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Overcoming the Inventory Shortfall
As Todd Hetherington, CEO of NM Management, Inc./CENTURY 21 New Millennium, pointed out, it’s all about getting back to the basics. “If you want more business, you need to go after more listings and more sales.” While the DC market is all over the board—inside the Beltway alone, values are at 96 percent of where they were in 2005, properties are experiencing price appreciations of 15 percent, and inventory is down—getting in front of more sellers is key. “In order to combat the inventory shortage, not only must you get in front of more sellers, you also need to look at the listings you have and increase your conversion rate,” said Hetherington. For Hetherington, tackling this broad spectrum began with a top down approach that not only focused on retooling the company, but clients’ expectations as well. “We’ve spent the past few months retooling our listing presentations, which is one of the best things we’ve ever done, and it’s made a huge difference in our conversion rates.”

For Sherry Chris, president & CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, confronting the inventory shortage meant jumping to action as soon as it became apparent that listings were becoming scarce. “It’s a problem that some of us aren’t wanting to think about because business is up,” said Chris, who explained that the national brand’s strategy to combat the inventory shortage involved incorporating different types of listing presentations into the mix, in addition to increased training sessions dealing with how to get listings. “For our broker/owners, we took more of a strategic look by creating a scorecard on each company, which enabled us to take a deeper dive and offer more personalized service based on a specific company’s needs.”

“Last year, we started to hear from people that maybe there wasn’t a shortage of inventory, but rather we were selling more properties, and faster,” said Helen Hanna Casey, president, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. “The problem we found is that internally, many of us are using price and condition as the most important aspects in selling a property, however, the worst word we can be using today is ‘CMA’.” Therefore, the company made it a point to incorporate more training programs for their sales associates into the day-to-day business. “While 43 percent of licensed REALTORS® didn’t make a sale last year, we’ve been retraining our agents by getting them out in the field with a manager and at open houses meeting people so that they have a better understanding of what they’re doing,” added Casey. “As real estate professionals, we need to believe in housing and get consumers to believe in it as well, so we’re using metrics to show agents how they can do more by controlling listings.”