National Association of Realtors (NAR) is one of the most respected, influential, and valuable real estate organizations. They are constantly probing the market, researching, discovering, and uncovering market trends that would otherwise go unnoticed.

If you’re a real estate agent you’re probably aware of this. But are you putting the data they come up with to good use? 

In this post, we look at how to use NAR research to broaden the reach of your real estate marketing and sell homes faster. 

Amongst the multitude of NAR research, there is perhaps no document more valuable to the agent than their annual Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. Applied correctly, this report is a blueprint for real estate success. 

NAR Report Jam-Packed With Valuable Info

Every year, it arrives packed with the exact sort of information that real estate agents need to function at the top of their game. The report identifies: 

  • Who’s buying the most real estate (by demographic - age, marital status, race, even sexual orientation)
  • How people are searching for and finding the homes they purchase
  • Which marketing features are most valuable to property buyers
  • Which sort of homes are purchased by which demographic
  • Which sort of devices/computers people most use to search for homes
  • Most valued characteristics of real estate agents amongst buyers and sellers
  • Who (by demographic) is selling the most homes
  • How sellers were most likely to select a real estate agent

These are just a few of the crucial pieces of information that NAR’s Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report makes available on an annual basis.  

Included in the above list are probably the three most important things any real estate agent needs to know at any given time: Who’s buying, who’s selling, and how to market a property so that it sells. 

Perhaps the report’s greatest and most obvious benefit to the real estate agent can be found in the section entitled “Value of Website Features,” which essentially ranks the elements of marketing that best sell homes.  In this section, buyers are surveyed as to the aspects of online marketing that attracted their attention the most. 

The Photograph Remains The Most Powerful Real Estate Marketing Tool Day to Dusk Hero Image
As NAR’s Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report has established every year since its inception, a breathtaking image is your best chance of catching a buyer’s attention. Our Day to Dusk edit is designed to turn any image into a spectacular one and is the best way for a listing to stand out from the other listings on an MLS site.

Every year, since the survey began in 2013, the highest percentage of buyers has ranked photos as “very useful”. 

Interestingly enough, in 2013, 84% of buyers ranked photos as “very useful”. Despite many marketing evolutions and shuffling of buyer preferences since then, photos have remained the top-ranking item on this list. In 2022, even the percentage remained the same - 84% of buyers still depend on photos when deciding whether to purchase a property.  

Call it a “thumb stopper”, call it “an eye-popper”, call it a Hero Image - the best way to spark that initial interest in a property is to have at least one extraordinary image that stands out from the other listings on either side of it. 

This is why our Image Enhancement services produce such enthusiastic responses online. As you can see the Before and After sequence in the images above, our Day to Dusk edit magically transforms any image to bring out the most enchanting features of a home. 

The huge preference buyers have for photos, which the NAR report confirms, gives agents a good idea as where to concentrate their marketing might.

This is but one great reason to consult the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. Marketing is the cornerstone of any successful real estate career, and any report that reveals what clicks (and what doesn't) with buyers on an annual basis is a valuable ally to any real estate agent - especially during this market slowdown, which now almost certainly is upon us.

2017: The Unrivalled Rise Of The Floor Plan Virtual Tours sight unseen purchases
Our Floor Plan redraw service can literally turn a sketch upon a napkin into an eye-catching 3D Floor Plan. One thing NAR research confirms every year is that Floor Plans are immensely influential in the property search of most buyers.

The poor Floor Plan! It is the most overlooked and underappreciated marketing tool in the business. Our Listings Analysis from last year determined that only 16% of real estate listings in the US offered one, yet buyers love listings that include a Floor Plan

For the first four years of the NAR Home Buyers and Seller’s Generational Trends report, the floor plan wasn’t even on the list of most useful website features. 

But as more agents began to realize that Floor Plans were a fantastic way to achieve buyer engagement, more began to be posted alongside images on MLS sites. 

The first year Floor Plans earned a spot on the survey, they ranked third behind photos and detailed information about listings (aka copy) as the marketing tool that was useful to the most buyers. 

The "dollhouse", as it is known in the real estate business, continues to hold the bronze medal position in 2022. Now 55% of buyers rank Floor Plans as very useful to their property search.   

