Can you remember the last time you worked in your office? Not just to grab your mouse and comfy chair, but actually entered the office before 9 AM and stayed until after 5? For me and my NetLine marketing colleagues, it was March 14th; we’ve all been working remotely ever since. I’m sure the story for many of you is the same.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about the commercial or residential side of the industry, the Real Estate profession certainly finds itself in a curious place. According to data from Realtor.com, and analysis from Norada, median listing prices are up 12.4% with properties selling nearly two weeks faster than in 2019. One of the biggest reasons for this is due to the lack of inventory in the market—total listings are down a staggering 39% YOY.
The commercial side of the business, surprisingly, appears to be fairing a bit better than expected. According to Commercial Real Estate Trends & Outlook, a report published by the National Association of Realtors, the office market has been impacted by The Pause, but hasn’t been crushed, fortunately. The report also states that commercial sales fell 5% year-over-year in 2020 Q2, with leasing volume fell by 4%, and construction down 5%.
With people staying in their homes in more ways than one, we wanted to get a better sense of how this has impacted Real Estate content consumption and the types of information these professionals are after. To answer these questions, we dug into Audience Explorer to find out just what the Real Estate profession is pursuing.
Getting a Lay of the Land for the Real Estate Audience
As we always do to start, let’s choose “Real Estate” from the buyer selection dropdown menu and choose “United States” from the Region filter. By selecting the U.S. as our Region, this brings our total number of content recommendations from 66,349 to 62,298 over the last 180 days.
Remember: even when audience numbers are smaller than other audiences within Audience Explorer, it’s important to recognize that niche is nice. Just like buying your first start home, it’s better to start smaller and work your way up and out than it is to go broad and work backwards.
Let’s begin to build the case from this report.
What We Can Decipher From the Top Trending Topics
From a B2B marketer’s perspective, there are only three topics here that appear to be directly connected to the world of Real Estate: Small Business, Commercial Banking, and Facilities Management. Every other trending topic on this list could be something you’d see on any number of Top 10 lists. Perhaps that is connected to something larger. Wonder what that could be…
We hate to keep mentioning it but the influence of COVID-19 and its impact on everything in our lives is undeniable and ubiquitous. Each audience we seem to analyze shows the marks of COVID impact. Every Top 10 list includes one or more IT/Computer/Technology topics. Businesses that have always operated in a face-to-face capacity have been forced to adapt to a new Digital-First reality. It is this new reality that puts IT Reliability at the top of the Trending Topics list.
Innovation is an interesting topic on this list at 6. Given the obstacles before us, it’s clear that businesses have to evolve to compete. What does this look like in the world of Real Estate?
To answer those questions and provide more context around these trends, we asked Mary Byrnes, a realtor-marketer based in Philadelphia with over 30 years in the field, to share her thoughts around what life has been like for Real Estate professionals, how COVID-19 has changed her business, and what specifically is driving this new tech adoption.
Providing Context: An Expert’s Perspective
Since mid-March, Byrnes has had to use everything at her disposal to continue serving her clients and protect her business. How she has navigated this moment in time certainly has been innovative and showcases why technology is so prevalent on the Trending Topics list.
“There are so many new ways that professional Realtors have reacted to COVID-19 that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few,” Byrnes said. “Realtors were not allowed to leave their homes to sell Real Estate in Pennsylvania, so working around this took some ingenuity.”
On Business Intelligence and IT Reliability:
“Cyber Security has been a hot topic for a few years but even more so during the shut-down. Gmail is a big factor in hackers getting into settlement rooms and stealing client’s equity and funds right before closings.
Using secure wifi is so important and most Realtors are oblivious to this as you see them in Starbucks and in Paneras openly using the unsecured networks. WiFi sharing in a household of students and workers was debilitating, so I used my MIFI at home when the Internet was overwhelmed during school and work hours with 6 users at home. Using this also allowed me to protect my client’s information.
“One client of mine was relocating and listed their house right before the shut-down. He had to leave town and his work was interrupted by having to do FaceTime tours with buyers. We used Facetime to “show” the homes which offered some interesting advantages to both sides because normally, they never get to talk.
In order to minimize the number of people inside of a home, a home inspector I work with went alone and recorded a live and interactive home inspection video in 3 segments: Interior, Exterior and The Lot using the Marco Polo App. Using this app, we were all able to watch the home inspection in real time and could ask questions or point out concerns from the App. This Marco Polo App interactive recording home inspection is an idea that I believe should stick around even after COVID-19 goes away.”
