Doing Business with Millennials: Tips to Engage the Biggest Group of Home Buyers in History

Don’t be fooled by media portrayals of Millennials: Born between 1981 – 1996, this demographic of people represent the biggest generation in U.S. history. With an impressive headcount of 92 million, they are slated to be the biggest generational economic driver of all time. They’re taking advantage of the hot job market to advance in their careers, and earning more disposable income than ever. This, combined with an increasing desire to ditch the shared apartment and enter the housing market, is certain to result in a surge in home sales. While connecting with this group requires a gentle touch, our roadmap will help you better engage and be successful in gaining not only their trust, but their business as well.

The impact of Millennials

Let’s first look at the economic realities of the Millennial generation:

This group is — finally — growing up. Their path to maturity is a bit divergent from their parents’ generation, but they still want to build wealth and security. Homeownership is clearly a key element of that, and two key factors are driving this trend:

  1. Millennials are starting to get married, and according to Richard Green of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, “…marriage is the number one predictor of whether people buy homes.”
  2. The rising cost of rent in urban areas across the country has gotten out of hand and,  according to Green, buying a home in a reasonably priced community is finally being recognized as a more attractive option than shelling out an exorbitant rent in a trendy part of a big city.

86% of Millennials would rather receive a text than a call.

The Millennial mindset

An issue for real estate professionals, is how to serve this unique group by getting them educated about real estate and into the market as buyers. Three key factors are important to understanding this group:

  • Technology: To reach this group, you’ll need to meet them where they live: online. You should know that 75% of Millennials prefer texting over in-person communication, and 86% would rather receive a text than a call. They don’t check voicemails, but they are obsessive about their Twitter feed, Instagram posts, and Snapchat stories.
  • Relatability: Millennials prize emotional intelligence, which for them is a combination of trust, understanding, and empathy. In a study by the Levo Institute, 80% of Millennials indicate that emotional intelligence is something they actively focus on in business-related relationships.
  • Finances: This age group is shouldering massive amounts of college debt, which makes them fairly debt-averse and financially conservative. They have also been shaped by a green cultural shift and value sustainable and environmentally-friendly approaches to buying and living, often resulting in a “less is more” consumer attitude.

 

Making the connection

To effectively engage with and represent this age group and their real estate needs, there are some things you can do to make yourself stand apart from your competitors. These are not terribly complicated, but could potentially require a shift in some of your work habits and styles:

  • Get digital: You must have a website, and it has to be simple, sleek, and user friendly; it’s just what Millennials have come to expect. It should be updated regularly — 75% of people in this group take a disliking to websites that are not dynamic nor up-to-date. One way to combat this is to change the featured listings on your homepage every few days, and to also blog about trends and topics that may not be specifically about buying a home, but are related. Tips for green landscaping or DIY home improvement projects would be good candidates.
  • Get social: A study by the McCarthy Group discovered that 84% of Millennials don’t like traditional advertising. So what do they trust? Social media. You need active Twitter and Instagram accounts – and you have to make them interesting… not just about advertising your services. Millennials like a story, and the stories you tell in social media should be about the home buying experience, not just you trying to get their business. Make your content visual, which in theory should be fairly easy for the real estate industry. Pictures of houses are great, but if you add more detail and show the finer points of homes, yards, and neighborhoods, you’re surely get a nice boost in engagement.
  • Get validated: Gartner says that 84% of Millennials are influenced by online reviews and comments. Make sure you’re getting your existing clients to write reviews for you on social media channels and recommendation websites 
  • Get connected: Text, don’t call. Send pictures of properties immediately through text; don’t wait until you can get back to the office and post them to your website. You want to demonstrate that you’re always working on their behalf as well as utilizing the technology and tools available to create a unique connection. When it’s time to deliver documents, use email rather than the U.S. Postal system.

We cannot escape the facts presented by demographics, and the reality of our world is that the Millennials and their new approach to the American Dream – which still includes home-ownership. If they can find a trusted, valued advisor who understands their unique needs, they’re going to be eager to engage and choose you to lead them in their journey.

Making a 1 Star Review Look Like a 5 Star Opportunity

In 2018 it’s harder than ever to hide from public opinion, and even harder to ignore what consumers think about your business. The necessary evil of the internet has given everyone who owns a computer, smartphone, or tablet the ability to express their opinion to millions with a review by just a click of a button.

