As a brand and strategy agency, 1000watt has always done consumer research.
Surveys to get a read on home buyer attitudes; brand awareness studies; website usability testing; focus groups.
Last year, we extended this practice into 1000watt Inside, our private membership community.
We’ve talked to a ton of real estate consumers over the past 12 months.
Here’s one of the things we learned:
People don’t like bullshit or surprises.
I know: duh.
But back at you: if this is so obvious, how come you’re (probably) not on top of it?
Here’s what I mean…
In almost every focus group and survey we conducted last year, people — even those that had a generally positive buying or selling experience — expressed some version of this sentiment: “I wish someone had told me about that before we started.”
Maybe it was the invasive reality of showings. Or the fact that asking price is frequently little more than a twisted joke. Or, for those who chose to sell with an ibuyer, the delta between the “instant” and adjusted offer.
People wanted to know. Up front.
Most of the time, though, they are presented with soft promises of ease. Or, to be more blunt about it, bullshit.
Countless proptech and mortgagetech companies run with some flavor of this promise:
“Real estate (or mortgage) made easy.”
Buying or selling a home, even with innovations like ibuying and cash offer lending, is far from easy. It’s damn complicated.
Did Rocket’s claim of “Push button, get mortgage” a couple years ago move the needle for them? Maybe. Was it bullshit? 100%. I know, because I tried. I pushed the button, hoping for an easy refi, only to find that it was but a veneer laid upon the same old doc and people-heavy process. I bailed, and to this day, still get texts, voicemails, and snail mail from Rocket. I half expect that soon, LOs will rappel down onto my roof from a Rocket chopper hovering overhead.
The new ways of buying and selling may in fact be faster, or relatively less disruptive to one’s life, but it’s still intrinsically hard. Brad Inman’s recent piece about his aborted home sale illustrates this beautifully. No amount of cash or tech can eliminate the demands placed upon one’s heart and soul during a real estate transaction.
How often do agents, not wanting to spook a prospect, avoid proactive discussions about thorny topics? From what we hear, a lot. Over 10% of recent buyers in one of our recent surveys had “no idea” how their buyer’s agent got paid.
For both the billion-dollar online brand and the agent in the living room, the hypothesis seems to be that truth harms conversion.
But what if that’s simply not true?
What if people actually move toward candor, appreciate knowing what might present them with difficulty, embrace those who tell it to them straight?
For the most part, we don’t know. Because we haven’t tried.
Based on what we’re hearing from consumers, it may be time to.
“Real estate is hard, but we are uniquely prepared to help you get it right — here’s how”
“Real estate made easy.”
Brands, like relationships, can often be most meaningfully built within moments of unguarded honesty.
The truth may set you free, and convert your leads.
Have a nice weekend.