Let’s just call it. Working not only “smarter”, but more intentionally and authentically, is going to be the biggest real estate trend in 2022.
The pandemic brought about a sea of change in the way real estate agents do business, and all signs indicate those changes won’t be going away anytime soon.
More than ever, brokers, team leaders, and high-octane agents will have to rely on technology to convert leads and close more deals.
But the days of ‘set it and forget it’ are over.
The real estate leaders of 2022 and beyond will be those who actively identify better, more productive, and more intentional ways to use technology in order to successfully and authentically connect with prospects.
- The cost of paid leads is on a sharp and steady increase.
- Customer acquisition costs are more important than ever.
- Automation for the sake of automation just isn’t enough.
Today’s homebuyers and sellers have a lot less patience for faceless digital “solutions”. They want more from their agents. More attention. More responsiveness. More options.
The real estate trends for 2022 aren’t just passing fads
Before we get into the real estate trends expected to dominate the 2022 real estate agenda, it’s important to note that while they’re called trends, the dynamics at play this year will hardly call for ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ strategies.
Sure, today’s low interest rates and tight inventories won’t last forever. But the new approaches, strategies and systems required to engage leads in a fast-paced and heavily digital market are most likely here to stay.
“The question isn’t just how do I fill the top of the funnel, but how do I get the most out of my existing database, and have the technology ready to go each time someone raises their hand.”
- Gabe Cordova, Head Realtor in Residence at Ylopo
The challenges of generating leads, breaking through the noise to reach consumers, capturing market share, and delivering an awesome customer experience have become part of the fabric of doing business.
And as pros like Ryan O’Neill, founder of The Minnesota Real Estate Team of RE/MAX Advantage Plus, will tell you, “Agents will need to continue to stay focused, consistent, and dedicated to providing the best customer service they can.“
So now that we’ve got the helicopter view, how will these transformations translate into the day-to-day systems that can propel your business forward?
Here are the seven key real estate trends and tactics for 2022.
#1. Reduced reliance on third-party home search portals
Depending on the market, real estate agents spend anywhere from 25% to 42% of their commission checks on lead referral fees from home search sites like Zillow and Redfin, and those costs are expected to keep escalating.
However, agents are pivoting focus to nurturing the contacts they already have in their database. Existing leads not only come free of charge, they also offer agents an easier path toward providing a better customer experience.
Howard Tager, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Ylopo, says real estate consumers are increasingly frustrated with home search portals.
“They’re exhausted from seeing incorrect data, and they’re exhausted by having their question sent to multiple people and having their phones blow up.”
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Lead nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint.
The agents that take the time to consistently keep showing up, while creating moments for authentic person-to-person connection throughout the homebuying journey will be the ones who rise above the increasing chatter coming from paid portals.
According to Gabe at Ylopo, “The buyer journey can take anywhere from 3 months to 18 months. The future is being able to out-nurture the portal so when a lead has questions, instead of going back to the Internet to become someone else’s lead, they are coming back to the person who first provided value, established the relationship, and gave them a map to achieving their goal.”
#2. Automation 3.0 will require a strategic approach
The introduction of automated systems for answering calls and qualifying leads was a welcome relief when chasing down every lead left zero time for agents to tackle the many other things on their plate (let alone have a social life).
But with the increase in agents and teams using automation to convert more leads, it’s time to fine tune the process.
Here’s how Jessie Beaudoin, founder and CEO of CallAction, explains the highest use for automated systems:
“Focus on the thing that is your highest dollar productivity, which is having conversations with the right people at the right time and automating anything that is tedious and repetitive because that’s what automation is good for.”
For everything else, a back-to-fundamentals approach of focusing on ways to deliver value to prospects through genuine human connection is what will really move the needle.
#3. Use smart analytics to drive ROI
Counting up the leads that come from Facebook ads is all well and good, but moving forward, agents and team leaders need a full picture of how much they’re spending and where.
Jenny Wemert, CEO of Wemert Realty Group in Orlando, has successfully transformed her business into a 72-agent real estate powerhouse with $300 million in sales. Let’s just say, she knows a thing or two about using analytics to build razor-sharp focus.
According to Jenny, “Agents can really only handle 3-4 A-buyers (hair on fire, we’re going to be homeless tomorrow if we can’t buy a home) at a time.”
The way she sees it, making sure agents aren’t spinning their wheels chasing every lead is critical for maximum productivity.
“Until you get a handle on those numbers, and understand where your leads are coming from and where you should spend your time and effort, you’re probably leaving a lot on the table.”
