Understanding the buyer journey
Whether they’re purchasing a cup of coffee or a single-family home, buyers follow a predictable set of stages as they go through the process of their purchase. Understanding how the buyer journey applies to real estate can help you to assist a client, depending on what stage they’re at. Here are the four stages of the buyer journey and how you can tailor your approach at each stage to help build a solid relationship with your client.
At this stage, a client is just beginning to consider the need for purchasing a home. Entering this stage is often prompted by another life event such as a marriage, pregnancy, divorce or retirement. Clients may be considering the type of home they might want to buy or where they might want to live. Homebuyers at this stage have often not found a realtor yet. So it’s a great time to reach out, but agents should also be conscious of adopting a low-pressure approach. Let them know you’re available for questions but don’t force them to make any decisions.
Once a homebuyer hits the research phase, they’ll begin narrowing in their search and begin to consider elements like affordability, likes and dislikes and ideal neighbourhoods. They will begin to browse listings online and perhaps attend a few open houses but they’re not quite ready to buy. The research phase can often be the longest. At this stage buyers will also start reaching out to real estate agents they might want to work with. If agents are in contact with buyers in the research phase, you can send them links to resources that will help establish trust. These may include neighbourhood profiles, market reports and recently sold listings.
In the consideration stage, buyers will be ready to start viewing homes. If they haven’t already, they will be selecting a real estate agent to work with. By this stage, clients will have narrowed down their search and will be aware of how much they can afford and where they will want to live. Agents can continue to support clients at this stage by connecting them to trusted partners like a mortgage broker or renovation contractor. This is also the stage during which agents might “lose” a potential client so it’s important to respond to communications promptly.
Once the buyer has found their perfect home, the agent will continue to support them by offering guidance and advice. The negotiation of a home purchase can take two or more weeks, so the real estate agent has an important role to play here. At this stage, the agent may have won this client’s business this time. But the goal should be to provide exceptional, timely service so that the client is compelled to refer their friends and return for repeat business when they are ready to buy or sell again.