Last year was epic in terms of disruption to most businesses and few industries were as disrupted as the real estate industry. While the disruption was immense, it wasn’t all negative. In fact, real estate is having a banner year in 2021, fueled in part by the way the real estate had to change its marketing game in 2020.
Here are five trends to watch for in 2021 and beyond as the real estate industry burns brightly.
1. Greater online presence and tools
While there were many elements of 2020 that we’d prefer to leave behind, many of the tools redeployed by the real estate industry have helped buyers, sellers, renters and housing providers arm potential buyers with information needed to make faster decisions. These elements likely will live on in 2021 and beyond. Marketers will continue to use live video, virtual staging, drone videos, and 3D walkthroughs and tours into the future, but perhaps at a lower rate.
2. Marketing the experience
More than ever, in 2020, home buyers and renters discovered the importance of home. As a result, forward-thinking real estate marketers are using experience as a differentiator. It’s not enough just to have a beautiful home in a neighborhood with great amenities, like a community pool, anymore. Buyers are looking for entire experiences and how the neighborhood supports their lifestyle. For example, some homebuilders are looking at 55+ communities and asking how a home can help create a legacy. The home now goes beyond simply providing shelter, but also answering the question of what a fulfilled life looks like.
3. Navigating back to “normal”
While real estate marketers upped their game to adapt for 2020, this year, they will ask themselves which of these public relations elements will be necessary for 2021. Increased use of video elements and virtual tours were a necessity in 2020 when the pandemic limited real estate showings. With the 2021 real estate market hot, marketers will ask whether the extra spend will be worthwhile and the marketing practices may swing back to pre-2020 levels. That said, many are expecting the market in many areas to cool in 2022 and 2023, so the lessons learned from 2020 may be reapplied in the future.
4. Speed to market
As 2021 has shifted to a sellers’ market, real estate agents are using all the tools in their toolbox to find houses and get them to market quickly. Don’t be surprised to see more and more houses selling outside the market (or “off-MLS” in the United States). While often ignored in the public relations world, word of mouth is a powerful tool in this real estate market. With houses selling – not just going under contract – in less than 10 days in some parts of the United States, getting houses to market quickly is critically important.
5. David vs. Goliath (or average homebuyers vs. institutional buyers)
One narrative that those in the real estate industry should watch is criticism from average homebuyers that they are competing with investors (and more often than not losing). While the term investor can mean many different things, institutional investors, such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and insurance companies, are composing a greater share of buyers. This could fuel class warfare arguments as average homebuyers are outbid by investors. Investors should prepare to manage and to address this issue in the public square.
While 2021 may be a banner year for real estate, future years aren’t as certain. Lack of supply as well as possible rising interest rates could change the real estate public relations paradigm again. When the pendulum swings back to a buyers’ advantage, and it will at some point, real estate public relations professionals should look at the lessons and tools from 2020 to differentiate their properties.