What we can do in spite of few listings
If you look for a home anytime between Thanksgiving and late February, you will find that the housing inventory is minimal.
We know this.
We know this is an annual pattern.
…and it still feels unsettling.
I know that if you are eager to close ASAP, it does not matter what I say or any data that we discuss: the antsy feeling you have that you might have missed all the best houses last year (you didn’t), or won’t find a house this year (you will) is real and intense. I’ve been there.
But let me say this…unless you have a concrete need to move ASAP, may I suggest just enjoying the winter season? The days are short, the ice is slippery, and the listings are slim. It won’t be much longer until we will be spending a few hours together touring homes every weekend.
However, if you can’t wait, let’s talk. It does not matter if you are a first-time buyer, or a homeowner who wants to move in time to list their current home this spring, there are things we CAN do to find you a great house today.
Domino Effect on Buyers and Sellers
Most of the year, I tell clients to lean on our online listing services (locally this is called IRES MLS). However, this season we may get more proactive and creative than the rest of the year. Low inventory impacts both buyers and sellers. Even if buyers are ready and able to purchase a home; they have very few homes to see.
And with few homes on the market, sellers also face limited options for finding their next home.
Anyone who wants to move feels the impact of low inventory!
Buyers (and sellers) need to stay positive and use this quieter time to their advantage. Right now there are fewer bidding wars and less competition. It can be a little easier to secure a contract if we do find the right place.
Out-of-the-Box Strategies to Find Your Home Now
To better deal with the lack of supply, there are strategies that I use more during the winter to find homes. There are also some actions you as a buyer need to take, too!
And if you are selling and buying, you need to shift your perspective and strategies, too.
For buyers —
- Be very clear about what you are looking for in a home. Having more clarity can help us look for off-market homes for you. Yes, that’s right: it’s possible to find a home for purchase that is not yet officially listed.
- Understand that this isn’t your usual market. Your plans will still come to fruition. Your next move may be delayed, but it won’t be delayed forever.
For sellers —
- Be open to new strategies. We can come up with a plan that matches the right buyers for your home. Buyers who are eagerly searching right now are among the most determined buyers you’ll see all year. Few casually look during the low inventory season–it would be like window shopping without storefront displays…very low yield ; )
- Stay positive about price negotiations. Put your blinders on and ignore the national news. MLS data show that median sale prices in Boulder County were up 9.8% from December 2021 to December 2022. Over the same period, median sale prices in Larimer County were up 29%.
Matching Buyers to Potential Sellers
When inventory is low, we can get creative and proactive in finding a home that’s the right fit for you. Matching sellers with determined buyers can be a win-win for everyone!
1.) Off-market forums and groups. I commonly post my buyer clients’ needs in forums and work with other reputable agents in the area who may have listings that are not on the market. This can be a productive way to find homes.
2.) Reach out to my homeowner clients. I reach out to clients who have expressed interest to sell at some point and are thinking about prepping their homes for sale. This is another way to find homes that match your criteria. Keeping these potential sellers’ plans moving forward can help bring more homes to the market.
3.) Letter writing campaign. For my buyers who want to live in a specific neighborhood or development, letter writing campaigns can be a successful strategy. You may (or may not!) know that I am a published author and that my writing has helped secure millions of dollars in investments for western river conservation. In other words: this is no casual form letter — it’s a letter that will put you on the strongest track to finding a home before it’s listed.
Letter writing campaigns can be effective any time of year, but especially during this time of year since so many sellers hold off from listing during the winter. By reaching out directly, buyers can find sellers who don’t want to wait until spring!
4.) Being proactive vs. waiting around. While we can wait until something comes up on the MLS, at this time of year that strategy typically doesn’t lead to the best possible match for your home criteria. I contact other agents, past clients, and post on community board looking for anyone who might have a home that would fit your needs.
As you can see, being more strategic and having a plan of action that is more proactive can work when inventory is low, as it typically is during this time of year. If you are looking to move during this very low inventory season, reach out so we can put these and other strategies to work for you!
I'm Libby Earthman. I specialize in helping first-time buyers and sellers on Colorado’s northern Front Range. I want you to know HOW to make well-reasoned real estate decisions, and I assertively protect your interests during the transaction.
402 Main Street
Longmont, CO 80501