As we begin to gain some distance from the start of the pandemic and its short-term effects, we’re now able to get a better insight into some of the longer-term trends that have popped up in the real estate industry. Most strikingly, it seems, is the change in consumer behavior. 

The real estate industry is one of several industries that have seen drastic shifts in consumer behavior. From how people are searching for homes to what they expect from their real estate agents and brokers, buyer, seller, and agent behavior have all been impacted by the pandemic. And, it’s looking like some trends are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

In order to continue to adapt to changing trends and get the most out of your digital marketing strategy for real estate, it’s essential to understand your consumers and their current priorities. Read on to learn more about some of the most important consumer trends to come out of the COVID-19 era and what to do about them. 

Top Consumer Behavior Trends for Real Estate in 2021

  1. Interest in companies with a defined purpose 
  2. The value of an elevated customer experience 
  3. Relationships are everything 
  4. Rapid response is key
  5. Increased demand for hyperlocal
  6. Trust is essential
  7. Spending has revved up

Interest in companies with a defined purpose 

People have begun taking notice of companies that have a clearly defined purpose. These companies have a true grasp on why they exist and who they’re meant to serve. When your actions are driven by a shared purpose, there’s a clear connection between your identity and your commitment to everyone involved with it — which includes customers, employees, and communities. For example, some real estate companies prioritize dealing with green homes and sustainable buildings. For those seeking a greener lifestyle, they’ll want to work with a company that shares the same values as them. 

The value of an elevated customer experience 

Today, customers are comparing you not only to their previous best real estate customer experiences, but to their best customer experiences in general. Customers expect their agents and brokers to reduce friction in their home buying and selling process. This includes being available via a variety of communication methods, including phone and text, utilizing virtual capabilities, and helping them navigate a challenging market by anticipating what’s next. Furthermore, customers also expect a high level of personalization, to see how your purpose is integrated into everything you do, and that you skillfully leverage your online strategies and tools on their behalf. 

Relationships are everything 

Intertwined with consumers wanting an elevated customer experience is that consumers also want to establish good relationships with the brands they currently work with or with whom they’re considering working. Because people want tailored experiences, diving into your analytics is key to prioritizing your customer’s needs – not only for those who are already your customers, but also for prospects and people who are with you after closing. Keep in mind the value of quantitative and qualitative data, which means both talking to people about their needs and gathering anecdotes, and also analyzing how they’re actually behaving, such as via the email links they actually click, listings they look at, etc. Showing you understand your customers will go a long way to strengthen your relationship with them, and also turn leads into actual clients. Even more so now, because the meaning of home has changed — homes are a place to work, replace or augment prior travel and leisure experiences, and at times, completely disconnect and relax — people want to have a good rapport with someone who truly understands them and will help them achieve their goals. 

Rapid response is key

Equally important, consumers now expect faster response times — 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media. This means developing a highly effective real estate digital marketing strategy and incorporating different elements into your business such as virtual tours, videos, live streamings, online chat, the ability to manage and access customer information via mobile, and contactless closings, to name a few examples. For real estate professionals, this also means constantly evaluating and re-evaluating your customers’ ability to engage and interact with you online. Keep in mind that your audiences engage with you in different ways and have different preferences, even down to the social media platforms they use. Because each audience is different, just like every real estate company is different, your experience with them should be tailored accordingly. 

Increase demand for hyperlocal

As more people are utilizing online tools to research their potential home, community, and agent, they’re also seeking an immersive experience into what it’s truly like to live there and work with a specific company. Buyers –  and sometimes sellers –  want insight into what features and attractions the neighborhood and surrounding areas offer like places to eat, entertainment, attractions, factors influencing home values, and more. Developing hyperlocal content can position you as an expert in your area and gain the trust of prospective and current clients (more on trust below). Keep in mind that hyperlocal may truly mean having a neighborhood, community, development, or even street-level focus, especially depending on the area you serve. It’s also essential for your potential customers, and search engines, to see you as an expert in a few hyperlocal areas first before extending your authority elsewhere, as that will save you time and money down the road. 

Trust is essential

The pandemic put a spotlight on the relationship between companies and trust with their consumers. Now, your reputation is partially defined by what you promise (helping someone find their dream home or sell their home fast, as two examples) and what actually happens (their experience working with you and whether their goal is achieved). When the gap between promises made and what’s delivered widens, you lose their trust, which is especially important in such a highly emotional transaction and given the internet’s broad reach. If you treat customers right, they’ll tell others.  

Spending has revved up 

Because of the large market imbalance that’s come to a point during the pandemic, fueled by supply chain disruptions and a shortage of inventory, people are spending more on homes. Buyers are paying more for lower-priced homes to ensure they secure a house and avoid a bidding war. Also, with the largest home-buying group in the market –  Millennials –  competition has ramped up. The requirements for what people want in a home have also changed, as have sellers’ requirements for listing. Many buyers are willing to spend more to find all the amenities they want in one place, like communal gardens, laundry services, and even co-working spaces in many cases. Furthermore, investments in vacation homes have also grown because of the pandemic. Vacation homes serve as a means of safe travel for people wanting to go somewhere, while also offering more space and privacy from others. 

While we’re still observing all of the trends that arise due to the pandemic, what we know so far is that our world will be forever impacted. In order to stay on top of the latest trends and stay ahead, having a deep understanding of your consumer and the right balance of digital strategies is key. Also helpful is knowing what to prioritize and relentlessly pursuing it.

Need help crafting a digital marketing strategy for real estate that makes the most of these trends? Connect with us today to get specific recommendations to grow your business.