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Posts Tagged The Real Estate Book

Real Estate Advertising and Home Buyers – Conversion is Key.

Hello?

Hello?

I travel across the U.S. and Canada talking to real estate agents on a regular basis.   Recently, I had what I would call a “very spirited” debate with an agent who, although he acknowledged that his advertising in The Real Estate Book had generated a significant number of phone calls on his listings, felt these leads were of no use if the buyer did not want to purchase the specific listing on which they called. He was adamant that he did not want to sell any one else’s listings – only his own.  

Of course you want to sell your listings, but if that home does not fit the buyer’s needs, then by all means, sell them one that does.  Seems like common sense to me. The advertising generated a phone call from a potential client.  That was the intention.  

The 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers was just released.  In that survey, home buyers were asked where they found their home.  Not surprisingly, 36% found the home they ultimately purchased through a real estate agent.

Of course they did.  A smart, top agent knows how to create a volume of leads through a smart marketing program and convert those leads to closed transactions. 

Another 36% found the home they ultimately purchased on the Internet.  Of course they did.  Listing data is rampant and home buyers search every available media outlet for information.  Hopefully, they found their home online, called the agent or drove by (12% said they found their home on a yard sign), and then called the agent with whom they were working and began to negotiate the purchase.

The advertising in which this agent had invested was working.  He just didn’t know how to work it.

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Home Buyer Research Says Home Buyers Research (more than agents think)

home buyerMy office is literally littered with research.  Ask anyone who walks in.   Research studies on real estate advertising, home buyer trends, and home seller stats.  Consumer media usage.  Email marketing trends.  Social media for real estate studies.   Real Estate Book advertiser studies.  Real estate lead tracking studies.  The list goes on and on.   

It’s overwhelming at times.  But, one of our core corporate values is that we make fact-based decisions.  Recently, we partnered with Josh Gordon, an independent media consultant to track the habits of home buyers.  We then compared that data to the assumptions of real estate agents on buyer habits.  In other words, we asked buyers how they shopped for homes and agents and then asked agents how they thought buyers shopped. There were some similarities and some disconnects.

For example, generally home buyer and agents agree on the reasons that a buyer chooses a specific agent with whom to work.  Both believe that the #1 reason is trust, followed by knowledge and experience. 

However, a disconnect lies in the reasons the agent was NOT chosen to represent the buyer.  Buyers said that, in most cases, it was simply too early in the process.  Buyers today spend more time looking at neighborhoods and homes  (12 weeks in total according to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers) and are loaded with information prior to selecting an agent to represent them. 

Where do they look for information?  They did not select a single media  for research, but used multiple sources of information to make their decisions.  Websites that feature multiple agents was chosen most often, followed by referrals from a friend or a previous relationship with the agent, and then real estate magazines.  Social media outlets were used the least followed by newspaper advertising.

One misconception agents had was that buyers relied less on these information sources after they’d chosen an agent.  However,  66% of buyers indicated that they made no change to their search habits at all.  They continued to consult all areas of information just as they had done prior to selecting an agent.  They looked through homes on multiple websites and 63% said they continued to use real estate magazines throughout their entire home search. In fact, most still consulted the same sources they had before selecting an agent.

What does this tell us?  Buyers use multiple media for their entire home search.  They research longer before engaging an agent.  They continue to seek information afterward and they choose an agent when they are ready based on what they’ve seen and to whom they’ve spoken.   This is why top agents keep their personal brand and listings in front of buyers across multiple media platforms to create top of mind awareness when the buyer is ready to act.

Stay tuned for more insights from the buyer study and from our seller study. More to come . . . .

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Want to Know More About Today’s Home Shopper? (stay tuned . . .)

I started my career in advertising as a project manager for the market research department of the advertising agency Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods in Little Rock, Arkansas in the mid 80’s under the current CEO, David Martin.   Because it was vital that I fully understood each project to manage it through the process, I was involved in every step from conception to the final conclusions and reporting.  I learned a lot not only about research methodologies and analysis, but also about consumer behavior and the various industries and topics we researched.  It was a fascinating job and hooked me on research.

Today, amidst changing media trends and the shifting real estate market, research and fact based decisions are even more important.  We’ve typically conducted yearly customer satisfaction surveys and meticulously tracked leads.  Last year, we commissioned an independent survey of top agents to determine their marketing practices.  7 Smart Habits(Just how DO they make the big bucks?)  We published those conclusions in “The 7 Really Smart Habits of Top Agents” white paper.

 

 This year, we’ve expanded our efforts. 

Recently, we began a series of research projects examining the habits of home buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals.  We started with an independent survey of home buyers’ shopping trends – everything from how they chose an agent, their satisfaction levels, and the actions they take and media they use all along the path to home ownership. 

These were our objectives. 

First, to understand and predict the behavior patterns of the “information empowered” home buyer.  How are they different?  In what ways do they use the abundance of data available?  How does this data influence their decisions? And, what expectations do they have of their real estate professional as a result?

Secondly, we wanted to compare our findings to the assumptions real estate professionals make.  Do they really know what today’s home buyers want?  Are they reaching and interacting with them effectively? 

And, of course, we wanted to examine our product offering in relation.  Are we effectively connecting the home shopper to our advertiser in a way that delivers the best value available in real estate advertising today?

Last week, the management team of The Real Estate Book began to pour over the results.  Some confirmed our suspicions while others overturned them.  Quite frankly, it was a lively and spirited conversation that went on for hours (and so it will continue to do so).  

Soon, we will begin to release our findings and discussions on this blog site.  We hope you will return and join in.  How will your suspicions stack up to the facts?  Stay tuned . . . .

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