Below a couple of noteworthy trends affecting the real estate and home improvement franchise industries are summarized:
Use of Technology to Connect With & Serve Real Estate Customers
According to Kathleen Kuhn, president of HouseMaster Home Inspections, “The biggest changes that have occurred in our industry have been [the] result of technology.”
Increased consumer use of technology is revolutionizing the real estate industry. Real estate franchises must adapt by integrating technology with their services to reach potential clients.
Nowadays, over 90% of people are consulting the internet before purchasing real estate. Here are a few facts about online searching for real estate from The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate – A Joint Study from The National Association of Realtors® and Google.
- Real estate related searches on Google grew over 250% in the four-year period from 2008-2012
- 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research
- 39% of senior home buyers begin their research online
- 52% of first-time buyers started their search online
Mobile is an area of special significance with mobile applications being used by 68% of new home shoppers at the onset and throughout their research. Also, Realtor.com divulged that the introduction of mobile apps contributed to a 240% increase in agent phone call leads in a year period between 2010 and 2011.
Heading into the future, virtual tours and high quality videos and pictures will be an important tool for real estate franchisees to remain relevant with consumers. More statistics from the joint study also reveal how consumers are using video during their real estate shopping process.
- 86% use video to find out about a specific community
- 70% use video to tour the inside of a home
- 54% use video to get general information
- 30% use video to watch customer testimonials
- 25% use video to decide which company to purchase from
The integration of technology only begins at marketing and goes on to play a large role in daily business. “Everything is web and mobile based at HouseMaster from delivering important pre-service documentation to our customers to the delivery of our final report,” says Kuhn. “[In addition], technology continues to play a huge role in our marketing campaigns for recruiting quality new franchise owners and in generating inspection leads for franchisees.”
Remaining in Residences & “Aging-in-Place”
Though testing the waters of the housing market and moving to new areas has recently become more common, a significant number of homeowners find living in their homes longer to be a more attractive option than moving. In an interview with Forbes, Indianapolis-based architect Mark Demerly noted an increase in long-term household investment projects. Before the recession, houses were often purchased and fixed up for a two to three year period before homeowners moved on. Demerly says, “Now it’s more like six to 10 years.”
The most popular areas for home improvement projects are the kitchen and bathroom.
Staying in a home longer is often referred to as “aging-in-place” and has become a contributing factor in this shift toward longer term residencies. “Baby boomers are now becoming the seniors of tomorrow and they still want to live in their homes,” says House Doctors president and CEO Jim Hunter. “Aging in place modifications that allow them to live longer at home are the fastest growing part of the remodeling industry today.”
According to an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) study, the most popular modifications are:
- Adding additional lighting in hallways and stairs
- Living quarters on the main floor; bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, laundry
- Replacing knobs with levers on doors and faucets
- Adding handrails/grab bars
The growth of aging-in-place modifications has become so large that the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has partnered with AARP to develop the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists program to “meet the increasing demand by seniors and baby boomers for barrier-free living environments.”
According to the NAHB, the goal of the CAPS program is “to teach individuals involved in residential design and construction about the requirements of older adults who are balancing current and future needs for autonomy and independence with equal desires for safety and security.”