Lack of Inventory Doesn’t Mean Lack of Opportunity

Image of glasses and houses with numbers superimposed

A few years ago, change was in the air.  After years of a stagnant, inventory-abundant market, buyers were buying, inventory levels were declining, prices were rising, and brokers in Washington state were happy. All was well in real estate land.  

But fast-forward to 2018 and the pendulum has swung the other way. We have too many buyers for too little inventory. Buyers are frustrated, homeowners are afraid of selling because they are worried they won’t find something else, and the market pace is fast and furious...with an emphasis on furious.  

However, our market is constantly in flux and the way of doing business in our industry is also facing constant change. During the recession, what did we see? An upsurge of short sale experts, investing experts and HUD home experts. What do we have today? New brokerages offering flat rate options for sellers, brokers offering different levels of service and rates for listings, brokers offering to facilitate off-market listings, and other innovative business models. 

Folks, I know this is really frustrating to hear, but these business models have done well as the market shifts because they are innovating. They are finding a need in the market and filling that need. Many of you who are reading this article right now are treading water as generalists, trying to do business as usual. And you are getting pummeled by the large waves of the market as you do so instead of getting up on your surfboard of innovation and riding it out. 

Now, I am not saying that you should abandon your business model for something new and cool—far from it. There are four key things I recommend each broker that has had that, “Oh no, my pipeline is empty. Where is my next transaction going to come from?” panicky moment in the last six months do to get back on track:

Review your source of business from transactions from the last 12 months. Then, double-down on those sources. 

Did you get several transactions from your database in terms of referrals? Have you received business from a networking group that you belong to? Have you been getting leads from mailers you have sent out to a neighborhood? Then consider doubling-down on these and doing something innovative. Maybe your database could use a special personalized property report with an offer to meet in person to discuss. Maybe you can connect with your past clients during a lovely summer client event. Consider volunteering or being more-visible in your networking group. If your mailings to the neighbors are actually resulting in calls, consider doubling down and sending out to a larger area!

Have a niche market? Time to ramp that up!

Those who have named and claimed their niche markets (such as seniors, military, investors, relocation, farm areas, new construction, first time homebuyers, etc) are riding the innovation surfboard. These people-specific niches will continue to exist no matter if the market is up or down. 

Market-specific niches don’t work as consistently in all markets, but they are types of lead generation that one might turn on and off as-needed. For example, we don’t have a flood of brokers in the market right now who are touting their short-sale expertise. But there are still homeowners out there who are in a short-sale situation and need help. Sure finding a home to flip in this market is a challenge, but there are still investors who are looking for a great buy. 

Great buys are out there! 

There are great buys in your market! Don’t believe me? Do a search for anything in your market that has been on for more than 45 days. Sellers wouldn’t go through the rigamarole getting their home on the market if they didn’t really want to sell which should say “open for business” to your buyer. In this market, brokers are allowing sellers to price properties too high to start with and they are lingering and lingering on the market.  They may be overpriced, but a well-constructed offer may be what is needed to get sellers into reality. Remember, a great buy doesn’t necessarily mean low-priced; it can just mean a buy that is fairly stress-free because the buyers aren’t having to compete and waive all their contingencies. 

Also, great buys may be found in looking at a different type of product. Have you checked commercial or multi-family listings lately for your clients who are open to an out-of-the-box solution to their housing needs?

Sharpen Your Tools

There are some key materials that brokers should have in their toolbox and now is the time to make sure these are as polished and sharp so you are ready to educate and compete. Start with sharpening these five tools:

  • Your Listing Presentation – Do you have what you need to explain and wow sellers before, during, and after the presentation? Remember, this is NOT your business-as-usual listing presentation. 
  • Pricing Discussion – Do you have the props and research you need to articulately discuss importance of pricing at market with your potential seller as well as the dangers of overpricing? 
  • Open House Materials – Remember, open houses are a great lead generation source for not only buyers, but sellers as well! Spend your time wisely at them by having assorted materials that allow you to connect with attendees. 
  • Your Database Connection Materials – Now more than ever, you should be treating your database and past clients like gold. Monthly market updates, custom property reports, and ways of letting them know you are thinking of them and are of service are critical. 
  • Buyer Discussion – Do you have the materials and language to be truthful with buyers about what it takes to win in this market? Don’t waste your time with buyers who aren’t prepared or ready to do what it takes to write a strong offer!  

Remember, this is just another market. Don’t stand there complaining about the waves of the market and get pummeled. It is time to get out your surfboard and ride not only this wave, but prepare for the waves that are still out there in the ocean waiting to form through embracing innovation and retooling!

Denise Lones, president of The Lones Group and author of the weekly syndicated Zebra Report, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry with expertise in branding, strategic marketing, business analysis, and broker/managing broker training. You can reach Denise at (360) 527-8904 or at


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