As technology evolves, so does the home buying process. Hopeful buyers are levering the ease of the internet, mobile apps and online videos to thoroughly study prospective properties. Due to continued advancements in technology, buyers are coming into the home buying market with more knowledge than ever before, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Real Estate in a Digital Age 2018 Report released last month.
Buyers of All Ages Leverage Technology to Initiate Property Research
In 2018, 44% of all prospective home buyers initiated their home search by looking for properties online and an additional 11% researched the home buying process online before contacting a real estate professional or loan officer.
The ability to find, tour and compare properties is enhanced and optimized online. Consumers in all age demographics showed an increased use of technology in their home searches in 2018, but the content format and frequency of use varied by demographic.
Websites Are the Leading Real Estate Research Tools Among Buyers
Overall, real estate and property listing websites are the most commonly used platforms by potential buyers performing online property searches. Nearly every house hunter referred to these types of sites in 2018 at some point during their home buying journeys.
Millennials led all other generations for the most real estate website use among potential home buyers. According to the report from NAR, 99% of house buying Millennials visited real estate websites during their home searches compared to 90% of Old Boomers (born 1946-1954) and 70% of the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945).
Additional information sources used during the home buying process included:
- Real estate agents (used by 86% of buyers)
- Mobile/tablet websites or apps (73%)
- Open houses (53%)
- Yard signs (46%)
- Online video sites (37%)
Surprisingly, Boomers were the most frequent users of video sites, a platform often associated with younger audiences. Potential buyers of all ages are scrolling through property websites and virtually touring homes without ever getting off their couches. This normalization of substantial research and market consumption opens up more digital marketing possibilities for loan originators to market their products and services.
How Should Loan Originators Market to Borrowers?
With the average buyer using mobile devices and spending ten weeks to find their homes, there’s plenty of potential for digital marketing of mortgage options.
Loan originators can curate content that positions their brands as solutions to buyer questions, providing knowledge on topics like pre-approval versus pre-qualification, ways to save for a down-payment, the fundamental differences between loan types or top financial questions to ask when buying a home.
Review your current website and evaluate which areas of content are useful for buyers. Diversify content, so it’s relevant to the needs and questions of all home buying generations. Blogs can effectively position content tailored for specific age demographics without making a website excessively dense and wordy. Consider adding short informative videos to your website and promote this video content on your social pages. Don’t worry too much about production quality; creating an insightful video can be as simple as using your cell phone in your own office.
Loan originators should expand both their organic and paid search strategies to reach more buyers while they are in the information-seeking phase of home shopping. Design simple landing pages with clear calls to action (CTAs) that encourage borrowers to submit their email addresses to receive more information. Don't disregard SEO on your landing pages. Instead consider the user experience and add relevant messaging to these pages in addition to powerful CTAs. Use content-driven landing pages to highlight keywords relating to specific home search inquiries, and reinforce messages similar to what is on your main website regarding your services and unique expertise. Content for paid search campaigns should be educational and resourceful, as this is a time when buyers are seeking information.