Thursday, 25 August 2016

How to improve Sales using Generational Wants and Needs

There are many differences in the wants and needs of each generation during the home purchase process. By understanding these preferences you can focus on the right features during walk throughs and open houses based on a person’s age, as well as in the preparation of your real estate marketing materials.

The Study

An energy efficient home rates very highly for Baby Boomers. 
According to a national study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, they found that there were some interesting differences, particularly between Baby Boomers and the rest of the age groups. The study, “Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to OtherHome Buyers”, dug deep, covering all aspects of a home from size to specific rooms and features. There was a list of 150 features covered and those involved in the study rated the features they wanted and those they did not want. Findings were based on 4,326 responses from home buyers in general and also based on the following generations:
  • Millennials (born 1980 or later)
  • Gen X’ers (born 1965-1979)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
  • Seniors (born 1945 or earlier)

Wants by Generation

It is all about age, and looking at the differences between the younger generations versus the older, it is clear wants change as people age. Here are some breakdowns of the most wanted home preferences by generation:
Millennials want more outdoor space.
  • Millennials: Millennials are the only generation to include a deck, a patio, and a front porch on their top 10 most wanted features. They are also the only group that want both a shower stall and tub in their master bathroom. Having a formal space for a dining room tied in 10th place with Energy Star® rated appliances, exterior lighting was second and a living room took third. The number one position for the most wanted for Millennials was a laundry room. They also listed ceiling fans and main floor hardwood to round off the list.
  • Gen X: Gen Xer’s shared Millennials number one desire for a laundry room. However, clearly Energy Star® features were far more important to them with Energy Star® rated appliances, whole home and windows all appearing at the top of the list with a space in second for exterior lighting. Another commonality with Millennials was a desire for hardwood on the main floor, ceiling fans and a living room. They came in second for wanting the most outdoor space, looking for both a patio and a front porch. Gen Xer’s were the only generation that did not show any preference for bathrooms on their most wanted lists.
  • Baby Boomers: A laundry room did not even make it to the list when it comes to Boomers. Instead their top three spaces were taken up by Energy Star® rated appliances, whole home and windows. They also added insulation higher than code stressing their desire to save on energy bills. As well, outdoor living dropped in favor with only one outdoor feature listed, a patio in 9th place. They shared a desire for a full bath on the main floor with seniors and rounding off their list was a laundry room, exterior lighting and hardwood on the main floor in 10th.
  • Seniors: For seniors, it was outdoor space that did not rank on their most wanted list. They
    Seniors want table space in the kitchen for eating.
    were also the only generation that did not mention hardwood flooring. They included kitchen features not mentioned by any of the other generations that included a double sink, as well as table space for eating. However they did share one thing in common with Millennials and Gen X which was a laundry room as their number one want. Coming in close second and third were Energy Star® rated appliances and whole home, with Energy Star® rated windows and insulation above required code further down the list in 9th and 10th place respectively. Their bathroom preference was main floor full bath and they also listed exterior lighting and ceiling fans to round off their list.  

Most Unwanted Features

There were many things that all generations added to their most unwanted lists albeit in varying priority:
  • Home elevator
  • Cork floors
  • Living in a golf course community
  • Wine cellar
  • Pet washing station

Millennials and Baby Boomers included laminate kitchen countertops, yet interestingly neither listed granite nor other higher quality counter tops on their top 10 most wanted lists. As well they both listed not wanting only a shower stall in the master bath.

Millennials were the only group that listed His and Her baths as an unwanted feature and Seniors were the only ones that listed baseball/soccer fields and a game room as unwanted. They were also the only group that did not list living in a high density community and dual toilets in master bath.
Last but not least, all but the Millennials listed Daycare Centre on their lists, with seniors rating it as their number one most unwanted. Elevator took first for the other three generations.

By understanding these wanted and unwanted features you can direct potential buyers to the features they most want and be prepared with some good answers and solutions when they object to features they don’t. As well you can use the commonalities to draw attention to high priority wants and downplay the most common undesirable features throughout your real estate marketing campaigns.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

How to Effectively Plan Your Fall Marketing Strategy Now

As summer begins to wind down it is time to set your sights on planning a fall marketing strategy. Your fall marketing plans will help to keep you top of mind with clients with whom you are engaged as well as past clients who might be planning to sell in the spring. You want to get started right now, just as kids are ready to get back to school. An excellent tool to keep in touch is a series of home owner and real estate newsletters you can send out based on the time of year, or the needs of your clients.

