We’ve heard it time and again, content is king of the digital realm. But in real estate, it’s not just any content that counts.
In a slowing market, the buyer is in the driver’s seat, and they’re more educated, time-poor and expectant of service than at any time in the industry’s history.
“It’s no secret in the last 12 to 18 months, the real estate market in Australia has changed,” notes DIAKRIT Managing Director and co-founder Dick Karlsson.
“Buyers are seeking more impetus to attend open houses, and the agents that accommodate their needs are better positioned to attain a sale.”
Mr Karlsson’s company specialises in interactive experiences and immersive listing presentations, helping the buyer see potential in any home. Their services include 2D floor plans, furnished 3D floor plans, professional photography, virtual walk-throughs, virtual furnishings and virtual renovations.
DIAKRIT entered the Australian market in 2016 and, in addition to securing some of the biggest names in the local real estate industry, the company has more than 2000 customers worldwide.
From this unique international perspective, Mr Karlsson notes now is the time Australian companies should be securing their digital defences by offering a unique content experience that meets both the buyers’ and the vendors’ needs in a market undergoing a rapid shift.
“Both agents and agency directors have been caught by surprise that buyers are not coming to opens in the droves they once were,” Mr Karlsson reflects.
“We’ve been seeing that internationally in markets like the US and Europe for the past 3½ years, but in Australia, agents are only really beginning to take stock of what that means.”
THE EDUCATED BUYER
In a digitally savvy age, prospective buyers are searching, perusing, virtually shopping and seeking to experience real estate in entirely new ways.
Their medium of choice is just as likely to be Facebook, Instagram, REA and Domain as it is to be a real estate agent’s website when it comes to finding a new home.
As a result, a broad digital footprint is imperative, Mr Karlsson explains. But it’s what a prospective buyer finds when they get there that can bridge the gap between window shopping and the emotional investment required to inspect and buy a home.
“The years of agents keeping something up their sleeve when it comes to information about a property are dead,” Mr Karlsson says.
“Photos and scanned floor plans are no longer enough. Today’s buyer is time-poor and comparing the real estate experience with everything else they do online.
“They’re expecting to have all the information at their fingertips, whether that’s 2am or 2pm. They want accurate and complete insight into a property, to envisage themselves within it, and once they know it ticks all the boxes, an inspection is the next step.”
THE EXPECTANT VENDOR
As agents feel the pressure to engage with prospective buyers, there’s also a mounting expectation from the vendors they serve.
A slowing market means agents are now more accountable for their marketing practices and the point of difference they offer their clientele.
An agency’s online presence is often the first port of call when vendors consider the representative they will engage, and they’re looking for unique, standout marketing strategies that will differentiate their property from the crowd.
Meanwhile, contrary to years gone by, a vendor’s interest in what a sales representative will offer no longer ends when they appoint an agent.
“More and more vendors are asking for transparency in the marketing process,” Mr Karlsson says.
“They’re looking to see who has engaged with their property at what level. They’re seeking agents who can find prospective buyers in new and innovative ways, and then they want measurements and proof about how they’re doing it.”
A CASE IN POINT
Last year Barfoot & Thompson in New Zealand engaged DIAKRIT. With 1,700 sales agents in Auckland alone, the company is the nation’s largest privately-owned real estate agency and claims responsibility for selling one in three Auckland properties.
DIAKRIT’s interactive tools were integrated across mobile and desktop website applications, and then comprehensively measured to see the outcome and gauge response from the market.
Mr Karlsson says the results speak for themselves.
The research concluded:
- Listing views doubled, thereby doubling website traffic.
- Potential buyers spent three times longer on a listing.
- Agents received twice the number of phone and email inquiries.
“What prospective buyers found engaging were interactive floor plans and full interactive solutions,” Mr Karlsson says.
“This offered them the information they needed to call or email an agent, and when they did, they were a smoking hot lead. In a subdued market, that is the currency agents are looking for.”
THE STRESS FACTOR
Real estate offers a remarkable dichotomy. Buying a home might be the largest and most stress-laden financial commitment people make in their lifetime, but research has previously indicated a buyer spends less than an hour in a property before committing to a purchase.
Mr Karlsson notes a lifelike digital experience of that property can help alleviate those fears.
“The stress of purchasing is tremendous, particularly when it comes to auctions,” he explains.
“A good agent has everything online so the buyer can seek reassurance. The buyer might use that information to show the property to their parents or their children. They might spend hours imagining themselves living there, allocating bedrooms or redesigning living spaces. All these digital experiences help relieve that stress.”
THE WORLD THROUGH THE BUYER’S EYES
Mr Karlsson notes the buyer is now at the centre of the real estate journey, and the agents who have this front of mind will not only survive in a subdued market but position themselves to thrive in the years to come.
“Agents need to be asking themselves: ‘what would I need in the customer experience of buying a home?’ I don’t think a lot of agents have previously focused on that experience. Those who start catering to that buyer, by offering them the information and experience they need, will come out stronger in the years ahead.”
You can learn more about DIAKRIT and the real estate services they offer at diakrit.com.