home buying data

How Access to the Right Data Can Change the Home Buying Process

How often can real estate agents identify the top five factors homebuyers are looking for in their search? If we are being honest, it is probably a low percentage. But this isn’t necessarily the agent’s fault. People have a hard time predicting what they want, so they might be focusing on the wrong factors. While the homebuyer might be saying, “I really need to focus on price, number of bedrooms and the local school district,” her gut tells her something different when she sees her ideal house happens to also be on the border of a fairly high crime area. Buying a home is one of the most important decisions an individual will make in his or her lifetime. It is also an incredibly complex decision and requires a mixture of quantitative as well as qualitative information to get a homebuyer to say (and feel), “This is the home for me!” So, how can real estate professionals prepare to provide a more data-enhanced buying experience that allows the homebuyer to have the right conversations about their purchase decision throughout the buying process?

First, it is important to understand the customer expectation and what is driving it.

With the proliferation of Google search, smart home devices and an increase in synergies between online platforms, buyers are used to having unlimited access to the information they need, when they need it. Purchasing a home is no different. Agents need to be able to provide an extensive range of property or neighborhood data to the clients for them to feel satisfied. But, it is also the agent’s job to provide the right mixture of data at the right time in the buying process so, they can prevent the analysis paralysis that many buyers get when confronted with every possible data point and concentrate on what matters.

Why would a buyer value an agent sharing property data that can be easily displayed with a few clicks in an online report?

The landscape that has led to these new customer expectations is also part contributor to the fact that the role of a listing agent has shifted. They are no longer seen as primary sources of data and instead have taken on more of an advisory role according to a recent Forbes article titled Are Real Estate Agents Still Relevant in the Age of Tech? Why would a buyer value an agent sharing property data that can be easily displayed with a few clicks in an online report? Instead, real estate professionals will need to focus on providing information beyond real estate and property record data.

A combination of real estate data, property, demographic and geographic data are the factors that influence a homebuyer’s decision making. But so often only a portion of these data sets is accessible to the buyer from the beginning of the buying process, potentially leading them in an ill-informed direction. When looking at creating a more technologically savvy industry, a strong step forward will be providing access to the data that gives buyers more of the facts up front, so they can focus on what feels right. This is where real estate agents will need to focus, giving buyers advice based on factors outside of the basic property metrics like neighborhood character, local economic trends and nearby amenities.

Unfortunately, demographic and geographic data are categories known for having spotty coverage across the internet and provide key components to understanding a neighborhood, such as crime rate, local school districts and tax codes. This leads to many key home-buying factors not being provided to the buyer, though the data does exist. A recent Washington Post article points out, “Buyers should focus on things they can’t change such as a location in a flood zone.” There are many more factors that make up a community that are important for homebuyers, some more than others. The more data, from property to demographic to geographic, that can be provided, the better–for both homebuyers and their real estate advisors.

Agents are in the middle of a dynamic shift in the way customers expect to experience buying a home and the technologies that help them in the process. With real estate technology rapidly developing, as can be seen by big brokerages like Colliers partnering with Techstars in a PropTech accelerator program. There are tons of opportunities for real estate professionals to level-up their businesses by embracing technology. Many of these technologies, however, are the front-end applications that cater to the user’s experience, leaving the actual data that is being provided to agents and brokers noticeably lacking. That is why we have worked so hard at Estated to provide the data backbone that other applications can run on. We believe that more transparent, easily accessible data will help everyone make better property decisions. This will, in turn, lead to a more efficient market because there will be less uninformed purchases and fraudulent sales tactics. When you think about the fact that housing is by far the biggest expense for the average American household I think that you could make the case that giving homebuyers more access to information is not just important for the real estate industry, but is a public good as well.

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