Millennials and Content Marketing Dominate Zillow’s Latest Report

Last week, Zillow Group released its first-ever report on the real estate consumer. The Consumer Housing Trends Report for 2016 contained a lot of information I found both interesting and surprising. And to be honest, it was really validating to me because it proves what I’ve been squawking about for years now: that Millennials are important and that today’s real estate agents and loan officers need to be sharing valuable information via content marketing.

Instead of simply sharing the information with you, I read, re-read, and analyzed the data in the report. Here are the four most important trends Zillow Group’s Consumer Housing Trends Report 2016 reveals about Millennials and content marketing that you need to know as a real estate agent or loan officer.

Trend #1: The time for Millennials is now.

Millennials have been a hot topic over the past five years or so. We keep talking about the “next generation” of buyers and sellers. Well, my friends, that next generation is here in full force.

Depending on your source, the start of the Millennial generation is almost always between 1980–1982 and runs through 1995–2004, with most between 1994-1998. This means that the oldest Millennial is now 34–36 and the youngest one is likely 18–22. The Zillow Group report defines a Millennial as someone who is between 18–34.

The first big thing to think about is that all Millennials are now legally able to buy.

This entire generation—a generation that has surpassed the Baby Boomers in size—has now entered their home buying adolescence.

Let that sink in for a second.

ZG’s data tends to agree with this. Half of all home buyers surveyed in the U.S. are under 36. Yes, half. Not only that, but 47% of these home buyers are buying a home for the first time.

So for all of you who have been thinking in the back of your head that you need to get your business ready for the young buyer and all that younger buyers want (think technology, social media, and content marketing), you are officially late to the party.

Most Important Stats

  • Half of all home buyers in the U.S. are under 36.
  • 47% of all home buyers are first-time buyers (56% are Millennials).

Trend #2: Online information is where it’s at.

Oh, the Internet. That thing that came into our lives and changed everything forever—including how you conduct your real estate and mortgage business.

Online resources are extremely important.

We’ve heard the statistic that 90% of all home buyers shop for homes online. I mean, duh, of course they do. (Have you seen how cool/fun/easy it is to look for homes on ZRT?) And ZG’s report agrees, pointing out that 87% of buyers use an online resource during the home buying process.

But, in a plot twist akin to an M. Night Shyamalan movie, buyers who utilize online resources are MORE likely to also use an agent (77% vs 59%)!

When selling, Millennials, more than any other generation, use videos and social media sites to help sell their homes. And nearly three quarters of sellers who sold for at least 2% above list price prepared to sell by using online resources.

So, let’s think this through: if buyers and sellers are utilizing online resources AND they’re also using an agent, what would happen if you as the agent became their online resource? What if it was your website, blog, social media, and email newsletter they got information from? Imagine how unstoppable you’d be! Their business would be yours for sure.

But for that to happen, you have to put out content that will turn you into their go-to online resource. This confirms how important it is to create as much online content as possible in the form of blog posts, videos, social posts, and more. If you can become people’s trusted resource online, you will absolutely become their trusted agent or loan officer offline, both for buying and selling.

The Internet is your new referral partner.

Another thing I found FASCINATING about ZG’s report was this little morsel:

More than a quarter (26%) of buyers and 18% of sellers find an agent online, compared to 33% of buyers and 24% of sellers who find an agent by referral.

I personally had no idea that those numbers were so close. I was under the assumption that most people found their agent by referral, but according to ZG, they’re nearly neck and neck!

Oh and BTW, the number of people who find an agent online is 29% for buying Millennials and 24% for selling Millennials…

Only 3% of buyers find their agent through newspaper ads and 2% find them through direct mail such as postcards and newsletters. (So if I were you, I’d think about redirecting some of my marketing dollars).

Most Important Stats

  • More than a quarter (26%) of buyers find an agent online (29% for Millennials). This is compared to 33% who find an agent by referral.
  • 87% of buyers use online resources during the home buying process.
  • Buyers who utilize online resources during their home search are MORE likely to also use an agent (77% vs 59%).
  • Only 3% of buyers find their agent through newspaper ads and 2% find them through direct mail such as postcards or newsletters.
  • 54% of those who seek pre-approval do so online, and 51% of home buyers apply for their final mortgage using an online application.
  • Millennials are more likely to have video footage taken of their home (29%) and to promote their listing via social media sites (28%).
  • 73% of sellers who sold for at least 2% above list price prepared to sell by researching on the Internet. 66% of sellers looked at an agent’s sales record and 73% looked at their local reputation.

