Background Image

California Real Estate March/April 2013 : Page 16

PLEASE JUST TEXT ME T Response Time Is Important to Buyers in Selecting an Agent Q. What was the 21% 19% 17% 14% 12% most important reason for selecting the agent that you used in your recent home purchase? he homeownership rate in the United States is approximately 65 percent and about 55 percent in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2011 Ameri-can Community Survey. Owning a home is part of the American Dream, and it is built on sacrifi ce for many, who take great pride in this accomplishment. Homeown-ership also is considered a good long term investment and wealth builder. The California housing market contin-ued to improve in 2012 with low prices and low mortgage rates. Consumers with good credit scores and sizeable down pay-ments successfully became homeowners. The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ® (C.A.R.) 2012 Home Buyer Survey looked at 800 home buyers in Cali-fornia and various aspects of their transac-tions in detail—buyer demographics, the types of homes purchased, their preferenc-es in the buying process, the details of the buying experience, and the client and real estate agent interaction. The survey posed tough questions to home buyers and they provided candid responses about their transaction experiences and working with their agents. Their responses revealed some key op-portunities for real estate professionals concerning the importance of Internet use and customer service. Importance of the Internet 6% 6% 5% We’ve known for a while now that the Internet has become an increasingly im-portant tool for home buyers. Still, the number of buyers who used the Internet during the course of their purchase was ex-tremely high at 96 percent. Buyers are do-ing a lot of research online about owning a home, neighborhoods, properties, agents, and fi nancing options. On average, buyers start considering a purchase more than three months (12.2 weeks) before con-tacting a real estate agent. Buyers also are Distressed property knowledge spending more time investigating homes and neighborhoods before contacting an agent—6.5 weeks, on average, compared to only three weeks in 2005. This is likely the result of more information being available online now, and has led to REALTORS ® getting involved in the buying process at a later point than in previous years. When it comes to specifi c online activi-ties, previewing homes is most important to buyers—they rated it at 8.9 on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most impor-tant. Also important is identifying specifi c homes that buyers wanted agents to show them (7.5) and fi nding an agent (7.2). The diagram to the right lists the ratings of oth-er buyer Internet activities. Realtor.com and Zillow are very popu-lar among buyers. Realtor.com has been the most widely used website by buyers since 2003, with 87 percent indicating that they used it in 2012. It is also the most useful website, followed by Zillow and individual brokerage websites, which have consistently been reported as the top three most useful websites by buyers since 2007. Additionally, more than half of all buyers (54 percent) found their home on realtor.com or Zillow. The use of social media in the buying process also gained some ground this year, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) of buyers using it, compared to only 52 percent last year. Buyers primarily used it for buying tips and suggestions for neigh-borhood information from friends and for viewing their agents’ Facebook pages. This form of communication is expected to grow in the future, with 90 percent of buyers indicating they are receptive to re-ceiving information about the home buy-ing process directly from their agent via social media. Buyers are increasingly fi nding agent ratings on public forums beneficial. In 2012, 82 percent indicated that they would Most knowledgeable Negotiating ability Most responsive Most aggressive 1st to respond 16 CALIFORNIA REAL ESTAT E • M A R CH/APRI L 2013 Previous relationship Most qualifi ed