In life and in business you are only as good as your reputation. Engines like Google, Facebook, and Yelp have forced business owners to take notice of their online presence. Online Reviews have created many new challenges to business owners, whether it is getting more reviews, getting positive reviews, or even responding/handling negative reviews.

As much as 54% of Americans who read online reviews indicate that they pay more attention to extremely negative reviews when trying to make decisions. It’s easy to get swept up if you receive a negative review, take it personal, get angry, or think your business will come crumbling to the ground. We have good news: you will survive!

Here are 3 ways you can handle those negative reviews like a pro:

1. Don’t take it personally

It’s easy to get rattled by a negative review, after all we’re all human and we have feelings/emotions. The worst thing to do is respond to a review until you take a step away and breathe. One of the worst things you can do is respond out of emotion and not with logic.

Empathy goes a long way. If someone spent money on your service or product and they were not satisfied, try to take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. By using this technique you will have a clearer and stronger response.

2. Be Genuine.

The review might have been negative, but the way you should look at it is that someone cared enough to take the time to review your business. That means the customer is looking for a resolution or is giving you feedback on how to fix an issue. This gives you an opportunity to learn and grow from any mistakes you might have made during the customer experience.

78% of consumers say that hearing from management about their reviews makes them believe the business cares more about them. Whether you truly mean it or not, make sure to always be apologetic when responding to a review. If your approach is professional and shows empathy, future customers will see your response and more likely be impressed by how you handled it. This in turn will reassure them that they would like to do business with you. In addition, be sure to leave a way for them to reach out to you so you can handle this issue offline whenever possible.

3. Respond ASAP.

Whether it’s a positive or negative review, response time matters. When it comes to your fans, responding quickly shows that you are paying attention and really care about all of your customers. For negative reviews, the sooner you respond, the sooner you’ll be able to find a solution and turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate for your business (fingers crossed!). A good rule of thumb to follow is to try your best to respond same day, and your reaction all ties back to how others perceive you online.

Bottom line: Responding to all reviews promptly and positively ultimately leads to a strong reputation.

Below, Nice Job provides a great template to follow when responding to negative reviews:

Hello [NAME]

We would like to apologize for your recent experience and sorry to hear you were less than satisfied with [product/service].

We pride ourselves on our [product/service] and the high quality standards we maintain, and would like to make things right.

You can expect a [call/email] from [name] soon to discuss what occurred and how we might make it up to you.

Yours sincerely,
[YOUR FIRST NAME]

Even if you provide the highest quality product or service the world has ever known, there are always going to be haters. A few important things to keep in mind is that a negative review won’t destroy your business. Every mistake is a learning opportunity and customers are a resource to help your business grow. Always strive for those 5 stars, but don’t be afraid of the 1 stars, they don’t bite (too hard). Having a purely 5 star review report card can make it look like you doctored the results, or even worse, paid to rig the system. With any given human endeavor, the flaws are often-times the thing that bridges the trust-gap between business and consumer.

10 Real Estate Lead Statistics You Need To Know

There’s arguably no one as dependent on statistics as real estate agents.

After all, your livelihood depends on numbers like how many homes are sold in a quarter, your commission rate, and the all-important lead stats.

Any change in such variables has the potential to impact your life.

The statistics, especially when it comes to leads, are informational. They serve to help you understand the industry and then go forth and craft a strategy that will boost your bottom line.

So, what does the year ahead look like for your market? Fortunately, most agents in the industry are optimistic about 2018, according to one special report from Inman.

But, it’s not optimism that’s going to keep the market going.

So, to help you clearly define the industry, we present 10 lead stats you should know about and how you can turn them to your advantage.

1. Homebuyers that Find the Homes They Purchase Via an Agent

The number here is 33%. Despite the fact that just over 40% of buyers tend to find their homes online, agents still account for a third of home discovery. So, if you’re not marketing yourself and garnering new leads, you need to be.

2. Millennials Selling their Homes

A staggering 75% of this generation who are selling their home are actually first-time sellers. They’ve likely only owned the one home up to now. Here’s an exceptional opportunity for you to present yourself as the seller’s agent in the area, specializing in Millennials.

