Facts and figures are important, but they’re nothing without context. Yet homebuyers sometimes forget that after a deep dive into real estate listings, assuming they’re equipped to handle major transactions on their own. Not so fast, says Heather Hyllested, an Atlanta-based agent with Owners.com. “An agent will be able to decipher and explain the information you’ve gathered,” says Hyllested. By teaming up with an agent after doing preliminary research — rather than DIY-ing their house hunt — buyers will be able to get a more complete picture of a home’s potential or a neighborhood’s fit.
In other words, agents still rule. And agents who know how to leverage technology — using their expertise to analyze neighborhood data and making it easy to access new listings and schedule tours — are guaranteed to stand out from the competition. Here’s how to show potential customers you’re ahead of the curve:
Streamline, streamline, streamline
According to a recent Owners.com survey, nearly nine in 10 Atlanta-based homebuyers used an agent — but when asked how their agent could save them time, 67 percent said they would have appreciated gaining “streamlined access” to additional listings, and 64 percent wanted easy access to data such as home appreciation and Walk Scores.
Luckily, there are multiple apps for that. CityMaps2Go’s offline maps are customizable, allowing users to drop pins and call out local highlights — perfect for an agent who wants to showcase a neighborhood’s best restaurants, or parks, or grocery stores (Free, itunes.com). Use RoomScan Pro to give clients instant room measurements and floor plans, simply by tapping your iPhone against a wall (Free, itunes.com), and DocuSign if you’re looking for a convenient (and secure) way to collect signatures remotely (Free, itunes.com).
The Owners.com Agent app, available exclusively to Owners.com agents, “is awesome for juggling multiple clients,” says Lytice Brown, a real estate agent with Owners.com. “Everything can be kept in one place: notes, tasks, client information.” The consumer-facing Owners.com app (Free, itunes.com) has been a huge selling point, too, Hyllested says: “My clients love that they’re able to connect with me instantaneously, which makes the entire homebuying process less stressful.”
Know who you’re dealing with
Sorry, millennials: The same Owners.com survey found that Gen Xers are actually the most self-directed, tech-reliant home buyers. More than 62 percent of them reported doing their own research online before initiating contact with an agent (compared to 59 percent of baby boomers and 48 percent of millennials), and only 29 percent said they trusted their agents to do the heavy lifting.
“Generation X has been through the worst of the real estate market,” says Hyllested. “That has affected them and their approach to homebuying, making them proceed more cautiously.”
Tech-savvy millennials lack the confidence of more experienced homebuyers, and thus, lean on their agents more heavily than older homebuyers. “They tend to overanalyze during their online searches,” Hyllested notes. “But they also may have stayed with their parents the longest. Having this financial safety net coupled with computer and app knowledge shines when they work with an agent.”
Emphasize what you bring to the table
There’s a lot of room for interpretation — and error — when a potential homebuyer absorbs information online without the context a professional can provide. Both Hyllested and Brown agree that clients should begin their home searches online. But it’s one thing to look up property listings or school ratings, and quite another to take a deep dive into a particular market. Agents should be candid with their clients about what aspects of the real estate process they can own, and what they should leave to the experts (e.g., determining current market values, or how certain features of a property might affect them down the road). And they should definitely emphasize that they’re the ones who need to close the deal — not the buyer. “The seller’s agent is working for the seller, and the buyer’s agent is working for the buyer,” Brown says. “It could cause a lot of problems if the buyer and seller start speaking to one another, or if a buyer starts speaking to the seller’s agent.”
Armed with school rankings, sale history and square footage, today’s homebuyer is more knowledgeable than ever. But they can’t, and shouldn’t go it alone. Agents are still the key to getting ahead, especially in competitive markets.
Owners.com is a technology-driven brokerage at the forefront of the real estate revolution. With local real estate expertise, financing and closing services and unique digital experiences, Owners.com and its affiliates offer a complete real estate solution that aims to anticipate and fulfill the dreams of consumers. For more information or to contact a local Owners.com real estate agent, visit Owners.com or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn.