As times change, it’s not surprising that a once relatively inflexible industry like real estate is now quickly refocusing its professional stance towards embracing and working alongside customer satisfaction and customer service.
As consumers today are well-armed with access to digital solutions to everyday needs, real estate agents are realizing that homebuyers are not only buying according to value for money, but also value for the time and lifestyle they aspire to lead. We take a look at a few ways in which the needs of modern consumers are changing.
First comes Financing
An interesting trend in the last few years has been the rise of homebuyers dealing with financing first. It was not long ago that every step of the process involved direction from an agent, but now as consumers become more tech-able, they are doing a lot of homework before getting in touch with an agent in the first place. In fact, almost 74% said they sought out home financing options before looking for a home at all. The reason? Getting the finance sorted beforehand left them feeling more confident and sure of what they wanted in a home - that being pre-approved gave them a more advantageous position.
Growth of iBuyers
There’s been an increased interest in this model where companies use tech to assess the value of homes and make offers on them, allowing homeowners to bypass the traditional, often stressful route, and they are attracted to the simpler, more convenient alternative iBuyers provide. While it’s still early to tell how this business model will develop, it’s indicative of just how willing consumers are to try out simpler solutions that address the stress and complexities of the homebuying/selling process. As a result, this route to selling tends to appeal to those looking for a quick sale, or sellers with some prior experience in property, and thus far, holds little appeal for the younger market, millennials particularly.
Millennials are stepping into the foray
On that note, millennials now make up the largest share of home buyers at 36%, according to the National Association of Realtors, surpassing even baby boomers. As the most educated generation in history, millennials mostly turn to online and digital solutions in their search for the perfect homes, so sites like Zillow and Trulia are a staple for many of them (74%). However, it’s important to note that a significant percentage of millennials (60%) still value working with an agent. Not only that, 84% of Gen Z and 73% of millennials say they want an agent with strong negotiation skills.
This is crucial for an agent to understand because it means in a demographic that is quick to self-educate and has higher income than previous generations, millennials still find paperwork and the legalities of the homebuying process incredibly stressful. It is up to smart agents to streamline and simplify the process as much as possible in order to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.
Tackling Tech Issues with Tech Solutions
According to the 2020 Swanepoel Trends Report, two of the most pressing issues in the industry revolve around post-transaction services and data security vulnerabilities. Regarding the former, it’s about transactions becoming more digital, and home buyers are increasingly in need of ‘extra’ services such as movers, insurance, utilities etc. The average consumer spends about $10,000 on these services within the first six weeks, so best-performing brokerages and agents are paying very close attention to how they can build a referral base to address these wider needs.
At the same time, the report found that about 30% of real estate websites do not run on a recently patched web platform, with wire fraud becoming one of the biggest security threats to transactions and consumer privacy. It is imperative that agents and agencies alike work fast and intelligently to tackle outdated systems that are robust enough to withstand future attacks and protect consumer interests.
It’s evident that in these fast-paced times, even amidst a global pandemic, new ways of buying and selling homes are emerging. Consumers seek and work well with greater transparency, and agents will do well to tap into greater tech solution capacity every day, in order to reassure and impress upon consumers that they are well-trained and suited to help them in the home-buying experience.
For more ideas on providing better customer service, see our blog: The Top 10 Secrets of Successful RE Agents