The Home Stretch: The Market, The Issues, The Strategies Going Into Q4

Written by Posted On Friday, 18 September 2020 05:00

The frost, to borrow a phrase from poet James Whitcomb Riley, is not yet on the punkin in most areas of the country, as the nation experiences a warmer than average start to fall. 

Yet the calendar reminds us we are about to enter Q4, the fourth and last quarter of the financial year for most organizations, and while Q4 typically signals a slowdown in real estate, this is far from a typical year.

“We are still wildly busy,” said Candace Adams, president and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. “Pending sales were up 45 percent in August, year over year, as buyers continue to make up for a lost spring and capitalize on low interest rates and pandemic-driven opportunities to relocate.”

Showings, including online showings, are up 70 percent over last year at this time, Adams said, and multiple offers are commonplace as buyers compete for limited supply. 

“Business is phenomenal,” said David Cooper, president, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. “We are experiencing the busiest third quarter in our history and expect to end the year on a positive note in spite of the late spring start.”

In Arizona, “we will end the year over goal with our best numbers ever,” said Rosey Koberlein, chief executive officer, The Long Companies. “Buyers are competing heavily amid rapidly rising prices - 11 percent up on average statewide and 15 percent in Phoenix year over year.”

Despite raging wildfires in the west and an overactive hurricane season in the south east, the overactive market remains on pace almost everywhere.

“Home sales are still fast-paced here in the greater New Orleans area and we expect it to stay strong through the fourth quarter,” said Lacey Conway, president and chief executive officer, Latter & Blum, Inc, Louisiana’s largest residential brokerage.

While a strong Q4 is universally anticipated, Conway said, the pace will almost certainly be impacted by several factors: the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the November election, and the severity of the season’s natural disasters - all sentiments echoed by the brokers we spoke to for this story.

Limited housing supply also remains an issue, with available inventory at no more than a 30- and 60- day supply in most regions, a drop of as much as 38 percent compared with a year ago.

   “With kids and their parents learning and working remotely, and more people viewing work-from-home as a viable long-term option, there is a big push for more space, more amenities, lower density settings,” Adams noted. 

While more listings are beginning to trickle in, she said, there is far from enough inventory to meet demand across all price points.

“Even at the high end,” said Conway, “and with prices rising, many upper-end sellers are a little late to the party.”

While Q4 activity is expected to be robust, innovative leaders are taking nothing for granted.

“We are challenging our agents to beat their own goals,” said Cooper. “I personally call to congratulate every agent who does $1 million in sales in one month, and this year, I am making more calls than usual. I spoke to one agent who did $5 million in a month and others who are breaking their own records.”

With in-person galas sidelined for the foreseeable future in favor of virtual events, Cooper said, he is actively looking for new and creative ways to recognize and thank his hard-working agents for their efforts.

Conway and her leadership team are focused on keeping agents fully informed about the most current consumer needs and wants.

“As the market goes through inevitable changes, we want our agents to be the most informed and prepared on the planet,” Conway said. “In the insecure, sometimes scary world we find ourselves living in, it is more than ever vital to provide an environment of stability and guidance.”

With online showings gaining in popularity and success, Adams and her team are honing their virtual platform.

“We know that this approach, this technique, will be a focal point in the new normal,” she said.

For Koberlein, the emphasis is on increasing listings. 

“Every agent must focus on regenerative leads,” she said. “That means not only getting listings from local sellers, but targeting out of state owners with real data that might help them decide this is a good time to sell.”

The company is providing online training, on ‘how to become a listings giant.’ While they are not mandatory, and accountability is part of the program, Koberlein said, more than a quarter of their 800 agents have already taken the course and are getting results.

Finishing strong is a long-standing strategy for Koberlein.

“We always put a big push on in the fourth quarter,” she said, “We know from experience that winding down this year is actually winding up next year.”

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Barbara Pronin

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade. She is also the author of three mystery novels and two non-fiction books.

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