3. Homebuyers Who Purchase a Multi-Generational Home

13% of baby boomers whose children have either moved back or who are looking after elderly parents account for the majority of multi-generational property sales. There’s a great opportunity for you to garner leads in a rather niche market. In fact, it’s worth noting that baby boomers make up the largest section of the market at just over 20%.

4. Average Time it Takes to Find an Agent and Buy a Home

The answer here is anything from several weeks to several months. We know that this industry comes with a rather long sales cycle, but you only have a small window in which to get your foot in the door. So, start thinking of ways to leverage your marketing strategy to reach leads when they very first begin looking for a property.

5. Drone Use

Here’s a stat worth knowing: real estate is expected to account for more than 20% of all drone use by 2020 – that’s just two years away. Yet, more than 55% of real estate agents do not yet make use of drones, with around 22% of agents reporting their agents do use drones.

What’s more, more and more buyers are expecting video footage of properties, which can be difficult to capture for higher-end listings like farms, commercial properties and those larger estates on your books.

Yet, drones can effortlessly convey the enormity of a property and offer potential buyers the perfect bird’s eye view, while helping you and your team stand head and shoulders above the competition and help to skyrocket your business.

6. Buyers and Sellers Most Likely to Find You Via a Referral

100% of all buyers and sellers, regardless of their age, are most likely to find you through a referral. Word-of-mouth remains extremely important, as does social and online marketing in this day and age. Don’t miss out on the golden opportunity to potentially triple your leads.

7. Homebuyers That Notice Yard Signs

50% of homebuyers notice yard signs. In fact, while 44% of homebuyers do find their next home online, more than half of buyers search for yard signs as information resources. In any case, the majority of online searches lead to a drive-by anyway. So, make sure you’re putting those yard signs where they can be seen and that they include the relevant contact details.

8. Renting Before Purchasing

Did you know that a rather large 44% of homebuyers actually rented before they bought the home they now live in?

Just because your leads and prospects are renting, doesn’t mean they are not ready to buy a home. That means you can start developing targeted marketing campaigns to send to those renters who are more than ready to be homeowners.

9. Response Rates to Direct Mail Campaigns

In the past year, customer response rates have increased by a whopping 43%.

While many agents continue to clamor for space on Zillow and leverage social media platforms, the savvier of agents are sticking with tried-and-true marketing methods to entice and reel in leads.

10. Photo Listings Really Do Sell

Listings that have high-res photos tend to sell about or just above the list of the price around 44% of the time. What’s more, 64% of the time those properties will sell within just six months.

This means you need an excellent camera and high-quality printing, so your listings can be displayed in brilliant detail.

Make These Statistics Work for You

With these stats, you can go forth and develop a well-targeted, solid campaign that will reel in those leads and convert them to homebuyers or sellers.

Need help nurturing your leads? Get in touch with Agentology today.

The Surprising Cost of Slow Lead Engagement

As a real estate agent, time is certainly money. And, if there was some way to conquer both, you’d probably be a millionaire by now.

If you’re frustrated about the amount of money you’ve (potentially) lost out on, you are not alone. One of the greatest distinctions between teams that have loyal clients and those who battle to retain them seem to be the speed of customer service – or lead engagement.

After all, the need for immediacy spans across all verticals, but in our industry it’s just common sense. In fact, marketers around the world are tasked with various online lead generation goals and are then judged by both the volume and quality of leads they generate.

But, the lead quality deteriorates when we fail to respond in a timely manner.

Why is Slow Lead Engagement a Problem?

In general, leads may receive staggeringly slow responses from your sales agents.

Consider these figures from lead response studies conducted by Harvard Business Review:

  • 42 hours – the average lead engagement time
  • One hour – just 36% of companies respond to leads in an hour
  • 23% – the number of companies that don’t respond to leads

To put it simply, the quality of a lead degrades the longer it takes you to engage with them. A good lead right now can quickly become a bad lead in three days’ time.

What’s more, people consume content differently these days thanks to the internet. With millions of website’s worth of information out there, your leads can spend hours online conducting research before they ever contact you.

According to a Google and CEB white paper, the majority of customers are almost 60% through the sales process before even engaging a sales agent.