Trend #3: The agent is still VERY important.

Now, before you go thinking that you are one robot away from extinction as an agent, think about this: 75% of buyers and 88% of sellers hire an agent during their buying/selling process.

And those Millennials who are as comfortable researching you online as they are taking a selfie? They’re MORE likely to use an agent.

9 in 10 Millennials use online resources to sell their home and that same number STILL hire an agent.

So rest easy, you’re not being pushed out of the limelight. You’re actually becoming more important.

And to be honest this makes perfect sense. As more information permeates our world, it becomes harder and harder to sift through it all. It also becomes harder and harder to find good, quality information among all of the crap. If your high-quality content cuts through that noise, your content will sell you before you have to sell yourself.

This is why Millennials, more than any other generation, also expect their agents to be trusted advisors and strategists—not just home tour guides (even though that is the top service buyers want from their agents).

Oh and those pesky “I expect everything to be handed to me” Millennials you think you know? They’re MORE likely to pay a commission in the 4–5 percent range compared to Generation X, who are more likely to pay in the 2–3 percent range.

Most Important Stats

  • 75% of buyers hire a real estate agent during the buying process.
  • While Millennials are more likely to use online resources than any other generation, they’re also more likely to use an agent.
  • Millennials expect real estate agents to become trusted advisors and strategic partners.
  • The top service buyers want from their agents is private home tours (67%).
  • 90% of sellers who sold their home for at least 2% above list price worked with an agent.
  • 87% of Millennials use an agent and 88% use online resources to sell their home.
  • 36% of Gen X sellers pay 2-3% in commission compared to 31% of Millennials.
  • 34% of Millennial sellers pay 4-5% in commission compared to 30% of Gen X.

Trend #4: Catch them at the beginning (and then give them lots of info).

This last trend may not be directly apparent to many, but it was woven throughout this entire report.

First, there’s how long people take to buy and sell. Buyers spend 4.2 months on average shopping for a home (even longer if you include pre-qual and “thinking about it” time). The average seller considers putting their home on the market for 5 months—yes 5 months—before they actually list it. And 30% of sellers wish they’d started preparing for their home sale even earlier.

Then there’s that point when buyers and sellers involve an agent in the process. Half of buyers and nearly three quarters of sellers involve an agent at the VERY BEGINNING of the buying/selling process.

Finally, there’s client loyalty: over half of Millennials have recommended their agent to others. 40% stay in touch with their agent and they turn to their agent for home improvement advice TWICE as often as Generation X. 90% of buyers used the same lender for both pre-approval and the final mortgage loan.

All of these trends tell me one thing: it’s SO IMPORTANT to catch clients at the very beginning of their journey.

But how do you do this? How do you make sure you’re there right from the start?

Information.

Because long before any buyer buys or seller sells, they research. They research and they learn. I believe strongly that the agent who informs, wins. So if you want to catch buyers before they know they’re buyers and sellers before they know they’re sellers, you need to be their single most important source of information.

You need to blog. You need to record video. You need to interact on social media. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Literally one piece of content can change it all.”

And if you need help with all of this, give us a call. We’ve got the website, blog, social media, and email marketing prowess you need to succeed in today’s new market.

Most Important Stats

  • Buyers spend an average of 4.2 months shopping for a home.
  • Half (51%) of buyers who use an agent involve them at the very beginning of their home search.
  • 77% of buyers get pre-approved from a lender before finding a home they are interested in placing an offer on.
  • 90% of buyers used the same lender for both pre-approval and a final mortgage loan.
  • 55% of Millennials have recommended their agent to others and more than a quarter (26%) have left an online review of their agent.
  • 40% stay in touch with their agent, turning to a real estate professional for home improvement advice almost TWICE as often as Generation X and more often than other older owners.
  • Sellers consider putting their home on the market for 5 months on average before they list it.
  • 30% of sellers wished they’d started preparing to sell their home earlier.
  • 58% of sellers who sold their home for at least 2% above list price started working with an agent at the very beginning of the sale process.

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