3 Key Market Changes Agents & Brokers Need To Know to Meet the Needs of Modern Homebuyers

Regan McGeeOctober 24, 2022

couple buys homeThe real estate industry has felt a palpable shift in consumer behavior over the past few years that stems from the entrance of Gen Z and Millennials into the market. Young homebuyers are consumers who have rarely, if ever, lived without technology — they are used to having endless options and research tools available at their fingertips through mobile phones, smart devices and wifi access, and they have entered into the real estate market expecting the same experience. This behavioral shift mirrors a larger trend we’re seeing across every industry: the consumer is taking back the power in the purchasing process. Many real estate agents and brokers might not know how to react or adjust to this new, more consumer-centric landscape. First, they must understand three key market changes that can help them adapt to this new way of selling houses.

#1: Consumers Want to Search for a Home Remotely

Even before the pandemic, Millennials and Gen Z consumers grew comfortable with accessing spaces digitally, in real-time and with minimal effort. From virtual apartment tours to e-commerce tools that allow users to preview their purchase by superimposing the product image onto their own floor plan, these younger consumers recognize (and have begun to expect) the freedom these technological advancements offer them without ever having to step outside of their home. Cue COVID-19, when this consumer behavior was dilated and expanded to the entire industry almost overnight. Out of necessity, virtual home tours and remote sessions with realtors became the norm as the world navigated the global health crisis. Now, as we finally emerge from the pandemic, savvy agents and brokers will embrace these changes as net-new tools that can help expand their business and elevate the client experience, rather than reverting back to when in-person walkthroughs were the only way. The pandemic proved that virtual real estate experiences are possible, and the modern home buyer or seller may no longer be interested or incentivized by in-person open house gatherings, no matter how many fresh-baked cookies the agent provides them.

So, how can real estate professionals support these new expectations? Technology. By investing in digital assets like HD photos, 360-degree video tours, digital mockups, drone photography, and virtual showings, realtors are more likely to appeal to much larger demographics and effectively widen the net of their potential business.

#2: They Crave Choice & Control When Purchasing

home for sale imageThe power of publicly accessible, aggregated price data and customer reviews has already been proven through platforms like Expedia, Amazon, and Yelp. In fact, rating systems and community-driven data have penetrated nearly every platform in the market today, from driver-rider scores on Uber to “Superhost” designations on Airbnb. When looking to complete temporary or small-scale transactions, buyers want to be able to narrow down the seemingly infinite amount of vendor and product options by better understanding the experiences of others and setting expectations for their own.

Why, then, would we not capture those buying behaviors and preferences in real estate? When deciding on what may likely be the biggest purchase they’ll ever make, it is important for agents and brokers to support home buyers with the same level of ease, accessibility, and transparency that they get when comparing prices and reviews on other goods and services. Choice, even over price, is the factor that is driving consumers today. It’s why buyers are increasingly less interested in paying standard market commission rates for agents across the board. It’s not a question of paying agents less, it’s a matter of ensuring that they feel totally comfortable, informed, and confident in the choice they made with which agent they use.

#3: They Value Connection & Transparency from Agents

Once empowered to make the choice they feel most comfortable with, modern real estate consumers focus on the connection they have with their agent and the transparency they feel come through that relationship. Since younger home buyers and sellers are not relying as much on traditional word-of- mouth realtor referrals from friends and family, they want to be able to access unbiased background information and experiential insights for those involved in their real estate journey. For brokerages that wish to remain competitive, this can look like rounding up KPI data on their agents (transaction history, reviews, years of experience, specialties, and other success statistics) and providing some metric that indicates the fit between the agent and prospective client.

Businessman,Signs,Contract,Behind,Home,Architectural,Model,Discussion,With,AOnce an agent is hired, consumers expect the same level of transparency that connected them in the beginning to carry through to closing. They want to know that they have the full-picture view of their purchase and are being truly heard throughout the process. They may be asking themselves: How firmly will this agent advocate for my needs? How much room is there to negotiate, and how aggressive can we be? What can I expect from my agent after I enter escrow? In other words, initial disclosure is not enough. Home buyers and sellers want to know that their agents care enough and will take the time to educate them on the terms, conditions and complexities of the transaction. It’s important for agents to recognize this and approach client communication with openness, empathy, and patience from the start.

While these trends signal a breakaway from some industry practices that have worked in the past, agents and brokers shouldn’t fear them. In fact, this shift presents net-new opportunities and upsides for both parties throughout the experience. By implementing it into their plan of action, agents will have more time, less travel, deeper transparency, and faster/better-fitting closes with clients who feel supported.

About the Author

Regan is the founder and CEO of Nobul, a PropTech solutions pioneer and digital transformation expert for the real estate industry.

Last Updated: 10/24/2022

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