There are a variety of ways to find and connect with buyers digitally— whether it be through social media platforms, carefully placed ads on home search platforms, proprietary mobile apps, AI-driven chat bots or something a little more old school like text messages and emails.

But with more options come more problems, namely resisting the urge to chase the newest thing and instead focus on what buyers truly want. But what exactly do they want?

According to the National Association of Realtors Real Estate in a Digital Age report released on Monday, consumers are adopting a mobile-first approach for finding potential properties, viewing listing photos, and researching home buying tips.

Seventy-six percent of all buyers found their home on a mobile device, with Older Millennials (81 percent), Younger Millennials (80 percent), and Gen-Xers (78 percent) leading the way. On the other hand, only 17 percent of all buyers found their agent on a mobile device. But Younger Millennials are warming up to this option — 23 percent of this generation found their agent on a mobile device.

Buyers’ mobile habits by generation | Credit: NAR

Although consumers are more likely to use a mobile device to complete their home buying process, many buyers still look to desktop websites to view additional photos (87 percent), read more detailed property information (85 percent), access floor plans (52 percent), take virtual tours (46 percent), and find an agent’s contact information (42 percent).

Overall 98 percent of buyers conducted their research online, and spent an average of 10 weeks searching for properties, agents, and other information.

Real estate agents and brokerages seem to be in-tune with buyers’ preference for a digital-based home buying experience. More than 90 percent of agents use their smartphones (95 percent) or a desktop/laptop computer (90 percent) in their day-to-day business. But, there could be an improvement when it comes to the kind of content agents and brokerages are sharing online.

The most common website features | Credit: NAR

Residential real estate brokerages are doing an excellent job with meeting buyer demand for property listings, with 94 percent of brokerage websites prominently featuring available homes. They’re also doing a good job with providing agents’ contact information, with 76 percent of websites including agent profiles.

But, brokerages seem to be falling a bit short when it comes to sharing additional home buying information outside of property and agent details, which is one of the top reasons buyers go online. Only half of brokerage sites include mortgage and financial calculators or list explainers of the home buying and selling process.

While some brokerages are ahead of the digital learning curve, nearly half of brokerages (46 percent) said “keeping up with technology” will be one of their top challenges over the next two years.

According to agents, brokerages need to do better in providing predictive analytics (36 percent) and CRMs (35 percent) in order to keep up with buyers’ evolving needs.

Email Marian McPherson

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