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Marketing Your Home to Out-of-Town Buyers

Since 2020, out-of-town buyers have become a significant force in the real estate industry. The rise of remote work—coupled with a growing sense of wanderlust—has turned these house hunters into serious contenders for the limited supply of available inventory.

It’s a golden opportunity for sellers to tap into a broader pool of potential buyers. However, the added reward comes at a cost. Attracting out-of-town buyers requires a distinct approach that goes beyond traditional sales strategies.

Embracing these savvy techniques opens doors to potential buyers who otherwise might not have considered their properties.

 Malini Jaganathan
Malini Jaganathan

“The digital world has shrunk the geography so much that I never limit my clients’ expectations when listing their homes,” said Malini Jaganathan, a realtor with Howard Hanna.

She does a lot of her marketing on social media, where she can use keywords such as out-of-town buyers, out-of-state buyers, and international buyers to attract the right target audience.

“I let search engines and AI help enhance my marketing beyond the traditional print marketing.”

Jaganathan said few of the primary and investment buyers she’s helping are from out of town and out of state. Some are even out of the country. Her most recent inquiry was from a couple from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who wish to invest in Pittsburgh. She also is helping buyers who want to use the 1031 exchange program from the sale of their California home, wanting to invest in Pittsburgh. Another is an inquiry from a physician in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) transferring to Pittsburgh for a job and requiring primary housing for his family. She credits Pittsburgh’s affordability compared with other cities, states, and countries as a compelling factor for this trend.

Melanie Marsh, a realtor with Compass, agreed with the assessment that Pittsburgh’s reasonable home prices attract buyers from nearby and afar. She referenced data from the How Money Walks website, which uses Internal Revenue Service data to track population demographics.

In 2022, Allegheny County lost the most people to Butler County, according to the site. However, Allegheny County attracted buyers from Cambria County and other central Pennsylvania communities.

“The medical and tech spaces seem to be the ones that bring people in from out of town,” Marsh said.

Jaganathan agreed, adding the education industry to the list because of powerhouses like Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh is a corridor for healthcare and education,” she said. “It brings a lot of people here.”

Knowing why prospective buyers seek properties in and around Pittsburgh is only one piece of the puzzle. Sellers must understand the home features that convince out-of-towners to take the next step and submit an offer.

Buying sight unseen is a risky endeavor for out-of-towners. Viewing a video or photos of an available property online only gives so much information. Detecting unusual smells or hidden defects that might impact the sale is harder when buyers don’t have the opportunity to inspect a home in person before buying.

However, some choose this option because of tight inventory and an eagerness to jump on properties as soon as they become available.

“Sight-unseen offers increased in 2021 and 2022,” said Marsh. “But people are getting more hesitant about doing that with interest rates so high. Out-of-town buyers must have an agent they can trust and rely on if they’re considering it.”

Jaganathan agreed, suggesting buyers choose an agent who understands their needs. The biggest conversation she has with these kinds of clients is what is most important to them. Are they working from home? Do they need to achieve a set travel time to a specific location? Do they care about the quality of the local schools?

“They don’t know about traffic patterns, for instance,” she said. “They don’t know about our bridges and tunnels and how to navigate them. It’s my job to help them find the ideal location to fit their needs.”

For sellers, Jaganathan and Marsh offered some tips on how to get ready to sell their homes with a focus on out-of-town buyers.

“Decluttering and presenting your home are the most important parts of selling to out-of-towners,” said Jaganathan. “People looking at your property virtually may commit to buying it before seeing it in person if you present it in the right way. I spend a lot of time helping clients with the presentations of their homes.”

Marsh agreed, adding that professional staging is a key component of making your property more attractive to buyers outside your location. She strongly advises her clients to consider working with a stager to set the right mood.

“If you’re still living in your home, have your agent or professional stager use your existing furniture with some outside décor to make the house shine,” Marsh said. “Buyers do not know how to envision themselves in a space. An empty house with no future lets them notice imperfections.”

While some home renovations – kitchens, baths – earn a high return on the investment, not all sellers have the cash on hand to make those kinds of cosmetic updates. Marsh suggested sellers who want to get the most bang for their buck should instead focus on things that make their home move-in ready.

“Cleaning, painting, and replacing flooring are the things people don’t want to work on before they can move in,” she said. “There’s not a lot of temporary housing options here in the Pittsburgh area, so people need to have those things done before they can move in.”

Both realtors also touched on the importance of pricing your home appropriately when hoping to attract buyers from everywhere.

“Buyers who are being relocated for work tend to be looking in higher price brackets,” said Marsh. “Luxury homes sell faster when they feature video tours that highlight the property’s features and layout.”

Jaganathan said in a real estate market as complex as this one, sellers need the expertise of a realtor who caters to buyers in all locations.

“Pricing your home right is extremely important for making it attractive to local and out-of-town buyers,” she said. “To capture a larger audience, you need to use a seasoned agent backed by a great brokerage firm to find that one right buyer. Howard Hanna is affiliated with Luxury Portfolio International to promote luxury listing worldwide. We also use the print medium through the Hanna Luxury Magazine to captivate audiences from across the country.”

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