Get To Know Your Buyer Prospects
Last year was a banner year for first-time buyers. "First-Time home buyers reached the highest market share on record" (47%) last year dating all the way back to 1981. The report also stated the median age of first-time buyers was 30 with an average income of $61,600.
Now there were special factors influencing the results above, like tax incentives and higher affordability, but last year's first-time buyer increase is part of a trend (the previous year was 41%) which reveals that nearly half of the buyers' market is made up of first-time buyers.
When it comes to marketing your website, this information is a clear indicator of some of the content you need. Of course, a property search is a given. Beyond that, your website should also have content geared toward providing information that is useful for first-time buyers. Some ideas would be articles on the factors that determine home price, explanations of the different types of available loans, descriptions of the home buying process and how to be prepared. Any content of this type would serve as good sticky content to better inform prospective buyers and establish loyalty.
These buyers are also relatively young, in their mid-thirties, and we know that these younger buyers are technology addicts. Find and serve them where they are; through your own branded website or blog on the Internet, in social media spaces like Facebook and Twitter, through video on portals like YouTube, as well as in ad spaces for mobile devices.
Buyers Are On The Internet
Of course, buyers use many resources when looking for a home. However, "90 percent use the Internet." Let's say that again, 90% of buyers use the Internet when searching for a home. If you currently are not actively marketing your real estate business on the Internet, you are missing the boat, big time.
Of that 90% that are searching for a home on the Internet, 87% still rely on a real estate agent to help them in the process. This is even further supported by the fact that "8 out of 10 home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent." This is great news for Realtors and clearly indicates that buyers recognize the need for professional assistance when working through the home buying process, even when they begin that process online.
Also keep in mind that the average buyer spent 12 weeks (roughly 2 1/2 months) searching and viewed 12 homes before making a final decision to buy. Some patience and a good follow-up marketing effort (like a drip email campaign) is clearly crucial in converting prospects.
The report mentioned that 40% of buyers "look at print or newspaper ads" when home searching. And it stated that a meager 3% of buyers learned about the home they purchased through print, newspaper ads, a home book, or a magazine. The trend is clear. While there are still opportunities for hooking buyers in print, it would be wise to consider spending the majority of your marketing dollars in prospecting online.
What were the most popular Internet resources for buyers? 60% used local metropolitan listing services, 46% visited real estate company websites and Realtor.com, 45% frequented real estate agent websites, 30% used other websites with real estate listings, 17% checked out for-sale-by-owner sites, and 9% tried local newspaper sites.
The data above clearly indicates that buyers wanted to see real estate listing information more than anything else. This is vital to keep in mind when showcasing content on your website. Firstly, make sure you have property search capability on your website. Secondly, be sure to feature your property search and listings in a prominent way. Give those buyers the information they really want. Don't make them dig for anything.
Don't Forget About Sellers
With 2009 being a buyers market, it's no surprise that the NAR report emphasized buyer trends and data. However, there is still some good seller information there too. Namely, if 47% of the buyers were first-timers, then that means 53% of the buyers had something to sell. This point should never be lost in your prospecting strategies both online and offline.
"Eighty-Five percent of sellers used a real estate professional" and 80% of that group used a full-service brokerage. Homes sold without a Realtor's assistance hit a record low of 6 percent. These are daunting numbers for anyone trying to sell a home on their own without professional help. Add to those facts that the "median home price for sellers who used an agent was $215,000 vs. $172,000 for a home sold directly by an owner" and the choice to use a Realtor when selling a home has never been more obvious.
A resounding "64 percent of sellers chose their agent based on referral or had used the same agent in the past." Additionally, reputation and trustworthiness were the most important factors for respondents in choosing a Realtor. This data points to maintaining a strong follow-up campaign with previous clients and your sphere of influence. Increase the reach and strength of your follow-up by integrating social networking technologies (once again, portals like Facebook and Twitter) into your online marketing effort. Doing this successfully will not only keep your previous clients in the loop of your activities, but gain you some referrals as well.
Based on the new NAR buyer and seller data, it is evident that an online marketing strategy is crucial to prospecting for both buyers and sellers. The tried and true property search is still the feature element of any real estate website, but creating some informative content can go a long way to helping the large pool of first-time buyers in the marketplace. Internet marketing is also key in picking up sellers with social networking being the main strategy to scoring referrals and repeat business in 2010.
About the Author: Steven Meinking is a professional SEO and SEM with Superlative, Inc. Since completing his undergraduate studies at California State University, Fullerton and graduate studies at the University of Utah, Steven has been immersed in the field of Internet Marketing. He has spent the past 4 years specializing in the field of real estate website marketing.