Putting the consumer’s needs first is imperative to success, according to Marilyn Wilson of the WAV Group, a real estate research company.
“As an industry, we often don’t think about what the consumer wants,” Wilson said. “NAR’s research shows that the average REALTOR® is 45 years and older. The average homebuyer is 45 and younger. This is causing some disconnect.”
For example, Wilson notes that many younger clients don’t expect REALTORS® to research homes for them. “They do, however, expect instant responsiveness from their REALTOR® so returning phone calls or e-mails at the end of the day isn’t going to cut it,” she said.
Today’s average client expects REALTORS® to e-mail them or provide them online access to the contracts, reports and disclosure documents. “They like transparency and taking transaction management paperless is key,” she added.
REALTOR® online reviews are becoming more popular as well. “Many agents are insecure about what clients will say about them but referrals are how we get business. You work hard to build a strong reputation and it’s important that the industry begins to realize that online reviews are happening whether we want them to or not,” Wilson noted. “It’s a matter of whether we control the process or continue to give it away to third parties.”
Garnering younger consumers takes education, not advertising. “Instead of telling consumers you have 35 years of expertise, share your expertise,” she said.
Wilson said other changes include:
Push marketing is out. Success today is related to “pull” or “attraction” marketing. You should be attracting clients to you by educating them on the local real estate market and demonstrating your expertise rather by advertising or broadcasting how great you are.
Performance transparency. What you do and the service you provide will be discussed openly on the Internet.
Today’s customers expect you to be there all the time. Mobile applications make this possible and necessary.
More companies will go virtual. The industry will continue to see a decrease in the need for big brick-and-mortar operations.
Transaction processing will continue to grow more efficient. Transaction management platforms, online forms and tablet computers will make paperless transactions the norm.