Successful Second-Home Summer Sales

Help agents make the most of this busy season by teaching them how to identify prospects, qualify buyers, and follow up.

June 25, 2015

If you’ve set up shop in a desirable area that attracts summer visitors, chances are pretty good your busy season has arrived. With the worst of the Great Recession in the rearview mirror, many buyers are again considering a vacation home purchase.

In second-home markets, clients and their needs will be different than traditional residential buyers, but the keys to success are the same. Here are a few tips to get your agents pointed in the right direction this summer.

Serious Buyers vs. Lookie-Loos

Many seasoned brokers think of real estate in vacation areas as being overrun by “lookie-loos.” But you’ll be surprised to learn our anecdotal evidence at Windermere Stellar suggests roughly 20 percent of Oregon Coast real estate sales come from people walking in off the street.

Yes, when time is at a premium for busy agents, there’s nothing worse than serving as a tour guide for buyers who aren’t really serious. So how do agents stay focused on the buyers who are serious? We teach our agents to ask the right questions so they can gain the buyer insight they need.

Here’s what your agents need to uncover when qualifying buyers (in any market):

  • Capability: Does the customer have the financial ability to buy a second home?
  • Motivation: How serious are they? How often do they visit the area on vacation? Are they familiar with area prices?

The best sign a prospective buyer is serious about a search is when they’ve contacted your office ahead of time. If details have been considered, like what they’re looking for, their price range, and how they’ll pay for their home, it’s a good sign your agent has an interested buyer. If the prospect has been sent parameter-matching search results ahead of time, then you know they’ve educated themselves somewhat before even making the trip to view the market.

Keep the Shelves Stocked

The key to maintaining a healthy office in a second home real estate market is to keep your inventory up. Have the shelves stocked, so to speak. If you have all the listings, your agents will be showing them and attracting more buyers because you control the market.

Follow Up

Staying in touch with potential buyers is critical. Compel your agents to create a plan for frequent communication. They can send them information about changes in the marketplace through e-mail and e-newsletters for example, or they can list the fun area activities in a mailed postcard.

When people buy a second home, they are really buying the lifestyle that the home and location represent. Remembering lifestyle in all communications, follow-up contact, and marketing can be the key to success in a second-home market.

Sell With Confidence

Most second-home markets tend to lag behind primary-home markets. For example, our Oregon coast inventory is more robust than Portland’s or Seattle’s, and prices haven’t caught up yet. Eventually our inventory will mimic the big cities and prices will inevitably rise — clear transitions into a seller’s market.

The good news is your agents can feel confident telling their clients that the time to buy a second home is right now in many markets. Especially since experts are forecasting interest rates to rise over the next two years.

While it may seem like success in a second-home market requires a special set of skills, attention to the basics — market knowledge, inventory management, frequent communication, and customer qualification — will help you leverage the summer season.



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Joan Allen is a co-owner of Windermere Stellar and cochair of the Windermere Foundation. As co-owner of Windermere Stellar, Joan provides overall strategies for management, marketing, and company direction. Joan works with multiple nonprofits in the region as cochair of the local Windermere Foundation, which supports charitable organizations that assist low-income children and families. She also serves on the board of directors for New Avenues for Youth, Bridge Meadows, and Providence Portland Medical Center, and is an advisory board member for Girls Inc.