With technology headed to the forefront of the new real estate market and the typical buyer using the internet to search for homes, the internet is a prevalent factor in the homebuying process today. But what else is driving today’s homebuyers? I believe it is everything they have learned from watching real estate reality-based content on TV and now, even more so, on social media.
Many homebuyers will search on social media for homes that match their specific preferences. Hashtags can help them find all the little niches that they are interested in—for example, #farmhomes, #artistslofts, #livingroomideas, #brooklynrealesate. As HGTV so successfully made fixer-uppers look easy, social media has expanded on that notion as well, making real estate investing the “cool” thing to do.
Millennials have represented the largest generation of homebuyers in recent years. Combine that with a report by Transunion that showed the number of Gen Z buyers doubled from 2018 to 2019, with more than 300,000 Gen Zers taking out a mortgage by 2019. With these numbers in mind, let’s look at how social media usage mirrors that demographic.
According to survey findings by Pew Research Center, 79% of the 18-to-29-year-old demographic use Facebook, and 67% use Instagram. Of 30-to-49-year-olds, 82% use at least one social media platform, Facebook and Instagram being the prevailing favorites.
I believe these two generations will represent the majority of homebuyers for the foreseeable future, and how they consume information centers around social media — or, social is at least a part of their daily lives. For the first time, digital advertising will make up more than half of the total ad spend at $336 billion in 2020 as we continue to trend away from traditional media such as television, magazines and billboards. So how does this change the overall real estate landscape?
Let’s start with homebuyers. I believe that as a homebuyer, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not researching neighborhoods and the real estate agents who will be helping you on social media. For your home, you should be able to search around social to see neighborhood activities, nightlife and what trends for home styles are prevalent in that area. For your agent, never has it been easier to check out exactly what that person is about. Many real estate agents are very active on social media with not only their real estate activity, but also their personal and professional views. If you really want to find out who that professional is, this may be the best way to do it. It’s almost a free, transparent, online resume.
For real estate and home professionals, social media may be the best way to brand, advertise and separate yourself from the competition. I believe this is where we have to become our own personal ad agencies. Agents can’t just show pictures of homes. As the market gets more and more competitive, your knowledge and how you present it on social media will set you apart from the next agent. Buyers and sellers want to know that you know everything about what you are selling — the neighborhood and home values and, most importantly, that as a real estate agent, you are helping them make the best investment. More importantly, social media has enabled individuals to become their own businesses and brands without the need for big companies or budgets behind them. It’s not about the company brand anymore; on social, I believe it’s the individual who is now in the driver’s seat.
Just as for the last decade we have seen more and more homebuying, fixing and selling programming hit our TVs, for the next 10 years, social media content will dominate our real estate reality. As individuals involved in real estate, I believe we will have to know and master it and continue to improve ourselves as new social platforms are introduced to really succeed in the next real estate revolution.