1,200 homes historically available in the Tri-Cities.

This marketing technique is called farming, and although many real estate agents use the strategy to build name recognition, for others, it’s a way to encourage homeowners to sell.

“It’s pretty rough how many fewer houses there are, and buyers are not going away. Even with the rising house prices, they are still saving money because interest rates have been so low. They are being bought up as quickly as they can. Some are only on the market a few days” Verhei said.

But did Verhei’s marketing technique work? He said he hasn’t received any calls as a result of the letter and said he uses the strategy mostly for personal branding to get his name out there.

The number of homes available has increased slightly since then, said Verhei, but the sentiment still holds true: there is more demand than inventory.

“Two hours after sending that letter, the number of homes went up,” Verhei said. “I will say that a couple of days ago we got over 400 homes on the market but that’s changing all the time. We’re just recovering from a winter that has been brutal. It kept people from listing their homes. Interest rates have been at an all-time low so it has brought in a lot more buyers, and builders couldn’t build during the winter because the ground was frozen.”

Verhei said he hopes to see more new construction soon so people not inclined to sell could buy a new home.

“I have several homes pending representing the buyer and some sellers, and we won’t see that improve until we get more inventory,” Verhei said.

Cari McGee of Keller Williams Realty finds calling homeowners directly is sometimes more effective.

“I do actually have a program that sends these out for me, sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t, but I am finding what works best is actually reaching out to people you know. That’s what gets the best results, and sometimes some of them are interested in listing their house,” she said. “It’s a practice that agents should always do. Now is even more critical we do it so we can get more inventory on the market.”

She said she’ll pick up the phone and let the person on the receiving end know that home values are up and ask if they’ve had any thoughts of selling their home.

For Vicki Monteagudo, realtor and designated broker at Century 21 Tri-Cities, the process looks a lot like matchmaking, trying to pair up a buyer with their dream home.

“We have an abundance of buyers looking for specific properties,” she said. “Sometimes that forces agents to make those rudimentary calls to potentially pair up that buyer with that seller.”

Sometimes, they’ll even do investigative work.

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Elsie Puig

Elsie Puig

Elsie Puig is a freelance writer and web designer. She has a strong background in digital marketing communications, copywriting, and social media. Her passion is using web technology and strong messaging to help small businesses meet their goals. She is currently pursuing her online MA in Web Design and Online Communications from the University of Florida. She lives in Richland with her husband and two children.

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