A funny thing happened after we launched Doorsteps, an online tool we explicitly designed and marketed to agents. Buyers kept signing up. And not just one or two. Dozens. Then hundreds. Then we lost count.
To be fair, this wasn’t entirely a shock. Doorsteps was conceived as a shared online workspace to help give agents a well-designed way to guide their buyers through the home-buying journey. It’s packed with 100% unbiased, insider information, and lots of smart tools to help their buyers (and potential buyers) make faster, better decisions.
We knew that buyers needed this kind of step-by-step support, and that there were no good places to get a really clear understanding of all the moving pieces. And certainly not in a single place to see it all in context. But what was surprising was how badly they wanted it, even before they had connected with an agent. In a nutshell, they were too impatient to wait to be invited in. They wanted to get going right here, right now.
Looking back, though, it makes perfect sense. Home-buyers are different today than they were even five or ten years ago. This is a generation used to using technology to organize their lives, to connect with others, to make decisions. They expect – and increasingly demand – transparency. And they are surrounded by really well-designed tools they use every single day, whether they are trying to find the right doctor or book a table in a restaurant. So their standards for home-buying went way up even before many of them had bought their first home.
Especially for GenY, who watched their older siblings get pummeled in the housing crisis and don’t want to make the same mistakes. Or even GenX, who last bought a home seven or eight years ago and realize the landscape fundamentally shifted beneath them in the meantime.
Which is why we recently built a buyer-facing version of Doorsteps that would allow any buyer to use the app even before contacting an agent. The best part? The app now actually helps them find the right agent, and they will be way more organized, prepared, and ready to do so when they actually take that step. Pretty soon they’ll be able to find the right lender right within Doorsteps, too. And then the best-of-the-best service providers out there— home insurance, moving companies, you name it.
So it’s a win-win. Buyers get to begin their journey on their own terms, if they choose to. But agents get to step in when those buyers are truly prepared and eager to take the step from curious to committed. Which is why Doorsteps agents are thrilled to connect with buyers who are already in the system, and why it’s such a personal joy for us to be able to enable that connection. It’s not just, “Hey, Jennifer, I saw a listing online that looked sort of nice. Should we meet?”, but more like “Hey, I’m pre-approved, I have clearly articulated my wants and needs, I have a realistic budget in mind, I have a general understanding of which neighborhoods may make the most sense for my life stage and family, and I’d like to move within three months. Should we meet?”.
You can imagine which of those buyers agents have told us they would like to work with more. And, honestly, this is what buyers want, too.
So we’re really excited to announce the launch of two Doorsteps. The agent version, which real estate professionals know and love. And the buyer version, which buyers demanded. And it’s a great lesson for any startup, or any real estate business. Listen. Be nimble. Be open to learn something you weren’t quite expecting. And make sure your welcome mat is as wide as it ought to be.
And even if you don’t use a lot of technology yourself, embody the characteristics that makes using technology so attractive to your clients. Clarity. Openness. Transparency. And for goodness sake, give ‘em what they want. If it happens to also be what they need, all the better.