The Tipping Point: A Guide to Cultivating Sellers

Homeowners have different tipping points that move them into action and even in a neighborhood of similar homes with similar values, the tipping point for one homeowner may be drastically different than their neighbors. Perhaps one homeowner loves the neighborhood, is close friends with all her neighbors, has children that are friends with the neighbor children and she wants to live in that neighborhood forever. However, just two doors down, there is a retired, empty nest couple who is ready to downsize and move to a condo on the golf course. These homeowners’ motivations are clearly different.

tipping point - scales with house and money balancing

Most homeowners don’t think about what their tipping point is on a regular basis. In fact, until someone either walks through the door with a check or otherwise makes an offer, that homeowner may not realize the market is close to their tipping point. Therefore, it is up to you to let the homeowners know that others in the neighborhood have met their tipping point.

Imagine a scenario where a homeowner retrieves the mail to find a letter from a real estate broker informing him that his neighbors’ home has recently sold. The homeowner is surprised to find out that the home sold for $425,000 and perhaps this homeowner’s tipping point is $450,000. He had no idea that homes in his neighborhood were even close to selling for anywhere near his tipping point. The homeowner then resigns himself to believing this must be a fluke or that the seller had upgrades that warranted the high sales price. The homeowner then goes about his day and doesn’t give it much more thought.

Fast forward 30 days and the homeowner receives another piece of mail indicating that another neighbor’s home just sold for $440,000. The homeowner, knowing that this second home has similar finishes to his, is now pleased thinking, “Wow, our neighborhood seems to have gone up in value!” The recent tax assessment he received indicated his home had a value of $345,000 and he just assumed this was around the market value of his home or that it was worth perhaps up to $375,000. Now the gears are turning and the homeowner now may be thinking, “Maybe $450,000 is possible for my home.”

However, the homeowner isn’t engaged enough to take action yet. Fast forward again 30 days when the homeowner receives another letter from a real estate broker, specifically addressed to him, informing him that inventory in his area and neighborhood is very low. So low, in fact, sellers are getting multiple offers which are bidding up sales prices to historically high levels.

Has this homeowner finally reached the tipping point and that prompts him to pick up the phone?

In this scenario, the tipping point has been reached indeed and the homeowner places a call to the broker to find out if this information is really true. They make an appointment for the broker to meet the homeowner, tour the home, and the rest can hopefully be predicted.

Without broker communication, homeowners have to rely on property tax statements, automatic home valuation websites, and house flyers from their neighbors’ homes to piece together what their home may be worth in today’s market. It is not like a stock where one can open a browser and type in a three letter code to learn what their shares are worth. A REALTOR® is the key piece to that puzzle and the best interpreter of market data. A homeowner can’t know with any sort of certainty if they are getting close to their tipping point without a broker with area expertise informing them with facts and information.

You may have homeowners all around you who are close to their tipping point and don’t even know it. They could be ready to list tomorrow if they only knew that by selling they could make the move they have been dreaming about.

I recommend a multi-pronged approach for keeping homeowners informed:

  1. If you take a listing in a neighborhood, send out either a Just Listed card or a Just Listed letter letting the neighbors know a home has just come on the market, what it is listed for, let them know about upcoming brokers opens and open houses (and invite them to the open house). A great additional touch is to let them know there will be additional traffic and that you are happy to put out a Slow Down sign with flags in the event they have children or pets they are concerned about. Send this and the following two letters out to around 100 neighbors.
  2. When it Pends…
    When the home pends, send out a letter indicating that now the home has pended, traffic should be reduced, and you will let them know when the home changes hands.
  3. When it Sells…
    When the home sells, send out a letter indicating the home has sold, the final sales price, days on market, and a brief overview of the demand (perhaps in terms of number of offers, etc). You can add a call to action here about setting up an appointment to review what this sale means for their property.
  4. Farm Area…
    If you have a farm area, keeping the homeowners up-to-date regarding the properties that have sold, list price versus sale price, and days on market is important. You can either include this information on your monthly mailers or send out a supplementary letter outlining the shortage, what it means to them, and they should contact you to learn about their unique property and situation.
  5. Now’s the Time…
    Even if you don’t have a farm area, you can scour the MLS for opportunities. If you have an area that has a number of homes with a high list to sales price ratio (which indicates possible multiple offers) and low days on market, you can certainly alert the neighbors that this may be an opportune time to consider selling, but each situation is unique.

These are just a few ideas to help you find new sellers in a market where getting new inventory is beginning to feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Don’t wait for sellers to call you because in this market you have to cultivate sellers. It’s up to you to help them realize that they may have already reached their tipping point.



Denise Lones


The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the go-to for all things “real estate.” Visit for more information.


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