The Day-After-Tomorrow’s Consumers
We began by examining how our young consumers currently make purchase decisions. Almost all advisory board members would start out online, relying on reviews and web search when considering a big purchase. Some members pointed out that too much information can be overwhelming and frustrating, which is when they turned to the people they trust including their family, friends and product experts for advice and recommendations.
A key insight was that online information alone did not drive the ultimate decision. Face-to-face interaction is critically important. In the real estate industry we already know this: no technology can fully replace that human connection and trust that can only be earned, not programmed – we are glad that this mindset lives on.
From small purchases to major investments, we moved on to discussing how the next generation of house hunters might begin their journey. Since the advisory board’s only experience with home buying was through their parents, Jennifer Marchetti, BHGRE®’s Chief Marketing Officer, built a compelling analogy between buying a home and choosing a college. Both are major decisions that require huge planning and investment. Board members all confirmed that while huge amounts of information is collected online to narrow down the options, the ultimate decision is made by a gut feeling once on campus and through the trusted recommendations of people close to them.
Though not directly affected by the economic downturn of the last decade, our young advisory board members – perhaps learning from the mistakes of the previous generations – displayed a keen acumen when it comes to preparing themselves for future homeownership. They understood the importance of savings as early as possible and maintaining good credit before making big financial commitment such as taking out a mortgage.
Another critical insight was the recognition of the role and benefits of the agent as a trusted resource not only to help them find their dream home, but also to navigate through the transactional elements of the home buying process. To earn the trust of these future homeowners, however, we as real estate professionals will have to work hard for it. These digital natives expect agents to provide information that is not available via a simple Google search. They will not hesitate to call out when agents are not being truthful.
Online Listing Exercise
We asked our Gen Z Advisory Board to review a selection of online listings from across the industry and tell us how they would make them better. Visual appeal and cross-device support appeared to be on top of many teens’ minds when browsing listings. An overwhelming majority agreed that high-quality photos were a must-have feature and expressed their disappointment when listings only had a few photos or when the photos were of poor quality. They suggested that more listings should highlight technology features such as built-in AV system or Internet speeds in different area of the house. Information on social surroundings and the neighborhood was also desired. To improve the home search process even more, our future house hunters would like to see better features that allow users to compare elements of a home for the sake of prioritizing listings. The consistent theme presented was also that all of this must be mobile-friendly.
Echoing their opinion on online research and information transparency, many expressed concern when listings did not include a picture of the agent. They went further to express a desire to see more information about the agent including their achievements and qualifications.
Find out what members of our Gen Z Advisory Board think of a career in real estate on the next page!