Plan a Marketing Calendar

The beauty of marketing in the fall is that there are many reasons to reach out to clients based on special dates and milestones on the calendar. Here is an example of information you can share that can prove useful to home owners:
  • August: Take a look at the first day of school in your area and send out a back to school newsletter filled with tips about shopping. You can then send a second newsletter about keeping kids healthy as the school year gets into full gear.
  • September: Send out fall home décor tips, gardening tips, home comfort tips, etc. weekly, bi-weekly or even just for the month.
  • October: Keep an eye out for special events in your area and let people know when they are coming up. Fall fairs are a perfect example of info you can share. And of course don't forget about sending out some fun Halloween tips.
  • November: Start to send out some great Thanksgiving tips the weeks leading up to the big day.
  • December: Start your Holiday tips in early December and send a new and fun newsletters each week to help keep people focused on the tasks they should be working on to get ready for the holidays including entertaining, home décor, tree trimming and more.
  • January: Ring in the New Year and don’t forget to share information about things such as sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions.
  • February: Send out Valentine greetings with gift ideas or fun projects to share with the kids.
  • March: Don’t forget about St. Patty’s Day and now is a good time to start getting people into thinking about home sales or house hunting.

The next thing you know, listing season has rolled back around again.

Consider your Clients

You can also look at your contact list and consider sorting your clients into different categories. For example for those you have worked with in the past, the above list of newsletters are perfect. It gives you an excuse to reach out to them without being too pushy and to help generate interest as well as potential referrals. However, for those you recently helped find a home, or sell a home, it might be better to send out information about home ownership, tips for maintenance, home décor or DIY projects, etc. mixed in with some fun ideas for the holidays. Last but not least, for those you were in the throngs of discussing a new listing, don’t let them lose contact as the fall makes them think of waiting until next year to sell. Keep them updated on local housing prices, if you have any interested people looking for a home such as theirs when listings are harder to come by and also tips on preparing to sell so they are ready come the spring.

Think Helpful, Not Salesy

The key to remaining in contact with clients is to come across as helpful, not salesy. The information you want to share should be useful and entertaining, not just an email you send reminding them you want to sell their home. 

This type of communication is providing “news they can use” as opposed to straight selling strategies. You want to become a resource about the area, as well as someone who understands what is important to homeowners. 

Providing specific information to an individual’s unique situation will prove even more helpful as it shows you are in tune with their needs. For example, if you know a client is looking for a retirement home for elderly parents, or are thinking of renovating their home to help accommodate them, you could share a newsletter that covers this specific topic. If you worked with a couple with interest in eco-friendly living, you could send them some green decorating tips or home comfort tips to save energy. It might even be a couple you helped find a fixer upper and you can send them some DIY tips to help them get their house feeling more like a home.

Don't rule out planning a drip campaign using newsletters as an easy way to keep in touch. Drip marketing sends continuous communication to clients so you remain in front of them and also can become a resource they depend on.

Having a plan in place now will help you keep on top of your marketing and stay in touch with clients throughout the fall and winter. You can plan your contact with selling in the spring in mind so that you have some new referrals and clients ready to list with you when listing season arrives.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Six of the Most Interesting Home Buyer Insights for 2016

The Bank of America (BOA) released their Home Buyer Insights for 2016 with some interesting stats every real estate agent should know. From the words of the wise, experienced homeowner, to the hopes and dreams of the struggling millennial, here are six of the most interesting findings.

1. Overall Factors

For today’s home buyers there are four overall factors that are extremely important to them:
  1. Cost 82%
  2. Neighborhood 71%
  3. Floor Plan 60%
  4. Square Footage 47%

As well, the most desirable home was clearly in the suburbs with 52% looking for the perfect suburban home versus 26% urban and 22% rural. 75% are looking for single-family homes.

2. Skipping the Starter Home
75% of first time buyers want a home to grow into vs a starter home.

Today’s first time home buyers are skipping the starter home. Instead they are focusing on a home they can grow into and avoid having to buy and sell their first home. According to BOA’s report, 75% of those surveyed said they are looking for a home they can grow into versus the 25% who wanted a home that suits their current needs even if it means selling their home down the road. As well, 69% said they would rather save more now to buy a nicer home in the future compared to 31% who said they would rather just buy a starter home now.

