One of the hottest niche markets on the Web is the second home or vacation home buyer. Baby Boomers are opting for second homes in record numbers. Find out how to serve them on the Internet until they’re ready to buy.
The Time Line of an Internet Vacation or Second Home Buyer is Different
The Internet has brought about a great deal of change in real estate marketing. One thing that is overlooked by many is also quite important. Internet buyers start researching earlier and do it for longer before they are ready to purchase. This is particularly true for vacation or second home buyers. The typical Baby Boomer looking for that special retirement home, or for a vacation home for a getaway, begins their dreaming early. They enjoy the anonymity of the Web, and the ability to do extensive research without sales pressure. Many start years before their anticipated purchase. Far from a negative thing, those agents and brokers who recognize this buyer’s needs will profit handsomely down the road.
One reason these real estate browsers avoid direct contact is their aversion to sales pressure of any kind when they are a long way from a deal. Some also actually care about using your time when they’re not ready to buy. However, we need to get past the anonymity and into some kind of direct communication early. Then we need to maintain that relationship until the time comes for them to buy. There are proven ways of accomplishing these goals. Moreover, the buyers become extremely loyal during the process, never considering another agent when the time comes to purchase. Continue in this series to learn how to capture contact information.
What the Second Home and Vacation Home Buyers Want from Your Website
There are statistics all over the Web that point out the growth in the second home and vacation home markets. Though it helps, you don’t need to serve a resort area for this to be of importance. Baby Boomers are buying second homes for more reasons than vacationing:
- To retire near their children.
- As a vacation home to test an area for retirement.
- To stay in the real estate market until a retirement decision can be made.
None of those items require that the home be in a resort area. So, all agents and brokers should pay attention to what these type of buyers are wanting for information from web sites and blogs. A bullet list of their main information requirements includes (not in any order):
- Statistics on growth and home appreciation.
- Shopping, entertainment and restaurant resources.
- Proximity and quality of medical care.
- Transportation alternatives and traffic information.
- Museums, arts, education, sights and attractions.
- Information on associations, groups, & community activities.
- Government and political links and resources.
- Environmental hazards or positive environmental data.
What you want to accomplish with your web site and/or blog is to provide extensive and useful information to your site visitors. Yes, you want the search engines to get them there, but it won’t help if the information after the click is not what they want. Forget the “real estate” key phrases for this phase of your site planning. Develop informative content that will actually help your site visitor to understand the area and the real estate market there.
What would be the difference in this content plan for a web site or a blog? Though I highly recommend you do both, it is basically what we call “evergreen” or dated content. If the information doesn’t change that often, you can do a good job with a static web page article about a topic. Let’s use government for an example. Talking about the format and divisions of government in the area is likely to remain fresh for long periods, thus a web page item. Commentary on recent developments or political issues would be better served in a blog. Both types of content are highly valuable to your site visitor who is trying to make a purchase decision based on areas and quality of life. You can serve them well with either a site or a blog, but both work best.
The Friendly Way to Capture Contact Information
Once you have vacation and second home buyers visiting your site on a repeat basis, your next task is to get them to give you their contact information so that you can get to the next level. This is critical with this group, as they are usually not in a hurry. You need to initiate and maintain communications in order to be the Realtor ® of choice when they’re ready to buy.
First you need to build trust:
- Trust that they’ll find what they need on your site.
- Trust that the information is current and accurate.
- Trust that you’ll respect their privacy.
- Trust that you’ll provide information without sales pressure.
You don’t build informational trust by being stingy.
Provide lots of free and easily accessible information on your site. There is still room for friendly ways to get their contact information. I provide sold property statistics by area right on the site. However, I’ve developed that information into a report that goes back several years. It’s too big for the site, and they realize that. By offering it as an auto-response email report, I get the majority of my leads. I also offer a report about negotiating in my market. I state that this is information that isn’t appropriate for public display, as my buyers might suffer in their deals. Selecting the report for email delivery is logical to them, and they do so. It may seem silly to some, as anyone can request it, but this does work. And these methods offer something extra for that contact info. They don’t feel compelled to give it for what is considered basic area information. You don’t need that many offerings on your site if they are valuable information. You only need that contact information once. That’s why I deliver a link to all the special reports in one auto-response email. They shouldn’t have to ask more than once, since I’ve achieved my goal with the first request.
Staying “Top of Mind” With Vacation Home Buyers
The successful implementation of a well-designed and content rich site, coupled with effective lead capture, will get you their email address. What you do then is critical. We know their time line is longer than most. We know that we want to be top of their minds when they’re ready. So how do we work with them until they’re ready?
First, we DON’T:
- Pester them with weekly emails about irrelevant topics.
- Call them weekly to see how their purchase plans are going.
- Become “drips” with drip email.
The trust built up to this point is easy to lose. These second home and vacation home buyers will gain trust in you the longer you maintain the right type of communication. What is that? It is regular contact with USEFUL information. It is also fast replies to their requests for information, without attached sales pitches. Drip email is overused and generally garbage. Too many send out purchased or free canned emails in a series. They talk about virtually anything remotely related to real estate in general. However, they almost never serve up information that these prospects want or need. They end up “un-subscribing” and they’re lost. The best thing you can deliver via email to your prospects is a newsletter or blog that brings them fresh, frequently updated, and interesting content that covers information of interest to them. Or better yet, how about a newsletter automatically compiled from your blog?