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Today’s unprecedented events remind us that markets can change quickly. This article was written when many agents were struggling with inventory issues, especially for entry-level homes. As we all look forward to better times and re-engaging with buyers, here are several ways agents can help buyers think outside the box and see the hidden potential in properties that others have overlooked.

1. Identify hidden gems. Take a fresh look at listed properties that are being ignored. Which ones offer something uniquely valuable, like an excellent location, lot size or view? With modifications, could these homes meet your buyer’s essential requirements?

2. Line up a supporting cast. Help buyers nail down the cost of renovating a home by developing a strong network of contractors who can provide feedback and estimates. That way, buyers will know how much money must be held in reserve—and, at the same time, get additional ideas about a home’s hidden potential.

3. Sharpen the negotiating strategy. For straightforward upgrades, like new flooring or appliances, buyers may want to ask the seller to make the improvements so that the home is move-in ready. Just make sure the contract stipulates that the buyer gets to select the products or materials (with a maximum price).

On the other hand, it might be better to conceal your buyer’s renovation plans and focus on seller concessions that will give the buyer more money to make their desired upgrades after closing.

Brokers may want to review the contract to make sure the language achieves the desired results. For example, if the buyer wants more time to evaluate the property, a general right of cancellation following inspection is probably preferable to a standard inspection clause.

4. Consider creative financing. Some buyers may also want to take advantage of various rehab loan programs. Even though agents should stop short of providing financial advice, they should be able to put interested buyers in touch with the right resources.

Admittedly, it takes more time and skill to work with buyers this way. Some agents are not willing or capable of investing the extra effort. There are, however, compelling reasons to raise the bar.

Buyers are incredibly loyal to agents who see the market strategically and help them find innovative solutions. They will brag, “Our agent was SO smart and resourceful!” Bottom line, an agent’s reputation and abilities are essential factors for long-term success.

To help your agents boost their skills, consider supporting their training by encouraging them to earn NAR’s Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation. It’s a proven path for gaining an in-depth understanding of buyer representation. Learn more at

Marc D. Gould is senior vice president of Member Development for NAR, overseeing a wide range of professional development programs for REALTORS®, including the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). REBAC is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who have completed the specialized education and documented experience in working with consumers purchasing a home. To learn more, visit