As a real estate agent there is a combination of consumer trends that can be threatening your ability to be a useful player in the home purchasing process. Knowing what today’s consumer is thinking is the best way to overcome those threats.
The Online Search
It is no secret that today’s consumer is relying more and more on technology during the house hunting process. As an agent it is important to know that buyers, including seniors, are using more than one site to research the homes available in their preferred area.
A recent review by Consumer Reports showed that the major sites buyers are using are still not as dependable or well represented when it comes to providing a complete picture of the homes currently on the market. The report reviewed major sites including Redfin, Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia and found that each site had a few shortcomings that made it necessary to search more than one site.
As an agent you have to make sure you are covering all of your bases and posting your listings on all of the major real estate search engines so that your listings can be found. You also want to use SEO on your own site, and in the description of your property for virtual tours to help people searching for houses in your area find you.
Technology and FSBO
There has always been the threat of FSBO taking business away from you. However, with technology providing an easy way for homeowners to research the home selling process, it makes it seem even easier for them to complete the selling process without an agent. Make sure your own website is packed with helpful information to attract sellers researching the selling process. This can actually work in your favor in two ways:
It helps them to find your website and
It demonstrates that the complicated selling process really does need an agent to sell their home faster and for a better price.
Technology versus the Personal Touch
In January of this year the online real estate site auction.com announced it was changing its name to Ten-X and updating its business profile to include the sale of “traditional, move-in ready residential properties”. The site allows buyers and sellers in Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and Miami to interact online and purchase and sell homes in an easy to use process. Buyers can shop, place an offer, negotiate, sign contracts and complete the transactions online.
Keep in mind, they have their sights set on becoming a national service. As an agent it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with Ten-X and learn how it works. You want to be prepared to answer questions about Ten-X in case your more savvy clients bring it up!
The Extinction of the Starter Home
More and more first time buyers are deciding to forego the age old tradition of viewing their first home as a “starter home”. Instead they are looking at their first home as their only home for the long term. Because buyers such as millennials have this plan in mind, it is also impacting their buying schedules as they have to save more to make a major home purchase that will accommodate their growing needs.
According to Bank of America’s 2016 Homebuyer Insights Reports, 75 percent of first-time buyers said they would prefer to purchase their first home with the intent to “age in place”. As well, more and more homeowners are opting to renovate and expand their current home instead of selling and upgrading.
There are a number of ways you can work with this knowledge. First, make sure when selling a smaller home you understand what additions and renovations can be made to make it more suitable to those who are purchasing their first home and might need to accommodate a growing family. Get a feel for the price of the home and the cost of having those renovations done prior to them moving in so they can consider the benefits of having an older home customized to suit their needs. They will want to know this is an affordable option as well.
Many new home buyers are nervous about renovations, especially millennials, so make sure they understand the changes can be done before they move so the home will be “move in ready” for them.
As well, millennials who are more budget conscious might just need a bit of convincing to see the financial benefits of owning a smaller home. They are easier to maintain, have fewer rooms to furnish, have lower energy bills and are also more eco-friendly. In fact, according to Bank of America’s 2016 Homebuyer Insights Report 35% of home buyers would tell their younger less experienced selves to factor in the maintenance costs of home ownership and to stick to a budget before purchasing their home. That again leans in the favor of purchasing a smaller home.
Keeping up to date on consumer trends as well as the advances made in real estate technology will allow you to remain knowledgeable and ready to take on new challenges with ease.