With a little help from Wemert's operations ace Emily Smith, Jenny and the team have been able to steadily scale their revenue and referral rate, while making sure their agents have everything they need to keep a healthy pace.
#4. Sharper focus on inbound marketing
Jessie from CallAction also points out that the top three things customers look for in a real estate agent are:
- Knowledge and expertise
But agents simply have too much to do to spend time calling leads until they get a response. And even if they did, potential clients aren’t likely to be in the best frame of mind when their day is interrupted by an agent asking what they’re looking for.
The way he sees it, the goal of using automated email, text, and phone tools is to turn outbound marketing efforts into an inbound call by allowing customers to respond when it’s convenient for them.
“You have to do outbound outreach to get their attention, but if you make an outbound call, you’re tending to interrupt them and that conversation doesn’t go as smoothly as when people are responding with an inbound conversation. We want to keep agents in the zone of highest dollar productivity, which is inbound conversations from customers who are ready to have conversations with them.”
By using automated systems to reach out to customers, agents can show that they’re responsive (which builds trust), while also taking the opportunity to show off their knowledge and expertise at a moment when the customer is ready to listen to it.
#5. Agents will have to “distraction-proof” their social media strategies
TikTok has taught us a thing or two about communicating, and one of the chief takeaways for real estate marketing in 2022 is that short-form video content is a stellar way to engage with customers.
In fact, 89% of global marketers plan to use short form video content in 2022, compared to just 31% in 2021.
Like it or not, attention spans are not what they used to be. When your message is short and to-the-point, you’ll have a better chance of actually reaching your customers.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for long-form videos when communicating detailed information to a targeted lead, but at the top of the real estate funnel, cutting to the chase will likely be the best option for reaching customers on social media as we move into the year.
#6. No letup for mid-market buyers
It’s no secret inventory has been exceptionally low in many markets going on several years now, and the shortage has led to sharp increases in housing prices. Though the pandemic made the housing shortage worse, experts say it didn’t cause the problem.
One of the main reasons agents are having a hard time coming up with inventory to address client’s needs is that housing construction hasn’t kept pace with population growth.
But the pandemic has also shifted location and housing preferences, and together with the ongoing shortage, finding homes to meet buyers’ needs and budget requirements has become increasingly difficult.
None of that is likely to change anytime soon.
As Christy Budnick, CEO at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, puts it, “Expect a strong seller’s market for the next 2 — and quite possibly more than 3 — years.”
“Continue to expect frothy multiple offer situations in more modest price points with heavy investor activity and a great deal of cash in this stratum,” she says. “Primary, and particularly first-time home buyers, will continue to feel stress in this price range, and some will be priced out of the market as mortgage interest rates rise.”
Christy expects a slight uptick in listing inventory and days on market this year, along with some easing of multiple offers for mid- to higher-priced homes. Unfortunately for buyers looking for more modestly priced properties, relief may not be on the horizon.
#7. Changes in the tech and finance industries will fuel relocations
The growth of tech hubs in Texas and Colorado, combined with an increase in remote work, will force a redistribution of employment centers away from Silicon Valley and New York.
As tech companies relocate to cities with more accessible housing options, employees are following, says real estate expert Alison Bernstein, president and founder of Suburban Jungle.
“Austin has emerged as a tech hub with so many companies setting up headquarters, and the Silicon slope areas of Denver, CO and Park City, UT are also in the mix,” Alison says.
“We are seeing the same for the financial industry moving from New York to Florida,” she adds. “Weather, taxes, quality of life, college incentives and more are the driving forces here.”
Buyers looking to relocate will need more consultation, and agents serving this market will find themselves firmly seated in the role of advisor — not just for the home purchase, but also to help buyers understand the market dynamics at play in their newly adopted cities.
Change is the only certainty
As with all things 2020s, change is the name of the game.
And agility is the only response.
Maybe that’s why we’re seeing a continued increase in tech adoption by real estate agents. According to last year’s National Association of Realtors® Technology Survey, Realtors’, use of customer relationship management (CRM) software will increase from 37% in 2021 to 44% in 2022.
Similarly, the usage of both lead gen software and digital marketing platforms is predicted to grow by 5% this year, from 22% to 27% for the former and 15% to 20% for the latter.
By now, one thing is clear:
The future of real estate tech is about so much more than e-signature tools.
Agents looking to win bigger than ever in 2022 will need to come up with new ways of wielding each and every tool in their tech stack to generate lasting ROI.
Now, over to you. Which one of these trends will you focus on this year? How will you use your tools, systems, and sales philosophy to help hit your goals?
No matter your approach, there’s a lot to be gained in 2022. Here’s to your real estate success!