Both new agents and experienced agents moving into new markets face a steep learning curve. The history of homes sold in a given market, and the changes that neighbourhoods have been through, are often extensive. Catching up on market trends and learning about existing inventory is imperative. It will give your clients the confidence that they’re working with the right agent. Follow these eight steps to master the inventory in a given area and become the local expert.
1. See as many properties as possible
Visiting as many properties in person as possible is easily the fastest way to become a local inventory expert. The more properties you’ve seen the more you’ll be able to make on-the-spot evaluations in the future, drawing comparisons with what you’ve seen in the past.
Try determining the sales price of the properties you visit without looking at the comparables and see how close you get to the purchase price when the home sells. This is a great way to get a feel for accurately pricing properties, something that sellers fully expect their agents to do with confidence. It will get you very familiar with the community you’re servicing.
2. Study and review REW thoroughly
Before visiting a property, do your research. REW is an excellent resource for all things real estate, and it’s extremely useful for monitoring and evaluating new listings in your area. When a new property comes to market, go over the assessment history, square footage, key features, bedrooms, and all of the other data that REW makes publicly available. View all the photos and take a virtual tour of the property to familiarize yourself with the listing, and set notifications to see when the property sells. Tracking this information will help you understand the current pulse of the market.
3. Monitor price ranges closely
If there’s one piece of information that agents should familiarize themselves with when starting out in a new service area, it’s the price range for entry-level single-family homes and condos. It may swing widely, and you should have a good understanding of what makes up the differences between the low and high end of that range. For detached homes, it’s also a good idea to learn what a typical home in your given area looks like, and what the cost of that home may be. Once you’ve determined that, you can start to learn how adding a bedroom, a bathroom, or any other amenities affect the base price of a typical home in the area.
4. Understand the characteristics of every neighbourhood
Your service area will be made up of numerous neighbourhoods, which you should learn about as much as possible. Knowing the average price ranges for a given subdivision, and the pros and cons of one neighbourhood compared to another will impress your clients. It’s also highly beneficial to learn about new builds in the area. Know the current price ranges for units in new developments vs. resale opportunities, which builders have the best reputations in the city, and the potential benefits of buying presale properties.
5. Know the school systems
A great school district can bring in a higher pool of buyers to a listing, which in turn increases sale prices and home values across a neighbourhood. It’s because of this that knowing where the top-rated school systems are located within a community is such a valuable piece of information.
Each province provides its own school district data, in British Columbia the Education System Performance District Directory is a great place to get a feel for specific municipalities. From there, it’s imperative that you note where the best schools are located, and where their catchment areas sit. Knowing this information, even if it’s a rough estimate of a few of the closest schools and their rankings, will thoroughly impress your clients. REW’s listing pages offer a list of the nearest schools to every property on the site.
6. Learn how to spot potential issues
Being an inventory expert also means that you understand the potential red flags present at any given property. Often these are associated with older homes, but be diligent and learn how to spot potential issues with properties no matter the year they were built.
If you’ve seen certain issues in abundance in a specific area, it will help you know what to watch out for in particular. Buildings built in certain time periods often have similar issues, while some neighbourhoods will be full of homes with similar floorplans. Knowing what to watch for in your area and recognizing potential problems early puts you ahead of the competition.
7. Stay on top of the lifestyle and business changes
Make it your mission to be on top of the introduction of new parks, businesses, recreational areas, playgrounds, and any other changes coming to your service area. These kinds of investments from the government and business community can help increase the value of homes within a given area, so it’s important to know what’s coming and what’s changing. Something as simple as traffic changes that lead to quicker commute times can be enough to convince a buyer. The best thing about becoming an expert on these kinds of changes is that they’re relevant to every home in the area, so don’t be surprised to notice that you’re repeating yourself when selling the area. Your clients will love information on lifestyle and business changes taking place in their area of interest.
8. Track your data and review your findings
If there’s one word that could summarize the best way to become the inventory expert in your area, it’s this: Learn. That being said, without interpretation analysis has little to no value, so it’s incredibly important that you’re drawing conclusions from your analysis. Track what you learn, including all of your inventory notes, in one place and review it regularly. We’d recommend using software tools like Notion, Trello, or Evernote, where you can divide your neighbourhoods into their own boards, workspaces, or pages. Having everything updated regularly in one place is a constant reminder of what’s going on in the market, while also being easy to reference on the fly. See if you can spot trends, flaws in your evaluations, up-and-coming neighbourhoods, and other signals when you interpret your analysis. This makes you a better agent.
Choose one area, neighbourhood, or subdivision and start from there. There’s no need to bite off more than you can chew initially. Once you’ve become an inventory expert in that area, repeat the process and expand to another nearby location. Soon, you’ll find that your knowledge base has rapidly increased, giving you more confidence both when pricing a property, and at listing appointments in general. Be sure to use REW as a resource. It’s a fantastic tool for agents looking to learn more about inventory in their market.