After a rollercoaster ride of economic challenges, market trends and mortgage interest rates, real estate markets and particularly new home builders are looking ahead to 2024 with optimism. Indeed, economists agree that 2024 will be a better year than its predecessor and new home sales are expected to remain at peak levels as a share of the overall market.
So, 2024 is ripe with opportunity. But is your marketing and sales operation ready to realize it? As the days tick by and spring selling season approaches, read on for our take on seven critical keys to real estate marketing success in 2024.
#1 – Develop Your Brand’s Digital Presence
It may sound like an old story, but it’s truer than ever before. Home sales start online.
According to NAR’s 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report, 96% of home buyers report using the internet as the first source to search for their new home. That statistic is remarkably consistent across all age brackets with only 7% deviation between 24 to 32 year olds (99%) and 68 to 76 year olds (92%). And more importantly, they’re not just looking, they’re buying. 51% of all buyers reported that they found the home that they ultimately purchased on the internet – nearly double the next reported source (real estate agent).
It’s easy to see then, that if you want your homes to be found by prospective buyers, they need to be online in the right place, at the right time. That means developing a well-rounded online presence for your brand and your homes from a strong central website to social media and online reviews to a listing syndication and online ad program that makes sense for your business. The key is to meet your buyers where they are to catch their attention in a competitive market.
#2 – Tune Your Website
The core of your brand online is your central website. It’s a critical place to tell your brand story and convey key information about your company, your properties and homes, not to mention a valuable tool for lead generation and a landing spot for other online marketing initiatives. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your website is current, compelling and easy to use.
But what exactly do prospective buyers want in a website? The NAR’s 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report polled home buyers on the value of various website features and the response was pretty conclusive. 85% of all buyers named photos as “very useful” on the web, the top ranked feature. Photos were followed closely by detailed information about properties for sale which were ranked “very useful” by 80% of buyers. All other features fell far behind with contact information at 53% and floor plans at 49% coming up next on the list – a reminder that the web is a place to quickly and succinctly convey the essentials of what you have to offer.
Overwhelmingly, real estate search traffic is generated from mobile devices. So, having a current, easy to use website that’s not just mobile-friendly but mobile-forward is also crucial. Not sure if your website is up for the job? Review our quick website check-up checklist to see where you stand.
#3 – Leverage Social Media
Across the digital marketing landscape, social media has become an increasingly important driver of discovery and credibility in a competitive marketplace. In fact, HubSpot’s 2024 State of Marketing report found that not only was social media the #1 most used marketing channel, it was also ranked by brands as the highest-ROI marketing channel. Consumers increasingly look to discover, research and shop where they are already spending their time. A recent Consumer Trend Survey found that 64% of Gen Z, 59% of Millennials and 47% of Gen X discovered a product on social media in the past 3 months. On top of that, social media was reported as the most preferred product discovery channel, above even web search, for Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X with Boomers usage growing quickly as well.
You might think that homes aren’t the kind of “product” that social media users are looking for, but you’d be wrong. In fact in NAR’s national survey, agent cited social media as the best source for generating high-quality leads both organically and through paid programs. All that said, with so many different platforms, content types and frequent changes to manage, a smart, targeted strategy is the key to connecting with the right audience and achieving consistent performance and success on social media.
#4 – Market Locally, Online
The internet is a wide, wide place but more than ever before, consumers are searching locally when it comes to brands and businesses. In fact, Google tells us that 86% of consumers use Google and Maps to search specifically for local businesses. And since we all know real estate is about location, location, location – it should come as no surprise that getting your business and your homes for sale on the (online) map both literally and figuratively is critical.
Google Maps along with your Google Business Profiles are often unsung heroes when it comes to getting in front of your target audience. Using these tools, you can literally put your homes on the map right where your customers are looking, direct traffic to your website, manage reviews and your online reputation and post updates or promotions for audiences searching the local area.
#5 – Embrace Video
Video is an incredible way to let prospective buyers experience the homes and communities that you are selling from the comfort of their own devices. Still, many home builders and real estate firms shy away from it. Why? In many cases, there’s a fear factor when it comes to producing video that conjures up visions of super-slick, polished and highly produced pieces that take an abundance of time, resources and budget to produce. You may be surprised to learn then that the type of video that actually packs the most marketing punch is none of those things.
Short-form videos (generally considered anything under two and a half minutes but more commonly 60 seconds or less) are everywhere you look online. There’s a reason for that. Easy, authentic and bite-sized, short-form video continues to enjoy skyrocketing popularity among audiences and marketers alike. HubSpot’s 2024 State of Marketing report found again this year that short-form video is the marketing content format with the highest reported ROI. And that makes sense. The popularity of the format has already proven its resonance with audiences of all types contributing to strong results. At the same time, short-form video generally takes less production bandwidth and investment to create, helping to further boost its ROI. The preferred style for short-form video is more casual, authentic and can easily be filmed right on your phone.
#6 – Highlight Sustainability
Across all types of consumer markets, sustainability and eco-consciousness are increasingly at the forefront of customers’ minds. It’s no surprise then that sustainability is a hot topic for home buyers in 2024. In a recent article on real estate and design trends to watch, NAR’s REALTOR Magazine noted that sustainable energy use and conservation-friendly practices like native landscaping, solar panel arrays and EV charging are high on potential buyers’ interest lists. The already growing popularity of sustainability and efficiency trends in real estate got a further boost in 2023 with the Department of Energy announced federal incentives to help builders make certified Zero Energy Ready Homes standard.
But even if you’re not selling Zero Energy Homes just yet, it pays to highlight all the things your homes do have going for them on the sustainability front whether that’s high efficiency, low HERS scores, sustainable materials or native plants in the landscape. Not only do these things resonate with eco-friendly potential buyers, they can also save buyers money in utilities and cost of ownership making this messaging a win-win!
Looking for other hot features to highlight? Work from home spaces and wellness-focused features for both mental and physical health are also hot ticket items for home buyers in 2024.
# 7 – Elevate the Buyer Experience
As technology continues to proliferate, consumers are increasingly seeking out the best possible experience in a flooded field of options. User experience drives the online marketplace with implications that touch almost every stage of the marketing and sales funnel, starting at the top. Remember when SEO (search engine optimization) was all about keyword crams and hacks and tricks? Not anymore. While keyword optimization and other basics are still relevant, SEO has become much more intertwined with the overall content quality and the experience that it provides to a user. Google’s Core Web Vitals are now a powerful ranking signal aimed specifically at evaluating a user’s experience on a website and prioritizing those that provide the best.
And the importance of experience is not limited to search. Virtually everything we consume online is driven by an algorithm – whether it’s search engine results, social media feeds or ad serves. They all essentially boil down to the same thing: platforms optimize for the best user experience, so to keep your content visible focus on delivering the content audiences want with a positive experience. The next level of user experience is on the horizon as well as consumers and brands alike contemplate the possibilities of the metaverse from augmented and virtual reality to immersive experiences available directly on your phone or laptop. These types of solutions can be especially powerful when it comes to showcasing homes or visualizing new plans and communities so don’t shy away from exploring the new possibilities that may arise.
With smart strategy and consistent execution, home sales success is within reach in 2024.