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Five trends that are reshaping real estate marketing

Real estate has often lagged behind other industries when it comes to marketing techniques. Yet shifting demographics and consumer behaviors are compelling the industry to propel itself forward in intriguing new ways.

Here are five trends that are transforming real estate marketing.

1. Corporate relocation. Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Top Cities to Earn the Most,” Boston is a popular city for relocating professionals. It’s also one of the top three most desirable U.S. cities for foreign real estate investors, according to the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate. With so many home buyers coming to the Greater Boston area from around the world, real estate agents are focusing more on global marketing efforts.

This may involve building relationships with colleagues around the world through LinkedIn and online corporate networks, as well as promoting homes through major microblogs like “Great Homes and Destinations” that are read by home buyers worldwide.

2. Shifting buying behavior. Facebook isn’t just for connecting with friends. Increasingly, social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs impact the way consumers are making buying decisions. In a recent survey of more than 27,000 Internet users, the Nielsen Company discovered that nearly 50 percent of consumers rely on user-generated content (sites like Yelp, Facebook, and others) to help make purchasing decisions. Instead of just reaching out to a few close friends and family to ask their opinions about a home or community, home buyers are apt to ask for input from their social network or from an even wider sphere (i.e., posting a question on sites like theNest.com or researching communities through GreatSchools.org.)

Additionally, when people share a home listing by “liking” it on Facebook or retweeting it on Twitter, this helps increase exposure of the home in a number of ways. First, the home is seen by that person’s entire network of friends, family, and colleagues. Second, home listings that are shared through social media tend to rank better on search engine results than ones that don’t. For example, if someone searches online for the term “new homes for sale in Holliston,” some of the first homes that show up in the search results are likely to be ones that have been recommended by people through social media sites.

That’s one reason why it’s important for real estate agents to leverage social media channels when marketing homes.

3. Mobile Internet. With a vast number of Internet searches now being done from mobile devices, real estate agents need to optimize their home listings to display well across a wide array of devices. For example, iPhones and iPads are dominating the mobile market, yet some popular video formats can’t be displayed on these devices. It’s important that property videos and other interactive content are accessible across all popular mobile platforms.

4. Consumer expectations. Having grown up amidst unprecedented technological changes, Generation Xers have very different expectations when it comes to house hunting. Demographers note that this generation craves instant gratification and sophisticated online interactions. That’s why real estate agents are looking for new ways to engage these home buyers.

For example, home buyers can use free mobile applications to get information about a house they’re driving by and click a button to connect with the listing agent immediately. In some cases, they can scan a QR code (a “Quick Response” barcode that can be scanned from their mobile device) on a lawn sign or property ad and instantly launch a video of the home.

5. Workplace flexibility. Forrester Research recently reported that approximately 34 million Americans telecommuteat least part-time, giving them tremendous flexibility in choosing where to live. When I work with new home buyers it’s not uncommon for them to search across a wide number of towns in the MetroWest and beyond.

What this means for home sellers is that if they’re listing a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath colonial home in Weston, for example, potentially buyers are usually not just comparing it against similar homes in Weston but homes in many other communities as well. With so many home buyers having geographic flexibility, real estate agents need to do more than sell the features of a home. They’re beginning to use full-motion video and other means to market the best attributes of the community.

Have a real estate question? Contact Leslie Mann and she'd be glad to answer your confidential questions. Mann is a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Weston, MA.