While customers should always be top of mind for any business, in the hustle and bustle of “getting work done” we may sometimes forget that they are the reason we’re doing all this in the first place.
Real estate professionals – especially agents, brokers and home inspectors – don’t usually fall into this trap. Not only do they have direct contact with every customer (a luxury many businesses don’t have), but they are also in a unique position to hear about each customer’s desires, needs and even fears.
Still, as they say, “the more you know…,” and there is always more that pros can learn about customers and prospects to help them provide better service. Below are seven things you might not have known about home buyers and sellers in general.
They like doing their own research. You probably know that a study from the National Association of REALTORS® and Google found that 90% of homebuyers “rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources.” (The study was from 2012, so this number is likely to be higher now). But did you know that in addition to researching properties and neighborhoods, homebuyers (and sellers) also research real estate pros online? That’s why it’s critical for you to have an online presence that conveys competence and inspires trust – and this applies not only to your website, but also to your social media activities.
They still value professional expertise. The 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of REALTORS® found that 89% of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home. 2016 also recorded the second lowest rate of For Sale by Owner (FSBO) sales since 1981. Conclusion? Even though they could “DIY” it, home sellers still prefer to work with a professional to ensure the process goes smoothly and that they get the best price for their home.
They don’t mind talking to a robot. According to a recent Inman Connect panel, many online home shoppers would prefer talking to a robot armed with artificial intelligence (e.g., a chatbot) before talking to a real person. Apparently chatbots are less pushy and sales-oriented. Who knew?
They’re staying put longer. Another finding from NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that the average seller stays in their home for 10 years, up from 9 years in 2015. With this type of longevity, a home inspector could make a good case for a pre-listing home inspection to help ferret out potential problems that could derail a sale down the road.
They’re downsizing. The average size of a new home decreased in 2016, the first drop since 2009 according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The drop is attributed to first-time homebuyers, many of whom are millennials who seem to prefer features over footage. You’ve probably also seen the "tiny house” trend that is gaining popularity among home owners of all ages. Is there an opportunity there for home inspectors and agents? If not now, we bet there will be in the near future.
They’re taking advantage of new technology. Last year, Redfin surveyed consumers in its primary markets and found that nearly one in five (19%) had made a recent offer on a home without seeing the property in person. While the survey’s sample size was small and focused on metropolitan markets, there’s no doubt that new technology – such as drones and virtual reality, which can be used for home tours, open houses and even home staging – are making sight unseen transactions more accessible.
They need the info. A 2016 Housefax study showed that nine out of 10 online home shoppers prefer a listing that comes with a free Housefax Property History Report over one that doesn’t. Plus, offering a Housefax Report helps build consumer confidence and trust in the listing agent.
Hopefully these real estate statistics and trends help you get to know your customers and prospects a little better.
This article was originally published on the Housefax blog.