Does DIY Apply to Buying a House? Young People Might Think So


One of the side effects of digital communication is it can make people slow to get out from behind their screens to talk to someone face-to-face. Maybe you’ve noticed it with people you know, particularly young people who’ve grown up with technology. VRE 40 stillResearch conducted for NAR last year found that young people experience a high level of anxiety when it comes time to move from online home shopping to talking to a real estate professional. As long as they’re gathering information on their phone, tablet, or laptop, they’re fine. But as soon as they want to talk to someone in the business, they find themselves outside of their comfort zone. That’s an interesting finding from a sociological standpoint, but from a business standout, it’s a problem.
That’s why NAR did something different this year with its national ad campaign. Instead of focusing on the benefits of home ownership or why now is a good time to buy, it focused on this tension-point for young people. It did this in two ways: First, it designed content that speaks directly to people who are comfortable gathering information online but less so picking up the phone. Second, it designed a digital-first strategy for placing ads. That means focusing on what people see on their phones, tablets, and laptop and putting less emphasis on what they see on their TVs. Traditional media like TV, radio, and print remain important, but because young people live their lives online, the campaign places a new emphasis on the digital side.
NAR’s ideas behind the ad campaign are explored in The Voice for Real Estate, NAR’s news video. The video also looks at an effort that is gaining ground to let veterans using federally backed, zero-down financing buy their house without having to worry about loan caps. Right now, VA loans are capped based on market area. That makes it hard for veterans to buy a house that costs more than $417,000. That amount goes far in many markets but there are also markets where that doesn’t even reach the median home price. In good news, the House passed a bill that would eliminate loan caps for VA loans. That’s a move NAR supports, and now the Senate needs to act on it. NAR played a role in getting the House to pass the bill. A REALTOR® from the Orlando area in Florida recommended changes to the loan caps in testimony before a VA subcommittee, and lawmakers heard the recommendations loud and clear.
The video also looks at an interesting development in commercial real estate finance. Real estate professionals say loans for most property types in most markets remain very difficult to get. The only real bright spots are multifamily loans, which benefit from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees. But office, industrial, and retail loans remain a tough sell, especially in secondary and tertiary markets. And yet some federal regulators are saying commercial lending is getting too loose. It’s a disconnect that NAR is watching closely, and the video reports on that as well.
Zach's take: Ouch, NAR!  Young people?  Not my preferred choice of terms, too close to "youngin'".  Makes me feel like this also needs a "whippersnapper".  And a complimentary cane or walker for my reading time. And while I'm decidedly middle-aged now, I certainly prefer the efficiency and inherent anonymity associated with a mostly digital interaction. In short, if I'm calling you, I've probably read a few articles and watched a YouTube video or 10. Ease of research is key, and when I do need to talk to someone, I want / need an accurate and quick answer. I don't want to set an appointment next Tuesday at 10.  I simply want to know if I can use my VA Loan again (that's a "Yes").  And I want the answer ASAP. I understand the necessity of assessing & addressing a customer's current understanding and buying level, but that should never translate into a hard sell or shady tactics. I'm a consumer too, and I make a conscious effort to treat my customers the way I prefer to be treated. I still haven't created a SnapChat account, though...   [signoff]