Information and the educated homebuyer

More younger home-seekers are willing and able to do their own research


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The advent of the Internet has served to empower today’s consumer with the ability to do research and gain general knowledge on just about any topic, at any time, through the 24-hour cycle -- including, of course, real estate.

While raw information in and of itself doesn’t paint the entire picture, access to information can significantly influence consumer perspectives, trends and confidence.

A case in point about consumer self-education and its influences is found in a recent Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate national survey of 18-to-35-year-old Americans. The survey revealed that the impact of the past housing crisis has given rise to two of the most knowledgeable generations to become homebuyers, Generations X and Y, which account for an estimated 103 million Americans.

The survey found that these two generations of potential homebuyers are not deterred from home buying and believe owning a home is a key indicator of success (75 percent). Furthermore, they are willing to do their research and save in ways that may surprise those who believe the values of Gen X and Y have strayed from those of their parents, including taking a second job and moving in with mom and dad.

Gen X and Y members appear to be doing their homework before making one of the biggest investments of their lives – 69 percent of those surveyed said they believe that the recent housing downturn has made them more knowledgeable about homeownership than their parents were at their age.

The ability to freely access information and conduct research at their own pace is shaping the future lifestyle decisions of these two demographic groups. The information has also served to give them confidence through knowledge. The next question for these folks and any of us interested in homeownership is, how do we leverage so much information?

Leveraging information

Without a doubt, this new generation has gained much of its knowledge from online sources. A wide variety of websites can be accessed to find what is available for sale and even allow users to drill down into estimated property values, forecasts, days on market per listing, view virtual tours, obtain school data and see up to 50 pictures of a single property.

Other websites offer information to further enhance one’s buying decision by providing advice on such topics as color palettes for certain room types, latest designs trends, new home products, building techniques, home staging and moving tips.

Information on its own without having it linked directly to practical day-to-day applications -- in this case, the real estate process -- is just information, and therefore not leveraged.

One of the key roles of today’s qualified real estate agent is the interpretation and analysis of critical information and then applying it to the goals of their client.

A savvy real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the local market, the associated buying-selling process and can provide sound guidance that in a meaningful way merges consumers’ own research into their real estate experience.

If one were to study the mechanical aspects of a real estate transaction, it may appear simple. But here is the reality of it: Each real estate transaction is complicated because it typically involves the lives of multiple families, all with unique needs, which are then thrust into ever more complicated legal and financing processes, all of which usually have to conclude within 30 to 60 days.

The agent is the conductor to this potentially cacophonous process, keeping all the players reading from the same page.

As educated consumers, we are all looking for, deserving of and, in fact, demanding exceptional service, regardless of our type of purchase. An educated consumer brings a stronger knowledge base to the experience, which in turn allows for higher-level discussions around their needs and desired results. The ability of a real estate agent and their educated client to work at these higher levels of understanding creates stronger outcomes for all participants.

Christopher J. Masiello is CEO and president of Keene-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group.

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