3. Affordability and Debt

There has been much talk about the fact that millennials are holding off purchasing a home due to student debt. However, the BOA study found that although 32% of millennials have put off buying a home due to debt, 43% of Gen Xers have waited. Student debt has caused issues for millennials, however for Gen X they are faced with other issues including saving for retirement, saving for their children’s education and credit card debt. Overall, 34% of those surveyed said debt was holding them back from purchasing a home. When it comes to affordability, more than half of those surveyed (56%) said they did not feel they could afford to buy a home at this time.

4. Sacrifice for the Right Home

Of those who purchased a home in the past, 76% said they made sacrifices in order to buy the home they wanted. The most common thing current homeowners gave up was travel at 46%, very close to the 44% of first time buyers who said they would sacrifice travel in order to buy the right home. Surprisingly 51% of those who are considering buying a home now are willing to sacrifice a new car compared to those who have already purchased a home at 37%. Not surprisingly, only 17% were willing to sacrifice their desired location.

5. Emotion versus Finance

First time home buyers are still more motivated by emotion than they are by finance. 76% were looking for a home based on emotions compared to 63% who were considering financial factors. 57% of today’s homeowners associate home ownership with happiness and 52% cite wanting a place to call their own the reason they want to buy a home. 52% of experienced homeowners said that they wished they had known about the pride associated with home ownership, 46% about the sense of accomplishment and 46% about the joy owning a home would bring them. Only 26% said they wanted to buy a home because of saving enough money and 21% were ready as the felt they had a steady enough job.

6. Financing and Saving for a Home

Last but not least, today’s home buyer understands the importance of savings with 59% planning to set aside savings for down payments on their homes. 85% said they would appreciate a tool that would take money from their pay checks for automatic savings. 52% of experienced home buyers said they would tell their younger selves to start saving earlier. 92% said that not only saving for a home, but also paying off a home is important to them. Of the 66% of millennials expecting support from their parents, financially or otherwise 70% felt an obligation to involve their parents in the home buying process. Parental input ranged from how much to spend (44%) to where to buy (38%) as well as having a final say in the home they should purchase (28%).

Despite the challenges, many people feel home ownership is still their ultimate dream, even if they have to save more and wait a little longer to make it a reality.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

How to overcome the Most Threatening Consumer Trends in 2016

As a real estate agent there is a combination of consumer trends that can be threatening your ability to be a useful player in the home purchasing process. Knowing what today’s consumer is thinking is the best way to overcome those threats.

The Online Search

It is no secret that today’s consumer is relying more and more on technology during the house hunting process. As an agent it is important to know that buyers, including seniors, are using more than one site to research the homes available in their preferred area. 

A recent review by Consumer Reports showed that the major sites buyers are using are still not as dependable or well represented when it comes to providing a complete picture of the homes currently on the market. The report reviewed major sites including Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia and found that each site had a few shortcomings that made it necessary to search more than one site.

As an agent you have to make sure you are covering all of your bases and posting your listings on all of the major real estate search engines so that your listings can be found. You also want to use SEO on your own site, and in the description of your property for virtual tours to help people searching for houses in your area find you.

Technology and FSBO

There has always been the threat of FSBO taking business away from you. However, with technology providing an easy way for homeowners to research the home selling process, it makes it seem even easier for them to complete the selling process without an agent. Make sure your own website is packed with helpful information to attract sellers researching the selling process. This can actually work in your favor in two ways: 
  1. It helps them to find your website and 
  2. It demonstrates that the complicated selling process really does need an agent to sell their home faster and for a better price.

Technology versus the Personal Touch

In January of this year the online real estate site announced it was changing its name to Ten-X and updating its business profile to include the sale of “traditional, move-in ready residential properties”.  The site allows buyers and sellers in Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and Miami to interact online and purchase and sell homes in an easy to use process. Buyers can shop, place an offer, negotiate, sign contracts and complete the transactions online. 

Keep in mind, they have their sights set on becoming a national service. As an agent it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with Ten-X and learn how it works. You want to be prepared to answer questions about Ten-X in case your more savvy clients bring it up!

The Extinction of the Starter Home

More and more first time buyers are deciding to forego the age old tradition of viewing their first home as a “starter home”. Instead they are looking at their first home as their only home for the long term. Because buyers such as millennials have this plan in mind, it is also impacting their buying schedules as they have to save more to make a major home purchase that will accommodate their growing needs.

According to Bank of America’s 2016 Homebuyer Insights Reports, 75 percent of first-time buyers said they would prefer to purchase their first home with the intent to “age in place”. As well, more and more homeowners are opting to renovate and expand their current home instead of selling and upgrading.

