Why buyers are valuing Realtors even more than before

As lockdowns end, homebuyers are starting to feel more comfortable venturing out.

That’s according to a national survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors on May 20, which showed that the majority of people – 65% – who attended an open house within the last year would do so now without hesitation.

While nearly three-quarters of respondents reported feeling more comfortable visiting a retail store, their perception of the safety of attending an open house or touring a home for sale has gone up since the NAR’s last survey, conducted on May 6, where 56% of respondents said they had no hesitation about open house safety.

An even larger share of those polled — 82% — said that, given the necessary assurances, they’d feel comfortable doing their home shopping in person again within the next three months.

“The real estate industry — and our country — has endured some very challenging times for several months, but we’re seeing signs of progress and we are earnestly hoping the worst is behind us,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, said in a press release accompanying the findings.

Although the majority of respondents are ready to house hunt in person again, they’re also okay with doing it all online — right down to the closing table. NAR found 53% of respondents said they could envision buying a home without ever actually stepping foot inside.

While 73% of active sellers and another 71% of active buyers said they’re comfortable using technology to conduct real estate business, more than half of both buyers and sellers said it was important to have a real estate agent to help them navigate the virtual homebuying and selling process, including weeding through online listings, providing in-depth information not readily available and walking them through an online closing.

But perhaps the most notable takeaway from the survey is how the pandemic has changed customer attitudes about the value of real estate agents. According to the survey, 62% of sellers and 54% of buyers said that having real estate agent’s guidance is especially valuable during the pandemic.

While buyers and sellers are leaning more heavily on agents for their digital savvy, they also put a premium on traditional communication. More than 70% of buyers and 60% of sellers said talking over the phone with their agent made them feel more comfortable and connected.

“While we celebrate homeownership month, we embrace today’s version of homeownership and the unique paths homeowners take to realize their dream,” Malta added. “For prospective buyers, the desire to own a home remains strong and the guidance, expertise and professionalism Realtors provide is more important now than ever.”

For information on further building your reputation with buyers and sellers, watch AgentEDU’s course on developing your professional real estate image.

Make the Most Out of Social Media for Your Business

Finding potential buyers for your listings is one of the most important aspects of your job — and marketing is essential to your success with this task. With social media’s important role in marketing, most real estate agents maintain at least one social media account for their business. Social media holds a varying level of importance, depending on your target market, but you should ever appear to be technologically challenged. Here’s how to get going and make your social media content the best it can be.

What to use/why to use it

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat are among the most popular, but additional networks, such as TikTok, may emerge and you’ll need to be ready. Keep your company relevant and useful. Here’s an overview of the biggest players at this moment:

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media network in the world. It’s best used to stay in touch with your followers. Create a page dedicated to your business and make sure to add a cover image and your logo. If you have a large personal following, feel free to share your business posts, but don’t make business posts from your personal page. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is aimed at professionals who are either looking for a job or want to network with other professionals. It is also a good place to show your expertise in the field. Use LinkedIn to find employees, and to learn what other real estate professionals are talking about. Its blogging platform allows you to highlight your thought leadership in the field. If you’re managing a brokerage or large team, encourage your agents to write a regular blog. Even a quarterly one will help you build credibility and expertise in the space. 

Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for marketing your business and letting users know about properties and open houses. It is primarily used as a broadcast tool. Posts are limited to 140 characters, so keep your messages brief, but remember to vary them so that your page doesn’t look redundant. 

Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing network that is best for sharing the personality of your company, stylized photos that highlight a great staging effort or property, community activities and even great pictures from the neighborhoods in which your properties are located. 

Pinterest

Pinterest is a site that often details the best way to do something, and essentially works as an online bulletin board. You can build a page that’s oriented toward other agents (and potential recruits) that shows examples of how to do things like stage a property. 

Each platform comes with its own set of analytics, so you can easily see if your posts are effective in driving engagement and, ultimately, sales. Use any analytics that are available to optimize and refine your message.

Tech that can schedule posts

Facebook and Twitter allow you to schedule posts, but if you’re using more than one platform, it’s a good idea to use a dashboard like Hootsuite or Agorapulse that allows you to generate all your posts from a central location. Depending on your subscription level, you can easily replicate posts across platforms and receive more detailed  analytics to help you determine how well your posts are performing.

Creating an editorial calendar

Another way to plan posts is with an editorial calendar. To create an editorial calendar, follow these steps:

  1. Use a spreadsheet program such as Excel or Google Sheets. 
  2. Decide on a time frame; generally one to three months is good, depending on how often you post.
  3. Structure your spreadsheet with dates going vertically and columns going horizontally that allow for each social media property, approvals, whether or not there is an image and a link to that image, actual date posted and any feedback or analysis you get after posting. You may also want to have fields that allow for multiple authors or approvers.
  4. You can fill in certain posts way ahead of time, including ones that are related to dates, or those announce community events you are sponsoring.

There are four general pillars to consider when using social media across all platforms.

  1. Accuracy. It can be tempting to just tap out a post and be done with it. But the internet is not very forgiving. Typos, broken links and other inaccuracies can cost your brand credibility and trust. Double check before you post, and then afterward, view the published item to make sure it’s displaying your content correctly.
  2. Relevancy. Don’t post just to post. Make sure that everything you post has some value to your reader. Social media is a crowded landscape with lots of content competing for eyeballs. The more relevant your content is, the more likely it is to encourage engagement. Remember: Engagement with a post is good, even if it doesn’t lead to a sale. 
  3. Positivity. There is a lot of negativity on the internet. Don’t engage in it. Never bash a competitor or take a side. Stay away from politics and religion. Remember, sometimes the value that a post brings is that it is upbeat. If it’s a beautiful day in a neighborhood where you have a property, post about that. 
  4. Personality. Social media is an opportunity to show your unique self as a brand. An Instagram photo of your agency serving meals to the homeless shows that you’re compassionate; a Facebook post showing your team at a Cubs game shows that you’re fun. These are qualities that a client wants in an agent, and social media is a great way to show them off.

In addition to these four pillars, there are a number of best practices to keep in mind when posting on social media. 

  1. Don’t overpost. You need to find the right balance of the amount of posts on each social network that you can realistically create. It’s better to post infrequently than to post too much because once someone unfollows you, they are unlikely to come back.
  2. Use images when you can. Statistics show that posts with images on social media have significantly more engagement.
  3. Check your analytics. Many social media sites and dashboards have built-in analyses of how well your posts are performing. Take advantage of them whenever possible. You might find that your users engage more in the afternoon, or that they really love posts about neighborhoods. 
  4. Monitor and engage with your users. Watch how people respond to your posts and answer them. By doing so, you will show that your company is caring and responsive and involved with your customers. If someone sends you a direct message or asks a specific question, get back to them as soon as possible with a relevant answer.
  5. Don’t get pulled into a fight. Many people use social media as a platform for complaints. Often, when someone is clearly just looking for a fight, others who see the post will combat the tone without you getting involved. It’s not a good idea to delete posts that criticize your company, but make sure to post rules for engagement on your page and don’t hesitate to delete a post that doesn’t adhere to those rules.

Learn more about social media

To learn more about how to make the most out of your social media marketing, click here to start your seven-day free trial of AgentEDU today and watch our course on determining your target market and developing the right advertising message.