Real Estate Agents Take Note, Different Market, Different Customer, Same Product Which is Service!!

The real estate customer of today is very different than the real estate customer before the age of technology. Gen Xers (currently those in their 20s to 30s), currently make up about 34 percent of the real estate customers in the United States. Because of their technological “know-how,” they demand information faster then the average agent can provide it. They prefer informative advertising over persuasive advertising. They have limited loyalty and are becoming the advisors to their baby boomer parents.

With the onset of the Internet and very successful Web search portals such as Google, the real estate process can take 13 to 24 days instead of what used to be 45 to 60 days. Customers no longer need to rely on the real estate agent for information such as listing data and sold data because it’s readily available on the Internet. Studies show that a typical Gen X buyer takes an average of 13 months from the time he or she starts looking for a home until the home is purchased. Sellers take an average of nine months from the time they start thinking about selling their home until their home is sold. Studies also show that the average Gen X customer only takes a day to pick a real estate agent and 82 percent will go with the first agent that responded in a timely manner with quality information and services. We also know that 74 percent of the real estate customers start the entire process online.

What is it going to take to keep up and be a top notch real estate agent? You have to be first, fast, frequent, very professional and consistent.

Here are some ideas to think about if you haven’t already:

Are you first to get back to a customer when they e-mail you? The average Gen X customer expects a reply in two hours or less. If you cannot reply by then, it is important that you are using an autoresponder. Using an autoresponder will also allow you to attract the customer by using helpful links imbedded in your reply message, like your personal Web site or links to useful school or community information.

How fast do you respond? The successful agent will have a combo cell/PDA phone. Today your choices are numerous. Between the Trio, the Blackberry, and the Pocket PC, you can now have e-mail and listing data at your fingertips and be able to respond instantly to your customers.

How frequently do you communicate and market to new and existing customers? Studies show that average agents in the United States only market 0-6 months to a possible new customer and 0-2 times a year for an existing customer. If you fall into that once-a year-calendar, you are probably losing would-be customers. Remember, to be effective with a marketing program, it needs to deliver a message of value and a Web presence, or this new breed of customer probably won’t take the time to view it. I often receive “Just Sold” postcards in the mail, and the agent will ask for my business with the message, “For more info, please call...” The chance of me calling is slim to none. However, I do look for a Web site on that postcard where I can get online and see information on my own terms. This is typically the mind set of many of your initial customers. Having a place on the Web for information in the early stages is key to building relationships that will build your book of business.

In todays market some thoughts:
1) Don't mistake speed for accuracy...even though information gets back to you quickly...check it out.
2) Keep in mind that technology is just a tool, it does not substatute for service or relationships.
3) Don't get stuck in High Tech...No Touch, don't hide behind the tech.
4) As electronic communications increases so will the value of a handshake or hand written note.

Thank you to Mike Fanning, VP of Affiliate Developement for Windermere and a frequent contributing author to this blog.