Today’s new breed of digital real estate customer is technology savvy and digitally focused. They have so much information at their fingertips, and they use it to their advantage before they ever consider contacting you. With nothing more than a smartphone, they can find out everything they want to know about a property, investigate and find a real estate agent, schedule a showing, and apply for a mortgage—in a matter of minutes. To meet their needs, you’ll need to adapt and keep up the pace. Here is what you need to know about the new digital real estate customer.
Today’s digital real estate customer wants and expects information and content
The modern real estate customer wants 24/7 access to tons of information. That’s why so many buyers and sellers turn to online websites when searching for properties. Those sites don’t shut down for lunch or sleep or a personal life.
“The modern-day internet buyer expects information to be freely available to them and in higher detail than in the past. It’s of utmost importance for real estate agents to develop online properties that rank well for their respective markets and to basically deliver an encyclopedia of information. If you can deliver enough value to today’s internet buyers via your website content, they will contact you for actual services because you’ve established trust, credibility and added value,” says Ivan Ciraj, the head of IVAN Real Estate. It’s also important to know how they would like you to communicate with them, and how often.
Today’s digital real estate customer is much more educated
Before you even speak to a buyer, they have researched and investigated properties online, and it goes beyond just reviewing MLS listings.
“Buyers are looking at Google maps and seeing aerial and street views of a property and the surrounding properties. They’re conducting neighborhood searches and looking at social media. They know the distance to commuting routes, schools, supermarket and shopping centers. They’ve viewed floor plans, read about improvements, researched the age of the house, and reviewed property assessments. They’ve scoured through hundreds of detailed pictures and more,” says Sheryl Simon, principal of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate, a luxury real estate company in the suburbs of Boston.
While there is no replacement for touching, feeling and seeing the house, she adds, clients do come in with much more information than in the past. The goal for you is to ensure that the information they have is accurate and that their expectations are realistic.
Real estate marketing has changed forever
It used to be that you could slap your face on a park bench or post a sign, and the clients would come running. While traditional marketing methods, such as billboards, signs, bench and bus images, and direct mail still work, online marketing, such as social media, is where it’s at in today’s real estate market. “My entire real estate business is based on websites with no traditional marketing being used,” says Ciraj.
While most agents use a combination of both traditional and digital real estate marketing, more and more agents are focusing on online marketing to target today’s digital real estate customer. Adds Sean A. Haghi, CEO and Principal of Elements Real Estate, a real estate boutique with a focus on contemporary real estate:
“My first step was to hire a digital marketing manager to help manage and come up with those digital marketing strategies to better reach our target clients. We’ve also changed the way we market our properties by relying less on signage, flyers and other print materials and opting for landing pages and mini websites for each property. We also spend thousands of dollars each year to advertise via Facebook and Twitter,” he says.
Everything moves a little—or a lot—quicker
Technology certainly speeds things along and makes pretty much every process more efficient, if used correctly. To better serve today’s digital real estate customer—and make your life easier—you should embrace it with open arms.
“We are able to close several deals quicker, all at the same time. Plus, we spend less time converting leads because the customer is already so well-informed via our online presence. Before a deal may have started with a phone call—these days it begins with a response from an email campaign or an inbox message on Facebook,” says Haghi, and things just go quickly from there.