There are a number of ways you can work with this knowledge. First, make sure when selling a smaller home you understand what additions and renovations can be made to make it more suitable to those who are purchasing their first home and might need to accommodate a growing family. Get a feel for the price of the home and the cost of having those renovations done prior to them moving in so they can consider the benefits of having an older home customized to suit their needs. They will want to know this is an affordable option as well.

Many new home buyers are nervous about renovations, especially millennials, so make sure they understand the changes can be done before they move so the home will be “move in ready” for them.
As well, millennials who are more budget conscious might just need a bit of convincing to see the financial benefits of owning a smaller home. They are easier to maintain, have fewer rooms to furnish, have lower energy bills and are also more eco-friendly. In fact, according to Bank of America’s 2016 Homebuyer Insights Report 35% of home buyers would tell their younger less experienced selves to factor in the maintenance costs of home ownership and to stick to a budget before purchasing their home. That again leans in the favor of purchasing a smaller home.

Keeping up to date on consumer trends as well as the advances made in real estate technology will allow you to remain knowledgeable and ready to take on new challenges with ease.  

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

5 important facts you need to know about response time

Lead response management is one of the most important elements of lead generation. If you are not able to find the perfect discipline to respond to inquiries generated from your marketing efforts, potential clients will not feel they are receiving information in a timely manner. This means you could lose someone that was ready to hire you. Your lead response management strategy must be set to allow you to continually respond to all enquiries in a timely fashion so you optimize your efforts and never miss out on a lead. Here are five facts you need to know about the importance of prompt response times.

1. Lead Generation versus Complaint Generation

If you started your social media pages as part of your lead generation strategy, you have to be prepared to respond to any comments your posts might generate. According to a survey by Convince and Convert, 42% of customers who post a complaint to a social media page expect an answer within 30 minutes of their post. Hopefully you are not getting complaints but instead comments that can start a conversation. However, the numbers do speak to expectations and how customers view using social media as a point of contact with you. And remember, even a lead generation email form on a website can receive complaints and these emails should also be answered promptly. 

2. Response Rates for Real Estate

According to Sprout Social, in the final quarter of 2015, the statistics related to social media response times and real estate were as follows:
  • Average Response Rate: 11.2%
  • Average Hours to Respond: 11
  • Average Percent of Comments requiring a response: 52.8%
  • Average Post per Reply: 8.7

In general, the number of comments posted by customers that require a response has risen dramatically from 2013 to the final quarter of 2015 from 14% to over 43%. That means that more consumers are looking at social media as a logical place to make inquiries and complaints about a brand.

3. Day of the Week

Although prompt response time is always important, you might be interested to know that the day of the week you choose to make a call based on a lead can affect your success rate. According to, those who make a call to contact a lead on Thursday see a 49.7% improvement in reaction to those who called on Tuesday, the worst day of the week. Wednesdays are a close second for success. Interestingly, our research has shown that the best day to send an eflyer campaign is also Thursdays with Wednesdays as a close second.

Chart courtesy of

4. Time of Day

The time of day seemed to have a big impact on success for contacting a lead as well. Calling between 4pm to 6pm had a 114% better result than calling at the worst time of day (during business hours) 11am to 12pm.

Chart courtesy of

5. Response Time

Of course the time it takes to get back to someone is really the make or break factor you need to consider the most. Here are the numbers according to
  • Your odds decrease by over 10 times when waiting an hour to call a lead versus calling within the first five minutes.
  • The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.
  • The odds of qualifying a lead from 5 minutes to 10 minutes decrease 4 times.

Chart courtesy of

It is not surprising that every message you leave after 20 hours actually hurts your ability to make contact. By this time chances are the lead has reached out to someone else who can handle their needs right away and the more messages you leave, the more desperate you might appear.

Of course everything is relative and there are often extenuating circumstances that will affect your ability to respond promptly, from the time of day the lead reaches out to you, to the frequency with which you check emails. Realistically, you will have a number of marketing campaigns and other lead generation tools at work for you. From virtual tours and social media to eflyers, you have to ensure you are ready to respond as quickly as possible.

When it comes to real estate, your response time could be the basis your lead is using as a deciding factor on whether or not you can handle their needs. Throw into the mix the fact that most people will hire the first agent they contact, the more responsive you are and the better your response time, the more likely you are to have them stick with you as their real estate agent.