Housing research conducted by Harvard University projected that by 2028, 80% of all home purchases will be completed by buyers between the ages of 25 to 44, with the largest number of those coming from the 35 to 39 age group.
These future home buyers are between the ages of 15 to 35 today, and the majority of new home purchases by the year 2028 will be from people in these age groups. Understanding how today’s younger generations behave online and what forms of content are most popular with them will allow real estate companies to be better poised to sell to them in the future.
Let’s take a look at 5 strategies (based on the fastest-growing online trends) that real estate companies can leverage now to start building relationships with future home buyers.
Use micro video content
Short videos are an increasingly popular form of content with younger generations. TikTok, the social media platform that first made the format popular, already has an estimated 800 million users worldwide and 65 million active users in the US.
Part of what makes TikTok so popular is that the use of micro video lets viewers consume information at a faster pace with less action required from them. Instead of needing to load a new page or scroll through long blocks of text, users can acquire the desired information in just 10 to 15 seconds.
This method of fast and condensed information sharing makes micro videos an ideal format to use for property listings. Real estate micro videos could either highlight property pictures or show buyers what the surrounding neighborhood is like. Audio elements can also be incorporated to make browsing for homes more enjoyable or informative. For example, content creators could explore the addition of music or the use of a script highlighting selling points of the house.
Micro videos work great when shown alongside cover photos on the search results or maps page. They can easily showcase additional information about a property without requiring the user to navigate away from the results page, creating a better browsing experience.
Best of all, because companies can use existing home images to create a micro video by simply splicing together a basic slideshow and adding music - there isn’t any additional production cost.
Actively reach out to buyers where they are most active online
Today's typical internet user spends an average of 144 minutes a day on social media. That’s more time than is spent on checking emails, texting and viewing commercials combined!
And, according to a study by The National Association of Realtors, social media was cited as the best source for generating high quality leads. A Facebook message is more likely to be read sooner than an email, and instead of passively waiting for users to come back to their website, real estate brands can actively post updates based on what buyers are interested in.
There are many different social media platforms to choose from, allowing for brands to create engagement and improve communication with buyers via a variety of content types including text, images and videos.
Making investments in marketing via social media also has the added benefit of increasing agent retention. 82% of real estate agents are not using any software to help them manage their social media. This creates a great opportunity for real estate companies to innovate and create social media management tools specifically for their agents.
For example, agents would love the ability to easily update Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram simultaneously when they post new listings or want to post an update.
Providing your team with social media management tools is a great way to add value and encourage more agents to work with your company. A focus on social media also helps agents get more leads - and sell more houses too!
Play real estate agent matchmaker
With the rise in popularity of online dating and matchmaking services, the idea of being “matched” to a real estate agent could be very appealing to younger home buyers. Each buyer has their own specific and unique needs - i.e. some are more family-oriented and others more adventure-seeking. Tomorrow’s buyers will expect to work with an agent that can understand and cater to those needs.
Based on data from NAR, 89% of buyers plan to work with an agent on their next real estate purchase - and 75% of buyers interviewed just one real estate agent. This seems to suggest that buyers are not particularly picky when it comes to selecting an agent, are interested in convenience, and are likely to be happy with any recommended matches.
Online real estate companies like Homelight.com are already focusing on agent matching and creating a real estate experience that is personalized. If a buyer is convinced that they have been matched to the perfect agent for them, they are much less likely to abandon your platform for other websites or services.
This not only increases user retention and brand loyalty on the marketplace, but will also increase website usage and revisit rates from people coming back to communicate with their agents via the site or app. Companies wishing to remain competitive can do an even better job of highlighting their agents by utilizing professional online profiles complete with high-quality agent photos.
Differentiate your real estate marketplace with better photos
The property information provided on various real estate websites is usually the same across each brand, with buyers being able to find basic listing info such as price and square footage on any major realtor site.
What ultimately differentiates the most successful real estate websites from the rest is user experience. The brand that does a better job displaying information buyers find relevant and a better job providing a more enjoyable home search is the brand that will come out on top.
The National Association of Realtors surveyed home buyers and asked which information they consider to be “very useful” when searching for a home online. Not surprisingly, property photos were given the highest rating compared to other types of information.
In addition, Snappr commissioned a study of 600 American consumers conducted by Google and found that the ability to view property photos was ranked as 2.3x more important than reading detailed home information and 3.9x more important than reading neighborhood information when looking to buy a house online.
Both surveys point to property photos as being the most crucial information buyers want to see on a home search website. But getting better photos for all listings on a website is very difficult to do at scale. That’s why real estate companies should consider using an enterprise photography solution to manage all their property photo needs.
Companies can also start small by focusing on certain high-value neighborhoods and properties where having better photos will have the highest impact.
Buyers will be drawn to websites that have exclusive home or neighborhood pictures not available on other platforms, launching those real estate companies who choose to invest in better photography far ahead of the competition.
Get digital with virtual tours
A decade ago, virtual tours were wobbly and grainy with uneven images. Most mobile devices also weren’t fast enough to process virtual tours. Times have certainly changed and today’s technology has vastly improved since 2010. Virtual tour images are now clear, crisp and polished, with the majority of mobile devices now powerful enough to run them effectively.
There are also many more home buyers interested in taking virtual tours in 2020 due to current circumstances with COVID-19 closures and restrictions on visiting homes in person.
Real estate companies can even think about how to use the latest VR technology to create an extremely realistic and immersive experience that isn’t offered anywhere else. The gaming industry is already looking ahead to the future, and many predict that 10 years from now we will be playing video games using a VR headset rather than a TV or handheld device.
Real estate companies could also benefit from becoming more forward-thinking and investing in technology now that can provide a unique and powerful home buying experience tomorrow.