To find and engage prospective home buyers, realtors need to go where they live. When it comes to Millennials, where they live is in on their smartphones and social media sites. According to data gathered by LeadsCon:
- more than 85% of Millennials in the US own smartphones (Nielsen)
- Millennials interact with their smartphones on average 45 times a day(SDL)
- 87% of online adults in the US age 18 to 29 use Facebook, with 53% on Instagram, 37% on Twitter and 34% on Pinterest (Pew Research Center)
- Five out of six Millennials in the US interact with companies on social media sites (SDL)
Why are these metrics important for the real estate industry? They’re important because Millennials—for three years running—are buying more homes than any other demographic, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“For the third straight year, the largest group of recent buyers were millennials, who composed 35 percent of all buyers (32 percent in 2014), more than the combined amount of younger and older boomers (31 percent). Generation X were 26 percent of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 9 percent.”
The Need to Embrace Emerging Technologies
This doesn’t mean that Millennials (or any other age group) are abandoning real estate agents in favor of technology. In fact, the increasing pervasiveness of technology has simultaneously increased reliance on agents, according to NAR:
“The National Association of REALTORS®’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey found that 87 percent of buyers used an agent last year compared to only 81 percent in 1981. You read that right. As technology and internet connectivity have increased, more consumers are turning to agents, rather than fewer.”
Millennials and other demographic groups will continue to seek out the services of skilled real estate agents. To gain a competitive edge, however, realtors need to embrace the technologies and social media sites Millennials use to effectively identify and offer value to them. Here are 3 technology trends with which realtors need to become familiar to better connect with Millennial home buyers:
- Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology has been around for decades, but the marketing world is only now beginning to understand its power to move sales. As the Guardian noted in a recent article:
“The anticipated surge (in VR marketing) has thrown the medium into sharp relief for marketers, with many busy penciling VR into their 2016 budgets. General Electric (GE), one of the early adopters, has been experimenting with VR for a year, and launched a VR animated video on the New York Times app. GE’s global chief marketing officer Linda Boff, believes VR has the potential to revolutionize marketing.”
Millennials have become familiar with the power of VR through their interactions with the gaming industry, and increasingly expect smart marketing in other industries to leverage its benefits. Real estate industry leaders are already doing exactly that. For example, Sotheby’s International Realty now offers 3-D and VR home tours online. Using VR, prospective home buyers can now inspect homes from a distance, navigating floor plans and experimenting with different home style options.
- Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn collect massive amounts of demographic and behavioral data about their users, data realtors can use to fine-tune their advertising and digital marketing. Data related to employment and marital status, life stage and purchase history help realtors identify prospective buyers, and social media sites provide unparalleled opportunities to engage with them.
For example, realtors can use Facebook ads to precisely target prospective buyers using categories such as “likely to move” and “for sale by owner.” In addition to providing a vehicle for market segmentation and audience engagement, social media are among the most cost-effective forms of advertising: a Facebook ad, for example, typically costs between $1 and $5 a day.
- The Internet of Things
Since Amazon unveiled its smart home hub, Echo, in 2011, an increasing number of home owners have equipped their homes with internet-friendly devices, from smart lighting to automated temperature controls. To effectively market such homes, realtors will need to familiarize themselves with these new, smart technologies and the functionalities they offer to effectively market the benefits of smart-home features.
The pace of technological change is accelerating and increasingly pervasive. Technology will never replace the superior service top realtors offer. Rather, technology provides realtors with a new opportunity to sustain that level of service, integrating technology into their brokerages to more effectively connect with what Millennial buyers want and expect.