This is another huge advantage that paying attention to the NAR report can bring to a real estate agent. And the NAR report is not the only report that reveals how Floor Plans can sell a home faster.

There are too many reasons to list in this article but if you want to know all about the mighty, unsung Floor Plan check out our post “5 Reasons Why A Floor Plan Can Help Sell Your Listing Faster.”  

Floor plans are fast, easy, and effective. They also come in 3D versions that can be linked to a 360° Virtual Tour.  

The Virtual Tour: A Top 5 Marketing Tool Since 2015 Virtual Tour
A 360-degree camera and a monopod are all that is required to shoot a high-quality virtual tour. Here our co-founder Brad Filliponi sets up the Ricoh Theta Z1 for a tutorial he gave demonstrating how easy it is to capture stunning images with this device.

Is it a coincidence that the year was created, was the same year that Virtual Tours began their inclusion on the “Value of Website Features” survey list? Before 2015, this category was known as "Video Virtual Tours," but as technology advanced, the 360° Virtual Tour became a much different entity than a simple video walkthrough of a listing. 

Since 2015, the 360° Virtual Tour has ranked in the top five most useful website features for property buyers. Though its popularity has held steady, the value of video to property buyers has declined over the years. This year only 28% of buyers found video to be a useful website feature compared to 43% for Virtual Tours. 

The self-directed, interactive and immersive nature of the 360° Virtual Tour are no doubt contributing factors to buyers' preference for virtual over video tours. But there's another reason why the demand for this virtual property marketing feature is on the rise. And that reason is the subject of our next category: The Millennials. 

Look Who's Buying! Follow The Money, You'll Find The Millennials

If you are an agent or an agency who is trying to determine your marketing approach, one of the first things you must know is who is buying the most property. Why? Because between Gen Xers and the Silent Generation there are vast differences in the sort of marketing they respond to. 

The first priority of any marketing plan for real estate should be to establish who is buying the most property, then establish the forms of marketing to appeal to this demographic. In the United States for the past five years, the biggest group of real estate purchasers has been Millennials. 

Looking at the NAR survey, it's clear that Millennials (ages 23 to 41) spend significantly more time searching for property on their mobile devices than on desktop or laptop computers. This is an important clue that should inform your marketing approach. 

When the largest group of property buyers are searching for property on their smartphones, it means, for one, that any web page you publish needs to be mobile-responsive. Millennials are notoriously intolerant of any sort of business that doesn't meet them on their own technological ground. Uber, Tinder, Door Dash, and online gaming and gambling sites have all had to get mobile to survive. The same applies to real estate. 

This is also why Virtual Tours are more essential than ever before. Millennials expect them. If you don't offer one with your listing don't expect Millennials to drum up the motivation to contact you for a walkthrough.

New evidence suggests that 54% of property shoppers skip over listings of properties that don’t include Virtual Tours. When you factor into this statistic that Millennials made up 43% of all property buyers over the past calendar year, you can be certain that a great deal of those "listing skippers" came from this demographic. 

Looking For Listings? The “Young Seniors” (aka Baby Boomers) Are Selling

If Millennials made up 43% of property buyers last year, the Baby Boomers made up almost the same percentage of property sellers. 

Across all categories, referrals were the most common method to find a real estate agent - the second being that the seller had used the same agent in a previous transaction.

One interesting statistic the survey revealed about social media was that it might not be the powerful lead generator it is often touted as. Only 2% of property sellers reported that they found their agent through social media, and no Baby Boomers reported going this route in their quest to find someone to sell their home. 

If this information gives any indication about how to prospect for listings, it seems to suggest that your time might be better spent actively seeking referrals from previous clients than devoting countless hours to your social media profiles.

Another interesting feature of the report is that Baby Boomers (aged 57 to 75) and the "Silent Generation" (aged 76 to 96) were the only two demographics who ranked marketing prowess as the most important service that an agent could provide.

This is another vital clue as to how to tailor your listing presentation toward these older sellers. Show them how you will market their home! Point out the NAR research and show how your marketing plan will respond to its recommendations! 

If the largest group of buyers (Millennials) primarily use their smartphones and tend to skip over listings that don't include a Virtual Tour, then marketing that connects with this demographic must be mobile-friendly and needs to include a Virtual Tour.

In the case of this NAR report, the numbers don't lie.

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