Please Just Text Me

Carmen Hirciag

The homeownership rate in the United States is approximately 65 percent and about 55 percent in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey. Owning a home is part of the American Dream, and it is built on sacrifice for many, who take great pride in this accomplishment. Homeownership also is considered a good long term investment and wealth builder.<br /> <br /> The California housing market continued to improve in 2012 with low prices and low mortgage rates. Consumers with good credit scores and sizeable down payments successfully became homeowners. The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) 2012 Home Buyer Survey looked at 800 home buyers in California and various aspects of their transactions in detail—buyer demographics, the types of homes purchased, their preferences in the buying process, the details of the buying experience, and the client and real estate agent interaction. The survey posed tough questions to home buyers and they provided candid responses about their transaction experiences and working with their agents.<br /> <br /> Their responses revealed some key opportunities for real estate professionals concerning the importance of Internet use and customer service.<br /> <br /> Importance of the Internet <br /> <br /> We’ve known for a while now that the Internet has become an increasingly important tool for home buyers. Still, the number of buyers who used the Internet during the course of their purchase was extremely high at 96 percent. Buyers are doing a lot of research online about owning a home, neighborhoods, properties, agents, and financing options. On average, buyers start considering a purchase more than three months (12.2 weeks) before contacting a real estate agent. Buyers also are PLEASE JUST TEXT ME spending more time investigating homes and neighborhoods before contacting an agent—6.5 weeks, on average, compared to only three weeks in 2005. This is likely the result of more information being available online now, and has led to REALTORS® getting involved in the buying process at a later point than in previous years.<br /> <br /> When it comes to specific online activities, previewing homes is most important to buyers—they rated it at 8.9 on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most important. Also important is identifying specific homes that buyers wanted agents to show them (7.5) and finding an agent (7.2). The diagram to the right lists the ratings of other buyer Internet activities.<br /> <br /> Realtor.com and Zillow are very popular among buyers. Realtor.com has been the most widely used website by buyers since 2003, with 87 percent indicating that they used it in 2012. It is also the most useful website, followed by Zillow and individual brokerage websites, which have consistently been reported as the top three most useful websites by buyers since 2007. Additionally, more than half of all buyers (54 percent) found their home on realtor.com or Zillow.<br /> <br /> The use of social media in the buying process also gained some ground this year, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) of buyers using it, compared to only 52 percent last year. Buyers primarily used it for buying tips and suggestions for neighborhood information from friends and for viewing their agents’ Facebook pages. This form of communication is expected to grow in the future, with 90 percent of buyers indicating they are receptive to receiving information about the home buying process directly from their agent via social media.<br /> <br /> Buyers are increasingly finding agent ratings on public forums beneficial. In 2012, 82 percent indicated that they would find agent ratings at least somewhat beneficial, compared to only 80 percent in 2011. Most buyers did not rate their agent on a public forum. The 19 percent who did rate their agent used Yelp, Zillow, Yahoo Real Estate or Redfin. Clients admitted (at a ratio of almost two to one) that they were more likely to rate their agent if they had a bad experience.<br /> <br /> Consequently, it is imperative for real estate professionals to have a strong web presence and to maintain a good online reputation. <br /> <br /> Customer Service <br /> <br /> Customer service is crucial in any business, even more so in service-oriented industries like real estate. As Walt Disney said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” <br /> <br /> The best way to provide clients with excellent customer service is to focus on their reasons for selecting and being satisfied with their agents. When it comes to selecting an agent, response time is important to buyers, along with being aggressive and able to negotiate. Reputation is also important to buyers in selecting an agent; they rated its importance at 4.3 on a scale of one to five, with five being extremely important. The importance of reputation is echoed by the fact that 59 percent more buyers now Google their agents than in 2007, when only 2 percent did.<br /> <br /> Buyers were most satisfied with agents who found the best home, worked hard, and responded quickly. Communication is a key element of the agent-client relationship. The majority of home buyers prefer communicating with their agents by email and text message and expect a fast response time—88 percent of buyers expect a response within one hour.<br /> <br /> Equally important in providing excellent customer service is avoiding the pitfalls, such as reasons for client dissatisfaction. Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Slow response, ineffective/inefficient communication, undesirable communication methods, not being aggressive in negotiating, and showing homes in which the buyer is not interested are the top reasons for buyers not being pleased with their agent’s performance. To avoid making these mistakes, listen carefully to client needs and have a dialogue about their expectations up front.<br /> <br /> Opportunities<br /> <br /> To conclude the survey, we asked buyers to give their agents some advice to improve the home buying process or level of service. Here is what they revealed:<br /> <br /> > Communicate according to client preference (50 percent)<br /> > Gain a better understanding of the direction of the real estate market (45 percent)<br /> > Be more savvy about handling distressed properties (44 percent)<br /> > Respond faster (43 percent)<br /> > Have a better understanding of the direction of interest rates (nine percent)<br /> > Provide more assistance with mortgage approval (six percent)<br /> > Negotiate better (three percent)<br /> <br /> In addition to this valuable advice, the survey results revealed some key opportunities for real estate professionals: <br /> <br /> Because realtor.com and Zillow are the most popular and most useful websites among buyers, it would be beneficial for REALTORS® to center their Internet marketing efforts on these websites.<br /> <br /> Social media use is expected to grow in the real estate business, as nine out of every 10 buyers are receptive to receiving information about the home buying process directly from their agent via social media, but only 68 percent used it. Therefore, it would be useful to devise a strategy for incorporating social media into the business marketing plan.<br /> <br /> Effective marketing is key to getting the most bang for your buck, not only in terms of the various marketing methods available and the appropriate target audience, but also in terms of content. When marketing yourself and your brand, highlight the qualities that matter most to buyers, like a fast response to inquiries, being aggressive on the client’s behalf, experience and negotiation skills. When marketing properties, focus on the reasons that buyers made a purchase, such as price decreases, desire for better location and investment/ tax advantages. Also, be sure to highlight the things they value the most in viewing homes: photos, videos and statistics on comparable homes.<br /> <br /> With clients being so diverse in terms of demographic composition, it is not easy to communicate effectively, but this is crucial to delivering top notch customer service. Communicate more effectively with clients by asking them their preferred method of communication and using that method. <br /> <br /> Carmen Hirciag, MBA, is a Research Analyst at C.A.R.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here