Earlier this year, the government announced that it will subsidise large-scale construction of houses for first-time buyer purchasers (FTBs) aged between 23 and 40. With development expected to begin this year, the government predicts over 200,000 properties will be built, providing FTBs with unprecedented access to the property ladder.
This represents a colossal shift in the UK property industry. Recent statistics claim the decline of house purchases among younger demographics is caused by increasing house and rental prices. In 2014, fewer than one in ten aged 16 – 24 owned homes, and only 35.8 per cent of 25 – 34 year olds qualified as homeowners. As a result, the property market may be less in touch with the changing needs of young FTBs, so how can it adapt to successfully navigate the FTB rush, and take steps to remain competitive?
78% of FTBs value speed of communication with their agent more than everything else.
Recognise that FTBs can find the buying process daunting, after all it’s a substantial financial investment, and a huge personal commitment. Therefore, FTBs will probably rely on the estate agent’s expert knowledge of the market and buying process to make a well-informed decision. Research from Dezrez found that 85 per cent of UK home buyers aged between 18 and 34 prefer to have a personal agent, enabling a more personalised service, catering to their specific needs.
Recognise the value of time as a resource to FTBs, with the majority juggling an on-the-go lifestyle between hectic professional, social, and personal calendars. Successful estate agents will conduct the buying process quickly and efficiently, while still providing a thorough and personalised level of service. Dezrez’s research supports this, noting that 78 per cent of UK house buyers aged between 18 and 34 value speed of communications with estate agents over everything else.
To meet the conflicting demands of personalisation and efficiency, twinning agencies will already be modernising, accepting digital technology as a vital part of the buying process. Some agents have, historically, been reluctant to accept technological advancements, viewing it as disruptive. However, 67 per cent of respondents believed estate agents were not using technology to its full potential, and 44 per cent strongly agreed that estate agents must adopt and embrace technology in order to survive. Tech-savvy agents realise that by putting the needs of the customer before the needs of the business, technology can actually improve customer satisfaction, providing them with an additional revenue stream.
Cloud software is demonstrative of this point. Currently in its early stages, the implementation of cloud software means agents can populate digital brochures for buyers using a mobile device on-the-go, at any time of day. Alongside quick and convenient 24/7 access, this investment provides greater opportunities for agents to cross-reference the needs of customers against the properties available on the database, providing a truly personalised service.
To achieve a personal connection with FTBs, successful agents will be engaging with their preferred channel: social media. Considering that social media mismanagement can sometimes hinder rather than help, it is important to carefully plan a social media project use the channel to its full potential, to create a meaningful connection with people.
So, the successful agents will strive for quality over quantity, aim to be the best they possibly can on select channels. By focusing on select platforms, they can ensure that they post frequent content which is relevant to FTBs, and consistent to the style and tone of previous content. These channels may differ depending on the agent, but it’s generally recommended that agents engage with Facebook and Twitter as these have the largest audiences of potential customers.
Finally, by linking property portfolios with other relevant applications, estate agents can use digital technology to enhance services without additional costs. This could mean providing in-site access to Google Maps / Street View, providing a wish list function for user property preferences, and enabling subscriptions for regular email notifications of relevant properties.
As a result, they can facilitate a more thorough and personalised service, giving consumers access to a greater depth of contextual information on their choices. This facilitates a more efficient buying process, wherein consumers can effectively filter the most relevant properties for them, prior to scheduling physical viewings.
By embracing technology, these forward thinking estate agents will provide better customer service, and the capacity for greater responsiveness and personalisation. With the right solutions, estate agents can remain connected and able to meet the technological demands of younger demographics, preparing themselves for the imminent FTB rush.