The times are changing for mortgage and real estate pros. In one camp, there is an increasingly loud group proposing the future is in digital consumer direct and major disruption is eminent. The purists argue this is a relationship-based business fraught with regulation that will always be dependent on a referral and a handshake.
Telling you the sky is falling is a great way to sell books, but the reality is that mortgage and real estate will not be disrupted in the traditional sense. Those who don’t adapt will slowly be forced into new careers. My operations leader once told me, “We aren’t making any major mistakes, but if we don’t create a technology solution to track what is going on, we will die a death of a thousand paper cuts.” Every missed digital opportunity is another paper cut.
The winners will emerge not from the edges but from the center. Fully digitized relationship-based real estate pros will adapt to what is next. Just in case you are still living on denial island, I have expanded on four surprising digital trends.
1) Home buyers are on the internet.
The Facts: 94% of home buyers in 2015 used internet search engines and 44% bought the home they found on the internet*. Although no longer reporting, at last count, Zillow/Trulia generated nearly 140 million unique visits per month.
So What? If you don’t have a formidable digital footprint, your clients are at risk of being converted by digitized Real Estate pros.
Stop Getting Paper Cuts. Set up your social media and portal profiles. Make sure you have consistency in both message and image.
2) Mobile is everything and video is king.
The Facts: Mobile data usage is up 84% in the last two years**; 66% of buyers that used mobile search found the home they bought on a mobile app*. Video in email increases click-through by 200-300%, and 90% of mobile users say that seeing video helps them make a buying decision.
So What? People are using their phones to learn, engage, shop and buy. If you can’t communicate with them effectively on that device, you lose.
Stop Getting Paper Cuts. Your lead funnel has to include SMS and mobile communication. Sending big bloated HTML e-mails that choke the fastest 4G network is putting you on the fast track to losing business. Also, it is time to use video for everything. (Smile!)
3) Clients know more about you than your mother… before you even talk.
So What? If you don’t have a coherent digital footprint that builds trust prior to having a conversation, you lose. The days of earning business face to face are not behind us, but they are in jeopardy. You must build credibility and trust while you sleep.
Stop Getting Paper Cuts. You need to get reviews from 50% of your closed loans, and they should be on multiple platforms. Also, you should have a very professional, credible social footprint, especially via Facebook and LinkedIn.
4) The millennial buyer market is massive — the first native mobile generation.
The Facts: In 2015, 25-34 yr olds represented 32% of total purchases and 68% of all first-time homebuyers*. The largest age group in the US in 2014 were 22-24 yr olds. They will become first-time home buyers in 5 yrs and move-up buyers in 10. Household formation doubled in 2015 from 2014 and was driven by millennials. Have you ever seen a millennial without a phone in their hand?
So What? When was the last time you won a sale with a 23 yr old? They are going to be the majority of the market in 5 years. If you struggle to operate DropBox or have never used Google Apps, you are in trouble.
Stop Getting Paper Cuts. Become digitally proficient. Download and try the most popular apps, share documents out of a cloud storage solution and make sure you have all of the portal apps downloaded on your phone and use them.
Your referral relationships aren’t going to dry up in the next 6 months, but there will be an increasing number of digital savvy competitors that earn business—your business. The time to adapt is now.
More Reading from our Blog:
*NAR 2015 Home Buyers Survey, **comScore 2015 Mobile App Report
Revised: December 21, 2016