WAV Group and other consumer research have consistently shown that buyers want neighborhood expertise above all else. It’s more important to consumers than an agent’s ability to negotiate or communicate. It’s often even more important to consumers than trust. So you would think that the most common agent business model would be designed to exploit that opportunity, right? But you would be wrong.
Yet if you ask agents, they will tell you they indeed have deep local expertise – often they see themselves as being the “top” local expert. But if you look at what they do in their day-to-day business, they certainly don’t market their business or themselves that way.
That’s some of the findings of the first-ever Hyperlocal real estate study WAV Group recently conducted for Colorado based technology firm, zavvie. The headline for the survey could very well read: “Agents, teams and brokers say one thing, do another.”
Importance of HyperLocalism
WAV Group found that a stunning 95% of agents, teams and broker-owners and real estate exes say local market knowledge is either “Very Important” or “Extremely Important” to their consumer clients. Two-in-three say it is “Extremely Important.”
Hornung, CEO and Co-founder of zavvie, points out that real estate pros by and large are just are not making HyperLocal marketing a priority, despite all the research that shows how important it is to the consumers.
Hornung explains that HyperLocal agents and teams focus their marketing activities specifically on a neighborhood or group of neighborhoods, which Hornung says is generally 3,000 homes or about 10,000 people. But only about 1 in 8 agents actually say they specialize in neighborhoods.
“In fact, the study found that most real estate professionals are doing the exact opposite of HyperLocal marketing: they are casting the largest net, trying to throw draw their marketing circle as broad as possible,” Hornung points out.
Not Really Local
The study found that more than 60% of individual agents and 65% of teams say they “specialize” in a large regional or metro area. That’s like saying you “specialize” in collecting transportation or cars, versus rare Ferraris.
“You can’t even specialize in a city or a town – its just too big of an area, geographically to be a ‘go-to expert’ that knows every single home in that size of a market. Yet that’s what folks were claiming,” says Stefan Peterson, COO of zavvie.
There really is “a great disconnect” going on between the views of agents, teams and brokerages and their behavior. Another example: very few agents and teams report using HyperLocal marketing tools that let them share their expertise, such as “Nextdoor,” a “Blog” or a “Neighborhood Website.” “Yet these are the core tools of a typical HyperLocal agent’s marketing system,” Peterson argues, but the survey found only 7% have a Blog, only 15% have a Neighborhood Website, and fewer than one in five – just 17% – are on Nextdoor.
Ask these same agents about their knowledge level about local happenings, events, and changes that affect the real estate market and more than a third — 38% of all respondents — said they were “Extremely Knowledgeable” which means they agreed with the description that read: “No one is more ‘in the know’ than I am.” Moreover, 42% said they were “Very Knowledgeable.”
Peterson is perplexed. “If all of these agents, teams and brokerages have all this local knowledge, how is anyone going to know it if they are not sharing it in a Blog or on Nextdoor?,” he asks
HyperLocal Highly Valued
And it’s not like agents, teams and broker-owners and execs don’t themselves recognize how valuable HyperLocal is.
When asked about the value of local customer reviews from sites such as Zillow, Yelp, Nextdoor and Google, more than 60% said reviews on these sites were “Very Important” or “Extremely Important.” Moreover, 73% said Facebook is their number one marketing tool they use to connect with customers in their local farm area.
So that sounds promising, right? Well, believe it or not, some 44% of agents and half of all teams said that social media is only “Somewhat Important” or “Not Important” to their business. Let me say that again: Half the teams said social media was not important to their business. Really? Wow.
The study also found that of all the top marketing tools, two social media tools landed in the bottom five marketing tools that agents use to connect with customers in their local farm area. Instagram was selected by only about 1 in 10 and Twitter was selected by only about 1 in 20.
Why no HyperLocal hysteria?
zavvie founders think the reason real estate agents are not going nuts over HyperLocal Marketing, which has been steamrolling other industries, is that for busy agents, social media and HyperLocal marketing tools and activities such as Neighborhood Websites and Blogs are hard. And they take a lot of time.
However, the research shows that the agents and teams who embrace HyperLocal marketing are more successful than agents who do not. That additional data is coming out soon when zavvie releases a new HyperLocal Marketing White Paper early next year.
On the bright side
One encouraging note from the survey: the overall positive response to interest in a question we asked about how interested folks were in obtaining an automated social media platform focused specifically on the local neighborhoods.
More than two-thirds of respondents expressed some interest or said they are very interested, with an additional 13.5% said they are “extremely interested.”
So it all may come down to how easy it is for agents, teams and brokers to conduct HyperLocal marketing. If there was an “easy button,” they might be more inclined to push it.
You can review more highlights from the survey at http://www.zavvie.com/hyperlocalsurveyhighlights.