On Commercial Banking:
“COVID-19 separated the men from the boys. Most lenders were flailing while the few good ones had sufficient funding and drive to get buyers over the finish line despite the constant curveballs. Digital signatures were not allowable with lenders but we found ways to work through that one eventually. Some Internet lenders collapsed because they had no backbone funding to sustain them.”
What the Buyer Stream Tells Us
What immediately jumps out here is the level of professional consuming content from this field. In the 8 examples provided, 6 of the buyers were at or above the VP level. If you want specific proof that the Real Estate field is moving on the fly, seeing the interest from these Job Levels certainly provides it.
The second interesting detail is that the topics they’re consuming are all unique. Sure there are connections with the 5 technology topics, but they’re not carbon copies. These organizations all have technology questions but their own priorities and needs.
While we see that one Senior Manager registered for a Live Virtual Event, it’s clear that text is the preferred format of consumption for Real Estate pros (which we’ll confirm again later). White Papers, eBooks, and Research Reports were
quite popular across this sampling.
Slicing Up the Pie Charts
The most visual, and interactive, portion of Audience Explorer is the pie chart section. Here, content consumption data is broken down into 4 specific categories: Job Function, Job Level, Company Employee Size, and Company Industry.
Almost 40% of the total content requests were made by Agents or Brokers. Considering that so many realtors are solopreneurs or partners in a smaller company, this is somewhat expected. However, there are still the big boys like Berkshire-Hathaway and other investment firms able to strike in a market starved for inventory, making it easier to connect the dots with Senior Management.
Property Managers are third on this list, followed by General Management and Leasing/Acquisition. As we saw with the NAR report, leasing is down compared to 2019 so these professionals are likely looking for content that can help them to position their buildings and office spaces in the best light possible. It’s a complete guess, but perhaps they’re more likely to consume Innovation content than anything else.
The Job Level filter allows you to review which job titles/levels of seniority are interacting with content. In the Real Estate audience, Owners (18.1%) make up the majority of active consumers, followed by the VP (16.6%) & Manager (11.1%) levels. Knowing that the VP level was very engaged in the Buyer Stream, let’s filter this report by their Job Level.
By doing this we see that the majority of these professionals are also Agents or Brokers working predominantly in the field of Real Estate (58.9%). What is most intriguing about the industries following the Real Estate profession, however, is seeing Finance (9.8%) and Telecommunications (7.1%) surpassing Construction 4th (6.3%). Given the obvious relationship between construction and Real Estate, this may be a bit surprising initially. But when you begin to think about it, you’ll remember that Real Estate doesn’t happen with commercial banking (finance)…oh, and we love Netflix and Instagram (telecommunications) and they need wires in the ground and in the sky to make WiFI happen.
Company Employee Size
Admittedly, I was surprised to see 1 to 4 sitting at the bottom of the pile at 5.3%. Given that nearly 40% of the consumers in this audience are Agents and roughly 20% are Owners, I would have expected to see more shops in the 1 – 25 employee range with a greater slice of the pie.
Then again, when you look at the Most Active In-Market Companies, the 50,000+ at 12% begins to make a lot more sense. Anytime you see Walmart, CBRE, and Cushman & Wakefield, you know you’re playing with the big boys.
Naturally, Real Estate is the big winner here at 57.6%. Retail and Consumer Goods, Finance, and Service Industries round out the Top 4 fields with the rest of the market fighting over 2.5% or less, respectively.
Which Type of Content is Requested Most?
Despite the fact that eBook consumption is up nearly 2% overall from 2019, White Papers are the preferred format in this profession. White Papers are the most “scientific” and “buttoned-up” of all the content formats. When you factor in the amount of legal, financial, and municipal knowledge that is required by those in the Real Estate, White Papers stand out as a logical choice.
Closing the Deal
The professionals in the Real Estate audience are a resilient bunch. They’re working day and night to serve their clients and acquire new tenants. If your business is in the technology, finance, or human resources industries, this is an audience that needs your expertise to improve their professional footing and improve their standing in their respective markets and meet the new needs of their customers.
We’ll be back next month with another Audience Explorer breakdown of a brand new audience. Let us know if there’s one you’d like to know more about!
Special thanks to Mary Byrnes for providing her expertise and insight to this article. She is one of the Top 5% of Realtors Nationwide and has served the Philadelphia Suburbs for more than 30 years.