RETSO 2014: Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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Transcript of RETSO 2014: Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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The Data Doesnt LieListen to Your Consumers!

@LoCoHeatherHello! Its a really tough act to follow to come talk to you about consumer feedback after youve just heard from real, live buyers and sellers, but thats what Im going to try to do. While the consumers who joined us today were able to talk about their specific experiences, Im going to bring you hard data. Im betting that some of this will match up with exactly what these consumers just told you, because this is what consumers told NAR through our survey.1NAR Research

Give them a tweet!@NAR_ResearchIf you arent familiar with NAR Research, they are the group within the association that conducts research on a wide range of topics of interest to real estate practitioners, including market data, commercial, international, home buying and selling, NAR member information, and technology. They generate local market reports, the Realtor Confidence Index, Pending and Existing home sales reports, the Member Profile, the Generational Trends report, and more. Every year, they survey home buyers and sellers to gather detailed information about the home buying and selling process. The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers provides information on demographics, housing characteristics and the experience of consumers in the housing market, including the role that real estate professionals play in home sales transactions.So lets take a look at it. This is going to be a quick look at 10 charts that you can use as a jumping off point to guide the way that you interact with your consumers, based on feedback from real sellers and buyers and what their experiences were like.I dont have a ton of time, so Im going to roll through these, and then give you a wrapup at the end. Ive also got this presentation on Slideshare, so you can get to these specific charts if you want them.


Ive blown these charts up as big as I can so that you can see the detail on them. We are starting with the Value of Website Features. These responses were from buyers who indicated that they had used the internet as part of their home search and buying process. Across the bottom, you can see that the darker blue shows that they found a particular site feature to be Very Useful, the next lighter color is somewhat useful, and the next not useful. The lightest color meant they either didnt use that feature, or it wasnt available.

Overwhelmingly, buyers found photos to be useful. Statistically, almost no one thought they were not useful or didnt use them. (Thats the captain obvious data point on this chart, right?) They love detailed information on listings, and most appreciate virtual video tours. Whats also interesting is that 29% of buyers thought real estate news or articles were not useful. Im not sure who those 12% of people are that said neighborhood information was not useful. (But I guess weve all had clients like that at some point.)3What does that mean for your website?If I wanted my website to appeal to buyers, Id have those features listed as most useful front and center, and easy to find. So what is first and foremost?

Photos. Visuals. Videoand descriptions. Now, it could be that the 28% of people who listed videos as didnt use, not available actually would have said video was useful if it was available to them. Over half of the respondents said that video was at least somewhat useful, and that wasnt a question specific to listing video, it was all types of video. If you add a portion of that 28% to them, thats a large segment of buyer audience that would appreciate video content on your site.


Okay, now lets look at what buyers said they want most from their real estate agent. Overwhelmingly, its about the house and the negotiations. That accounts for three quarters of responses. I think its interesting that the terms of the sale edged out the price of the sale in importance. Maybe that is something you are seeing with your buyer clients? Are they more concerned about terms than price lately?

In any case, the financial piece, the affordability of the home and finding financing, those got miniscule response rates, comparatively. And teaching a buyer about the neighborhood or area is even less than that, which actually surprises me a bit.5So, how do you adjust your dialogue to match this?I love this chart, because it really outlines what buyers value most in their agent. Take this and think about the conversations that you have with buyer clients. First and foremost, its about finding the house, and how you can help facilitate that. Of course, how that happens is going to be a little different for each buyer you work with. But if you approach your dialogue with buyers with this at the center, youll stay focused on their main goal.

From a marketing standpoint, how much time do you spend sharing information about home sales data and how that relates to the buying process? If only 8% of buyers see that as something they are looking for from their buyers agent, how much time and effort should you spend on that type of information?6

Next up, along the same lines, this chart shows what buyers said the most important factors are when choosing an agent. Theres a little more parity here.

The largest slice of the pie is agent is honest and trustworthy, at 25%. The next largest is reputation of agent, at 21%. (Im going to assume they mean that the agent has a favorable reputation.) And 16% said it was most important that the agent is a friend or family member.

Can you guess which response Im drawn to here? Agent seems 100% accessible because of the use of technology like a tablet or smartphone. Just 4%. Looks like buyers dont give a crap what kind of technology you use. So theres no reason to brag about that in your marketing.7

Now lets dig into how important some of these skills and qualities are. This graphic shows you some skills that were ranked as very important. Again, this question was posed to recent home buyers.

Not a shock, that honesty, integrity, knowledge of the process and the market, and responsiveness all got responses above 90%. Negotiation, communication, and people skills were a little less important. Again, we see that knowledge of the local area is lower on the list than what I personally would have expected, at 79%.

And again, skills with technology? Not necessarily important to buyers. 8% even said it wasnt at all important to them.8What does your marketing say about you?Unless it emphasizes honesty and trustworthiness, you better make some adjustments, right? How often do we fall back on messaging that isnt the primary reason someone would work with us? Buyers clearly dont care if you are tech savvy, so dont use that in your dialogue (and by dialogue I mean both the conversations you have with them and the marketing that you put out, including your social media postings.)

These charts spelled out WHY they chose their buyers agent. You cant help whether or not you are related to someone, so throw that 16% away and focus on the folks that are trying to find a trustworthy agent. How can you tell that story with your marketing?


One last buyer response slidelets take a look at what methods of communication buyers find important. The chart also breaks down the difference in responses from first time buyers versus repeat buyers.

Top of the list is a personal call to talk about activities, with nearly 80% of all buyers saying that is important. Almost as important is sending an update for new listings, price changes, or under contracts on properties that fit their search criteria. All of this makes good sense.

The interesting part is what buyers didnt find important: advertising in newspapers, being active on Facebook, and having a blog. Even having a website isnt of huge importance. 10What do the most important communications all have in common?

They are personalized and tailored to the client. The newsletters, the print advertisements, the mobile responsive website all of that was trumped by the bread and butter communications that speak to exactly what that client needed. 11

Now we are moving on to responses from the home sellers that participated in the survey. Here, we are looking at how sellers found their agent, along with a breakdown of First time and repeat sellers. Does anything jump out at you when you look at this?

There are only two statistically significant answers to this question: Referred by (or is) a friend, neighbor, or relative. And Used agent previously to buy or sell a home. Those two combined account for 64% of all sellers. If you add in the referred by another real estate agent or broker response and the referred through employer or relocation company response, that puts the total at 71%.

12How much time and money do you spend chasing the other 29%? Is that spend proportional to the amount of business that comes from it?13

Another sellers slide. This shows the number of agents that a seller contacted before they decided who they were going to list with. This is another one of the data points that surprised me when I got this report. I would have thought that there would have been more folks at least in the two response category.

So only 34% of listing calls are a competitive situation. And for most of those, youre only competing against one other agent.

14Is it what was said in the first conversation, or had they already decided before they reached out?I wish the data could tell us that, wouldnt that save a lot of time and energy?

If the seller didnt completely make their mind up before they reached out, then the contact with the agent confirmed it. Were they just verifying that the agent was who they thought they were? (Either based on a recommendation or referral, or on the research