Thursday, December 27, 2012

In Gear for the New Year?

      Last month, the National Association of Realtors released its 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and SellersTwo things jumped out at me when I read the summary report: today’s typical buyer is a 42 year old; and 96 percent of buyers under 44—almost all—used the Internet during the home buying process.
      Consider these buyers the vanguard, and we’ve entered the era when the average home buyer came of age in a consumer culture defined by its evolving digital technologies. They are well versed in all the tools and technologies which redefined our mobile society and real estate searches and services over the past two decades. And, they will quickly lose patience and move on from anyone they turn to for advice or assistance who lacks that core competency.
As the real estate market emerges from the doldrums of recent years, the “typical” buyer will expect a variety of tech enabled services in every phase of the home buying or selling process. Pressed for time, they’ll use online photo and video tours to winnow their options. In a similar way, social networking—either your online presence, neighborhood blog or recommendations from their own circle of friends— will identify the real estate candidates to help them through the emotional buying or selling process. 
As they preview properties, online presence can be the make or break factor determining who gets that first call. Sure they want a look at likely homes,and to calculate costs of ownership. They’ll also want to tour the neighborhood, with a map showing location and nearby amenities, recreational facilities, commute times and critical reports on the local school system before they initiate contact.
Once engaged, they’ll expect all communications channels to be open, with texting the first preference. They’ll use email less so, and voice calling when a more detailed response is required. For those out of state, video conferencing and virtual meetings will serve to familiarize them with you, and facilitate the process. In fact, live open houses, and virtual closings will eventually seem routine. 
When visiting homes or an area, they’ll expect you can provide information on the spot, via smartphone or tablet, on any home or property you pass. If you can’t summon the answers, they use theirs....leaving them wondering why they’re riding around with you.
Ebook readers, these consumers already understand digital forms and documents, and the convenience of electronic signatures. Once they’re under contract, texted updates should suffice, but they’ll also want the option of monitoring progress toward closing on their own, through a secure transaction management system.
Success in real estate is still built on personal relationships, but the tools and client expectations have changed. Today’s typical buyers came of age in a digital world, it’s shaped their world view, how they interact and communicate. Everything you’ve read is already available. With technology, availability becomes necessity, for those in the know.
Good Luck in the New Year!