The real estate market has long been viewed as an economic indicator that signals the long-term health of an area. The market has been very volatile lately because of local financial issues and uncertainties about the global economy. This has combined with other developments and changing consumer demographics to create a very different industry than what was present a few decades ago. The changes are not consistent in all areas and are regional although a few trends are affecting how business is done everywhere on a daily basis.
The expectations of consumers have changed dramatically over the last decade. The presence of the Internet and the massive shifts in other industries has created consumers in the housing market who are demanding deals and discounts on property. Consumers are starting to perform personal research without ever contacting an agent or having any experience within the industry. This sometimes results in false perceptions about the price of a home because of a single short sell in the area. Most consumers still seek out an agent when it comes time to close a deal although the perceived role of the agent is now different and relationships can become harder to form.
Technologies like the Internet, social media and mobile devices have had a large impact on the real estate industry. People who are in the market for a property can now view listings, details and other data online without consulting an agent. Some regular buyers are even able to browse certain multiple listing services. Technology has made finding homes and comparing properties much easier for consumers. Some aggressive sellers provide virtual tours and other data directly on a website. Social media is changing how some agents operate. Social media is slowly becoming the preferred method of contact for certain people. This means an agent is more likely to establish a relationship with a buyer through text messages, emails and social media postings than through traditional phone calls and live meetings. The newest applications for mobile devices are allowing buyers to tour entire neighborhoods without assistance from a broker or agent.
A noticeable change in many markets is the move towards long-term investments in property. More people are starting to rent instead of own. This has caused buyers to gravitate towards properties that are easily converted into rental units and that will garner profits over the course of several years. Many regional markets have seen a steep decline in the number of people who are buying homes with the hope of quickly flipping the property. Long-term investors are also starting to look more closely at buying into condominium complexes and other communities that contain new construction.
Real estate agents have had to change with the volatile markets, shifting consumer base and new technologies. Agents must mow actively reach out to potential consumers. The value of an agent has been depreciated slightly because of the amount of information that can be found online. The reality is that agents are still a vital component of the market. Agents are starting to increase personal value to customers by acting more like consultants than someone who is simply selling a property.
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