April 27, 2020
The spring real estate market was supposed to be hot. Months of extremely low inventory, combined with high demand, led to a shortage in available homes. But just as sellers were starting to come around, COVID-19 threw the world off kilter and the spring market ground to a halt.
Unable to hold open houses or showings, many homeowners feel their only choice is to put their home sale plans on pause until things revert back to normal. But those who do so might be left scrambling to get their home on the market when restrictions are lifted.
Sellers not only have questions about timing – they’re also concerned with the financial aspect and maintaining equity. With the economy in limbo, Americans have a heightened awareness regarding how they spend their money. The idea of throwing away thousands of dollars in agent commissions is less appealing than ever.
Many savvy home sellers who understand the importance of holding onto their equity are turning to Houwzer, a modern real estate company with a reputation for top-rated service that puts the client first.
Houwzer has quickly pivoted to offering remote options that will save sellers thousands of dollars, reduce their stress, and position them for success when it comes time to sell.
Faced with months of economic uncertainty, the value of Houwzer's full-service, flat fee model has become more apparent.
Houwzer charges just a $5,000 flat fee for their listing services, plus 2.5% to the buyer’s agent. This is a shake-up from the industry standard of 6% of a home’s value, split between the two agents. For a $600,000 home, that’s a steep $36,000 out of pocket.
Home sellers save an average of $15,000 in commissions by listing with Houwzer, which is a significant value proposition when sellers are facing an uncertain market and may have had financial setbacks as a result of the shutdown. Homeowners who plan to sell and buy a home with Houwzer will save even more, thanks to Houwzer’s $2,500 Buy & Sell Bundle Rebate – money they can put toward closing costs, repairs, or anything they want.
This isn’t a discount listing agency, however. The internet has fundamentally changed how people sell their homes. What used to be a labor-intensive process is now quick and easy to scale with the help of listing sites, online marketing, and digital photography. In other words, it no longer costs 6% of a home’s value to sell it.
“It doesn’t take more money to market a $600,000 home than it takes to market a $300,000 home, so why are consumers being asked to pay double?” asks Houwzer CEO Mike Maher. Houwzer passes the cost savings on to the consumer, while paying its agents a salary so they can focus on supporting the client, rather than on making a commission.
The seller’s market is likely to persist for some time, regardless of COVID-19, so sellers might be able to get everything they’re asking for without pushback. Being able to save thousands of dollars with Houwzer, though, will help homeowners rest easy when it comes to keeping as much equity as possible – no matter what happens.
Houwzer is encouraging sellers to take advantage of this period by getting everything ready so they can capture the wave of buyer interest that will come.
“We’re advising homeowners not to panic,” says Maher. “Instead, they should be strategic in how they use this time.”
Despite the recession, home inventory is likely to remain highly sought after thanks to low-interest rates and pent-up demand. In February, there was just 3.1 months worth of inventory available – with 6 months being a healthy, at-equilibrium market. What would have been an aggressive 2020 spring market is expected to shift into late summer and early fall.
As face-to-face interactions became a safety hazard, Houwzer adapted by leaning into the technology they were already using and rolling out other remote access tools for clients. Clients can still meet with their agents via remote listing consults to discuss everything from the listing process, to pricing, to timelines, ensuring their downtime is put to good use.
“This gives the agent an opportunity to assess the home, point out quick fixes to address before listing to add value, ask important questions about your home, and lay out a competitive marketing strategy,” advises listing sales manager Trish Gesswein. “This way, sellers and the listing coordinators can begin knocking out tasks to get the home ready for the market.”
Knowing that the pandemic was creating uncertainty on the part of home sellers, Houwzer launched free Post-Covid-19 Home Selling Webinars this April. They wanted to both address homeowners’ fears with facts, while also giving them an actionable plan for the next several months.
As Gesswein pointed out during one of the recent recurring webinars, homeowners should take advantage of this extra time at home to finish off minor repairs. Fixing issues now can help homeowners maximize their listing price when it comes time to sell.
Realizing that people may not want to leave their home for supplies, Houwzer is sending $150 gift cards for home improvement stores to any client who signs a listing contract – that way, they can get the supplies they need delivered right to their front door.
Sellers are being advised to get their listings set up now with Houwzer so that they’re ready to go live with the push of a button. Houwzer also helps sellers capture the at-home audience’s interest through “coming soon” listings, which allows potential buyers to preview their homes remotely, ask questions about the property, and generate buzz.
The long days spent at home can feel endless, but responsible brokerages are still preparing for the future and helping their clients to do so as well. Amid unprecedented business disruption, it becomes clear which companies were relying heavily on outdated processes – and which companies are truly ready for the future. Houwzer serves as a perfect example of a forward-thinking agency that is ready to tackle the future of a post-COVID crisis world.
Houwzer currently services the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and D.C. regions with plans to expand, and maintains a reputation for excellent service. With over 850 online reviews, Houwzer has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars and has saved sellers $14 million in listing commissions so far.