Focus groups are so critical. Even informal, unscientific ones are better than nothing. They always reveal hidden gems.
Last night I found myself in the company of a dozen 27-31 years olds. None owned a home. When asked what I do, I explained the mechanics of a consulting company and its role in real estate. The conversation meandered, but soon my instinct to mine kicked in.
I learned some interesting things from this group:
- Predictably, all would turn to the Web as the first step in searching for a home.
- None would visit agent websites in this process. Each felt that by going there they would somehow be sucked into a sales cycle.
- The consensus was that all agents are alike and only care about the sale.
- When asked why, most said they don’t have a concrete reason. Others stated they have heard others say this. But none had their own experience to draw from.
- They would never, under any circumstances, fill out a form on a real estate agent or broker site that required them to cough up their contact information.
- If they were interested in a home they would call the company powering whatever site they were on to find out about it.
- When asked how long they would be willing to wait for a call back, the average, surprisingly, was around 24 hours.
- I asked them how they go about choosing a Realtor. None said by their website. One person, a 29 year-old law school graduate said, “I’d walk into the closest Century 21 office and pick the first 40 to 50 year-old woman I could find.” One by one, each of the individuals agreed. Especially on Century 21. When asked why, several said “it’s the brand I grew up with”. It’s the one they know. The only other brand that received acknowledgment was RE/MAX. I rattled off a few others and most to all went completely unrecognized.