Home buyers over 55 are relying on technology to find their home, just like their younger counterparts, and they say internet searches and social media greatly influence their homebuying decisions, according to a new survey conducted by Immersion Active, a marketing solutions agency, of home buyers 55 and older. More baby boomers are turning to social media and community websites in their house hunts.
Eighty-nine percent of the 55-plus consumers surveyed say they intend to purchase a new home in the next five years.
Nearly 70% of respondents said they used online real estate directories for sources of information, with realtor.com®, Zillow, and Redfin among the most popular. Online community directories that target the boomer market, such as Ideal Living and 55Places.com, were also frequently used, according to the survey.
Many surveyed home buyers said they checked communities’ or developers’ social media channels. Social media and community websites allow prospective buyers to get a sense of the community’s lifestyle through photos and videos. Social media allows consumers to see comments and feedback from current residents.
Eighty-eight percent of consumers who used social media used Facebook searches, while 38% used Instagram and 31% used Pinterest.
“Social media has become a leading source of word-of-mouth recommendations,” the survey notes. “It’s where consumers go for recommendations and referrals from friends, and even strangers.”
The 10 highest-rated features on community websites were:
- Downloadable floor plans (52%)
- Interior photos of fully furnished homes (51%)
- Exterior photos of available homes or lots (49%)
- HOA Information (47%)
- Information about amenities (34%)
- Community benefits and amenities (pool, trails, golf, boating, etc.) (32%)
- Photos of community life (26%)
- Local area information (schools, restaurants, shops, etc.) (17%)
- Content on community social lifestyle and activities (14%)
- About the builder (13%)
On the other hand, traditional marketing methods were ranked the least popular by older home buyers. Only 13% of the 55+ home buyers surveyed said they found information through print publication or direct mail, and only 3% reviewed welcome packets or brochures.
“This should be a reality check for community developers and builders who rely heavily on print ads, billboards, and other traditional marketing methods,” says Joe Ford, president and senior digital strategist at Immersion Active. “Internet marketing—including websites and social media—is more vital than ever to 55-plus home buyers as they search for the perfect home. For the best leads, developers and builders need to optimize their online presence and ensure their content depicts what life is like for the consumer if they purchased a home in the community.”
They also need to be readily available to respond to inquiries. However, the survey found that most home buyers don’t expect an answer to their social media or website inquiries immediately, but usually within 24 hours or one business day.