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Well, that escalated quickly.

Staying competitive amidst record low inventory levels.
By Justin Kerby Feb 4, 2022

We all know listings are few and far between right now. Inventory-starved markets across Canada have driven home prices skyward, while rock-bottom interest rates continue to add fuel to the fire. Generating new listings is the challenge of the moment, but it also presents an incredible opportunity. If you can connect with sellers during times of record-low inventory, just imagine how you’ll fare when the market balances out. That should get you excited for the journey ahead. 

The times call for a dose of creativity. But first, a lay of the land. Here’s what we’re up against. 


How did we get here? 

2020 and 2021 were remarkably strong years for sales. Take Greater Vancouver, for example. 


Well, that escalated quickly.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported that residential home sales in the region totalled 43 999 in 2021, that’s a 42.2 percent increase from the 30 944 sales recorded in 2020, and a 73.6 percent increase from the 25 351 homes sold in 2019. Overall, 2021 broke the previous all-time sales record in 2015 by four percent. 

When the market outpaces the 10-year sales average by such large numbers (in back to back years, no less), inventory issues are going to sprout up. Low-interest rates helped drive sales, as did the pandemic’s reshuffling of demographics. And so, here we are, ready to take on a new adventure.  


When opportunity knocks, you’d better be home.  

Nothing’s more expensive than a missed opportunity, and building a business that never misses a shot at a listing is where your focus should be. The retention, referral, and education strategies listed below are all designed to make sure that you’re in the best position possible to win new business. 

As to who you should focus your efforts on, your past clients should continue to play a huge role in your story. Educate them, stay top of mind, continue to earn their trust, and the referrals will come. 


Be the Ken Jennings of your neighbourhood. 

We’re not implying that you need to embark on a 74-game win streak on Jeopardy. We are, however, implying that you should know as much as possible about the neighbourhoods you service. Here are a few things you can do to become the local expert


  1. See as many properties as possible, in person and online 

  2. Study and review the local data thoroughly

  3. Monitor price ranges closely

  4. Understand the characteristics of every neighbourhood you service

  5. Know the school systems

  6. Learn how to spot potential issues, especially if they’re common in one area 

  7. Stay on top of lifestyle and business changes


Take yourself out to the ballgame. 

The pandemic has changed the ways we’re involved in our communities, but as we move away from restrictions there will be more opportunities for more traditional community involvement. 


Well, that escalated quickly.


Some ideas: 

  • Get out and volunteer

  • Sponsor a volunteer project

  • Get involved with the local high school (help a sports team, speak on career day, etc.) 

  • Organize a book or food drive

  • Participate in online conversations (join local groups on social media and answer questions) 


Throw on your company jacket and start shaking hands (once it’s socially acceptable again, of course) and meeting new people. The pandemic has made being active in the community more challenging, and it’s also made this kind of involvement even more important. Help others to help yourself. 


Don’t forget to remember me. 

For buyers it’s all about location, for agents it’s all about retention. Keep communication flowing with your past clients, beyond happy birthday and happy holidays. 

Well, that escalated quickly.


It’s a lot easier to do this when you get to know people on a human level. What sports teams do they support? What hobbies do they enjoy? What parts of real estate interest them? Be in touch, be a resource, celebrate their accomplishments, connect with them on social media, understand how they prefer to communicate and remember the golden rule when it comes to sales…

…make friends first, make sales second.


Back to the future.

Well, that escalated quickly.


Time to dust off your database. Those buyer leads that didn’t respond in 2018, or that seller that never ended up listing a few years back, now is a good time to check-in. They might be cold, and they might be uninterested - but you’ll never know unless you pick up the phone and connect.


Work on your referral strategy.

Your best clients don’t just buy and sell with you, they also refer you to others. If you’ve been shy about asking for referrals in the past, times of low inventory can be good places to begin setting up a strategy. Offer incentives to get the conversation started, whether that conversation begins in your newsletter, on social media, or over the phone. There’s no harm in asking. 

Finding partners in industries that service your client base is another way to generate more referrals. Try working out an agreement with service providers you use on a regular basis. If you give a good amount of business to a graphic designer or web developer, set up a meeting to discuss how you could help refer more clients to each other. You can probably think of a few people right now that you’ve never had this conversation with, who’d be happy to discuss this kind of working relationship. 

Take note: this is one of the benefits of supporting local companies - it’s hard for a designer based in Peru to throw business your way. 


Set yourself up for success.

In times like these, we need to try new strategies that put us in a good position to find listing inventory.

Generating listings in a low inventory market presents clear challenges, so spend some time being creative and testing the waters. Focus your efforts on the strategies that provide you with the best results, and you’ll soon find that you're equipping yourself with useful tools to use for the rest of your career. It makes the journey ahead that much easier. 

And you’ll be on your way to taking more listings to market, too.

Justin Kerby
Justin Kerby is the founder of Something Great, a digital marketing agency that specializes in real estate branding and content creation. They help companies create social media strategies, newsletters, blog content plans, and advertising campaigns.
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