The future of homebuying is the digital experience. This is due to customer behavior. Because customers determine the strategy behind a product’s marketing plan. And customers are turning to the internet for their answers.
With the integration of digital technologies driving the user experience, companies need to better understand how their customers think and interact online. Big data and machine learning systematically analyze user behavior through smart devices, and works to improve the ease of the homebuying experience through the comfort of a person’s phone. Because of this, real estate professionals and mortgage lenders are beginning to adopt online tools for a new wave of digital homebuyers.
How are homebuyers interacting online?
According to Real Estate Tech Trends, by Properties Online:
- 95% of homebuyers used the internet to search for a house.
- 54% of homebuyers used the Internet as the first step in the homebuying process.
Coming from a full-service mortgage lender myself, I can say with 100% honesty that a majority of new customers begin the homebuying process through the internet. If there is a problem that needs to be solved, it’s easier to look it up on your phone than it is to learn about it through the classroom or pick up a book and read about it. This interconnectivity translates into all aspects of life: work, shopping, friends, and family. Even buying a house. Customers are able to get whatever information they want from wherever they are. They don’t even need a computer. They can use a cellphone.
How does mobile work with homebuyers?
In the last seven years,
- Mobile usage increased by over 200%.
- 50% of global website traffic came from mobile.
- 62% of people accessed the internet with their mobile phone.
The majority of customers mortgage lenders receive from the internet are mobile users, about 95%. And like I’ve said above, at least for Starboard Financial, for Facebook and Google, almost all of them are from mobile. Homebuyers, like most customers that turn to the internet for support, expect a quick answer. One of the ways mortgage lenders have been able to measure success with customers is determined by response time. The quicker and more personalized the response is, the more likely they are to acquire a new customer.
- Customers want to hear back within a short period of time.
- They want the messaging to feel like it’s for them.
- They want products that they want, and expect the experience to be tailored to what they are searching for.
Tools for the online experience
There are many tools customers and lenders can use to streamline the homebuying process, for a quick and personalized user experience. For homebuyers:
- 3D walkthroughs: This makes house hunting digital by providing an easily accessible, 360-degree view of a property.
- Virtual Staging: Allows homebuyers and sellers to visualize what the house will look like.
- Mortgage affordability calculators: Everything can be calculated online in minutes with the right calculator. Also useful for mortgage lender and real estate agent websites, since homebuyers can do the math quickly and efficiently, which helps to create a seamless user experience.
- Budgeting apps / Saving tools: This is where homebuyers can figure out how to save for a down payment and closing costs, as well as other homebuying expenses.
For mortgage lenders or real estate professionals:
- Live Chat: Customer like to interact. With a live chat function, this can give them the piece of mind they need to spend time on your site and inquire about your service.
- CRMs: Very useful to track user behavior. The date can be used to improve the overall user experience.
- Secure portal: A secure portal can increase customer satisfaction by allowing buyers to see where they are in the loan process, what their loan status is, and what else is required without having to wait for an answer. A great way to integrate the front-end experience with the back-end.
The future of homebuying
At the end of the day, it’s about the customer journey. People are connected, savvy with digital technologies, and very aware of how to go about getting the information they want. Real estate professionals need to utilize the proper technologies to meet their customers’ needs.
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