Relocation Buyers in the Time of COVID: Who They Are and What You Need to Know
Pre-pandemic, relocation clients were largely moving to big cities. They were international buyers, professionals with new, executive-level jobs, and often, their companies were even footing the bill for the move (and the entire house or apartment).
While those buyers still exist, there’s also a new picture of relocation buyers emerging: Let’s call them “the pandemic escapers.”
These are families, first-time buyers, and everyday Americans looking to make a change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They might be leaving more crowded urban areas in search of more space to spread out. They may be moving closer to friends and family after months of quarantining solo. They might just be headed to their dream city, since morning commutes and proximity to work no longer matter for many people.
Whatever their reasoning, these aren’t your average relocation clients — and working with them is a bit different than agents might be used to. Here’s what you need to know.
1. They are probably looking for a larger property.
Most people aren’t downsizing right now. In fact, they’re doing just the opposite. After months cramped into small quarters with kids, pets, and spouses, today’s relocators are on the hunt for space — and lots of it.
That goes for both the house and the lot size. Buyers might want more square footage, bigger backyards, more bedrooms, or all of the above.
2. They likely want something suburban or rural.
Few buyers are moving to the city right now. For one, most people are working from home, so being close to work is no longer a must. On top of this, urban areas tend to be harder to social distance in, and thus come with a higher risk of infection for many people. For these reasons, most relocation clients are steering clear of these cities (or even fleeing them) in favor of more suburban and rural communities.
Due to this, you’ll need to be ready to do a little driving on these clients’ behalf. You’re probably going to need to canvas a bit wider than you normally would for a relocation client (especially given today’s inventory-strapped market).
3. They are probably on a lower budget than traditional relocation clients.
Before the pandemic, a large chunk of relocation buyers were moving due to a job change. And in many cases, those jobs would pay for the property and even the moving costs. Today’s relocators are different. Not only are they dealing with the economic stress of the pandemic, but they’re largely moving for personal reasons — not jobs. That means they’re footing the bill and are typically working with less cash when buying.
4. They will need more help than ever.
Agents usually need to be the ears and eyes for relocation buyers, but the pandemic has amplified that need even more. Thanks to COVID, relocation buyers are finding it even more difficult to participate in the buying process. Travel is difficult, there are childcare and homeschooling struggles, and many sellers just don’t want buyers in their homes.
Because of this, you may need to put in a bit more work with these buyers. That means offering FaceTime and virtual tours (multiples times, too), coordinating online document signing and even closing appointments, or maybe even being your buyers’ power of attorney in some cases.
5. They might have some unique demands.
These are strange times, and people are working, schooling their children, and exercising largely at home. They’re also cooking more, spending more time with the family, and just all in all staying at their house more often than was previously typical.
For these reasons, your relocation buyers may have some pretty specific demands when purchasing a property. They might want workout amenities, like a pool or home gym area, or they may be on the hunt for a spacious study or home office. Large backyards, play rooms and media rooms, and other at-home entertainment amenities are also top of mind — especially for families with kids.
The bottom line
Today’s relocation clients aren’t like those of the past. Most are moving for personal reasons, and they may have some unique demands (or budgets) due to the pandemic. Be flexible, stay in close communication, and be ready to hit the ground running if you’re brought in by one. They’ll need your eyes and ears on the ground — especially in today’s competitive market.
Need more help navigating the pandemic housing market or today’s ever-changing buyers? Check out Embrace Home Loans’ real estate agent resources now.