In 2016, 51% of consumers shopped online for most of their purchases and use of smartphones for online shopping grew 7% in one year to 44%. (according to comScore survey as reported by Fortune.com)
So it would seem as no surprise that homebuyers would approach their purchase in a similar way as online shoppers. In 2016, 44% of home buyers looked at properties online as their first step in finding a new home, based on a 2017 Real Estate in a Digital Age report by the National Association of Realtors®.
Digital Age Home Search
Think of all the benefits of using digital media to launch your home search. In an instant, homebuyers can leverage a multitude of real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia and MLS to commence a search to purchase a home.
Whether commuting, at work or having coffee with friends, buyers can conveniently conduct an online search to enter the living room – and then some of their potential new home. Search options enable homebuyers via desktop, tablet or mobile device to compare and contrast homes and view them via slide shows, virtual tours, drone images, and videos.
The ability to conveniently initiate a home search online serves to educate and motivate buyers even before they contact a Realtor® or step into a home.
The Realtor® Role in the Digital Age
According to the same NAR report, Realtors® remain the preferred conduit to buy a home with 88% of buyers engaging a Realtor® in 2016. The only thing that has changed is the method to get there – from requesting friend and family referrals to finding a realtor through online search!
Realtors® must be savvy and leverage new technology to establish an online presence, attract and engage with prospective buyers and sellers, and market homes. Some of these digital age practices include social media profiles, blogging, digital advertising, digital photography, drone photography and videos, email marketing, mobile email, and texting.
Here are some additional findings from the 2017 Real Estate in a Digital Age report by the National Association of Realtors®.
➡ Home Buyer Demographics*
Millenials Lead the Pack…
*Generational Breakdown: Millennials/Gen Y, ages 19 – 37 | Gen X, ages 38 – 51 | Young Boomers, ages 52 – 62 | Older Boomers, ages 63 – 71, Silent Generation, ages 72 – 92
➡ The Generations agree that the Most Difficult part of the home buying process is finding the right property.
➡ Median length of home search in 2016 was 10 weeks all generations spent 8 weeks searching except for Generations X who spent 12 weeks.
➡ Homes that Go Digital – Smart Homes
62% of Realtors® said Smart Locks were the most important smart home devices to clients. With lights (61%) and thermostats (60%) as the next two smart home devices important to clients.
Advice For Realtors® in the Digital Age
To be successful in today’s digital real estate market, Realtors® must embrace technology and stay above the learning curve with technology both in knowledge, application, use and communication with customers.
Social Media, particularly Facebook, is prime real estate (pardon the pun) for advertising and promoting Realtor® services and homes for sale.
To best serve customers, Realtors® should have the ability advertise on social media as well as interpret and analyze performance, make adjustments and communicate results to sellers.
When possible, communicate with each buyer/seller via the technology of their choice. Consider that technology helps us to work and communicate faster with day to day business as usual issues.
People Always Remember How You Treated Them Versus What You Said
Embrace and get ahead of technology but don’t lose sight of building relationships with face to face and phone conversations. Speaking directly and with transparency to your customers is key to building trust and cultivating long-term relationships.
I am known for regularly saying to buyers and sellers, “The market will speak to you.” As Realtors®, the market is speaking quite loudly to us – optimize engagement with your market across optimal digital channels!
For more Information including trends Smart Home Technology, Social Media, and Realtor Technology Use, you can read the full 2017 Real Estate in a Digital Age report by the National Association of Realtors® here.
Questions? Feel free to call me anytime. (732) 320-2431
About the Author: Thomas DeFazio is a full-time Realtor® at Chris Smith Realty in Spring Lake, New Jersey serving Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
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