Last week, I attended the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association’s Trends 2011 breakfast seminar.
Led by a panel of industry experts’ David Allison, principle of Braun/Allison Inc (and full disclosure here, my boss), Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics and Cameron Muir, chief economist for the BC Real Estate Association’ the aim of the breakfast was to give all of us in the real estate industry a nudge and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to rethink our corporate strategies.’ We’ve been through a tumultuous couple of years, and it looks like better times are ahead, but it’s never going to be like it was.
As a relative newbie to the real estate industry world, there was a fair chunk of information to absorb. The key takeaways are what follow.
David Allison spoke to the effect the recession has had on the way we communicate at a macro level:
1) Sell the Truth ‘Consumers are looking for real, truthful information and lots of it. If you don’t provide your customers with information and stories, someone else will.
2) A Stadium of Fans ‘There has been a major power shift in the last couple of years. With the Internet and the introduction of various social media platforms, everyone has the same opportunity to share their story.
3) Replace the Sales Funnel with a Hose ‘Now that everyone has the ability to fill the airways with their stories and pitches, we need to start narrowing down whom we share our stories with. ‘Rich boomers’ isn’t going to cut it any more; single, female, first-time homebuyer between the age of 25 and 35 who is a vegetarian, loves dogs, walks to work and is looking to be able to save some money so she can still travel, does. Target the right people with the right messages and you will find more prequalified buyers.
4) Something Old. Something New ‘More and more people are gathering their information from the Web, but awareness still comes from print ads and billboards. Traditional media is often the trigger for a Google search.
5) Social Media – It’s time to be a part of it. Those who choose to ignore it will be left behind. Just remember the Golden Rule: Social media is about being social.
Michael Ferreira identified six key trends for 2011, the following three are relevant to the cross-Canada market:
1) Buyer Profiles – A lot of what we have seen this year will continue in 2011. Restart buyers, mature singles (particularly females), active empty nesters and ethnic buyers, especially immigrants from Mainland China, will be in the market. Michael also predicted the first-time homebuyer will be back. Their ‘hot buttons’ will be price point, deposit schedule and mom & dad.
2) Modest Finishing Specs – We’ve spoiled buyers into thinking that the things they would like to have are the things they need. It’s time to be realistic and think about what finishings will result in the most money.
3) The Green Dream – Everyone likes the idea of being green, but not everyone is going to pay for it. This is something thatï¿½s going to take a while to figure out, and will continue to be a concern in 2011.
Cameron Muir pointed out that we are in the midst of very tepid economic growth right now. And although things are looking up, it will be much more constrained than we thought earlier this year.
1) A slow recovery in the US will limit the growth of our recovery in Canada, but the silver lining in this is that interest rates will be slow to rise.
2) Consumer demand will also be less volatile. We will slowly move out of a buyers’ market toward a sellers’ market, but the gradual change will result in a fairly balanced condition and very little price growth.
3) Confusion around the HST and a decline in unemployment rates coupled with points 1 and 2 above will result in a Snakes & Ladders economic performance into 2011.
4) Ultimately, population and household growth will fuel the housing market in Canada.
One thing was abundantly clear: times are changing rapidly, much more quickly than we may be able to comprehend. I was surprised to see how many people in the audience were not familiar with social media tools. Facebook and Twitter were recognized by name, but how they worked, their functionality and their overall importance in this new media landscape were not recognized. This needs to change.
I have to admit, I am not the most technologically savvy Gen-Yer. But without a doubt, Facebook and Twitter are still a part of my everyday life. I am on one or the other or both every single day. I communicate with my friends, family and colleagues through both of these social media sites; likewise I gather information about social gatherings, current events and world affairs through my relationships and connections on Facebook and Twitter. Are they my only means to access information? Not at all. Are they the quickest and most effective way to reach me? Yes.
So let’s make sure to try and attend more of these kinds of seminars, lunch and learns and conferences. If we want to stay on top of the market, we need to keep educating ourselves. You’ll