If that’s not scary enough, we’ve outlined the impact of slow lead engagement in this post to give you an idea as to why fast response times are so important.

1. A Damaged Reputation

Warren Buffet famously said that it “takes 20 years to build a reputation and just five minutes to ruin it.”

Your real estate business, and indeed your reputation, is extremely valuable. But, it’s also the first thing that takes a hit when you’re slow to engage your potential leads.

Today’s customers are quick to share bad experiences or move on to the next agent that is willing to engage them then and there. Social media is further a hotspot for venting frustrations and spreading negative reviews.

2. Slow Engagement Kills the Conversation

Poor customer service along with slow engagement kills a conversation, and this includes interactions with leads and prospects.

Think about the times you’ve reached out to a business online and never received a response. Frustrating, isn’t it?

Now, just imagine what buyers and sellers are thinking when they request a callback, or are looking for more information about a property, and are forced to wait. Another agent will undoubtedly be right there to comfort them and they’ll quickly forget you even existed.

Fast engagement times and superior customer service leaves a sensational first impression and gets your potential clients excited about doing business with you.

What Can You Do to Increase the Pace?

Providing high-quality and speedy customer service is essential if you want to improve customer experience and turn leads into valuable clients.

But, it all starts with speedy response times.

Here are a few tips to help you speed up lead engagement:

  • Be proactive: In a fast-paced industry, your customer service staff are likely juggling dozens of tasks each day. It can be a few hours before they even see a lead response notification. So, try auto-assigning leads for follow-up and cut down dramatically on lead response times.
  • Set up alerts: Use social media tools to specify which posts ought to be escalated and help your team keep on top of things.
  • Outsource: outsource lead engagement to a reliable third-party who has the skills and technology to respond to and qualify your leads for you, leaving you time to focus on motivated prospects.

Conclusion

The lead engagement landscape as a whole is changing as customer expectations progress. To ensure your real estate business effortlessly scales, be sure to think ahead about each and every aspect of your service, including speedy lead engagement times to reel in your leads and convert them into valuable clients.

Need help engaging and qualifying your leads? Get in touch with Agentology today.

The Two-Pronged Approach to Social Media That Agents Must Use (via BiggerPockets)

The Two-Pronged Approach to Social Media That Agents Must Use (via BiggerPockets)

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Brush your teeth, maybe comb your hair, feed your cat? How about check your phone? According to a 2016 study, more than 60 percent of people check their phones within minutes of hitting the alarm. That number rises to 88 percent within a half hour and 96 percent within the hour.

What does this mean for real estate agents? With more than 2 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 800 million on Instagram, it means social media’s marketing power is undeniable. Traditionally, agents connected with buyers and sellers via sites like Zillow, which averages around 32 million visits a month. Compared to the collective 2.8 billion people interacting monthly on Facebook and Instagram, that’s only a drop in the bucket of the total market.

It isn’t just quantity, but consistency that makes social media valuable. Not only are consumers checking their phones first thing in the morning, but they’re also spending “more than five years of their lives on social media,” logging onto Facebook for an average of 35 minutes a day and Instagram for 15 minutes. Social media gives you the chance to drive potential clients to your site before they start searching randomly online.

By leveraging both platforms to create a comprehensive, two-pronged approach, you can generate more high-quality leads and reach them more effectively…

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No Customer Left Behind: How Positive Experiences Can Transform Your Business (via Realty Times)

No Customer Left Behind: How Positive Experiences Can Transform Your Business (via Realty Times)

Think about how often you purchase something these days without first checking its user rating, reading a buyer’s review, or getting recommendations from friends or family. If you’re like 81 percent of online consumers, the answer is almost never.

But it’s no longer just products or services that today’s consumers investigate before they open their wallets. They’re increasingly interested in the quality of the companies and individuals they do business with as well. And though sales stats, name recognition, or marketing tactics may have motivated consumers in the past, research shows that the vast majority of consumers will consider customer experience as the key brand differentiator by 2020, beating out price and product.

As the world becomes increasingly transparent, your user reviews and “social cred” are more powerful than ever before, which is why it’s critical to prioritize elevating the end-to-end customer experience your organization offers. To give your business — and your customers — a much-needed boost, apply these strategies at every level of customer engagement.

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