How to Handle Homebuyers in a Post-Financial Crisis World

It is no longer news to hear that since the Financial Crisis many things have changed, and countless people have had to cope with a drastically negative transformation in their financial lives.  What is coming as news are the lasting effects the Crisis is having on consumer behavior.  Absolute Strategy Research’s (“ASR”) recent consumer survey brings results from the past three years on U.S. Household Finances showing a definitive change in consumer attitudes towards debt.  Two out of every three Americans questioned believe that the Financial Crisis has fundamentally changed their attitude towards debt, and almost half those polled are not prepared to take any risk with their savings.  There is a serious collapse in consumer confidence due to negative wealth effects; 27% of Americans believe their homes are worth less than what they owe on their mortgage.

What Consumers Need Now

With these statistics it is clear to see that consumers aren’t confident that housing is a good investment at the present time.  The group reporting a change in attitude towards debt in the study tends to be much more hesitant to take financial risk; only 24% are prepared to take risks with their savings.  With these results, we should expect many more buyers to focus on whether or not the decision to buy a home or invest in real estate makes financial sense.  What consumers need now is a higher sense of security; they need to know that the decision they are making is a good investment with low risk factors in the long-term.  They need information about the long-term effects that buying a home will have on their finances.

How Real Estate Agents Can Help

 

Real estate agents can’t expect to continue their practices without responding in some way to these changes in consumer attitudes.  Consumer hesitancy poses real estate agents with a new challenge and an opportunity, the opportunity to be integral in forming a response to consumer apprehension by helping to ease hesitancy when it comes to making investments in real estate.  The role of the real estate agent can be first to inform clients in an open and honest way about what the process of buying a home entails and what options there are available to consumers on the market within their means.  The future of the housing market hinges upon a new investment in communication between agents and consumers.

 

Tools For Change: Confidence Building Calculators

Perhaps the best resources available to help consumers work through their hesitancy are decision-making tools, and fortunately there are a host of these tools and financial calculators online.  While a lot of them begin to address consumer needs, most haven’t changed since the late nineties, and it didn’t take a lot of thought from the SmartAsset  team (www.smartasset.com)to realize that today’s consumer, having grown up with the internet, expects much more.  That is why we have developed a web app that helps consumers to measure affordability, evaluate financing alternatives, and test the cash flow impact for big financial decisions such as buying a home.  With a few pieces of information from a potential home buyer, our tool can help determine how much home a particular consumer can afford and how best to finance it.  It spells out the ramifications of their decision and allows them to see how it will affect their finances over time; we think it is an awesome tool in terms of providing consumers with the information they need when trying to decide if a decision makes financial sense.  If real estate agents can tap into this resource and help consumers through the home buying process with it, we think this can lead to a constructive way of working through consumer hesitancy towards investment in real estate.  There is no reason why real estate agents can’t take part in providing consumers with actionable, objective, personalized, and easy-to-understand advice. Trustworthy information feeds consumer confidence, and everyone has something to gain from this.

This article was written by Michael Carvin the Founder and CEO of Smart Asset.  Check out his site to get a free invite to his software www.smartasset.com

 

    There are 8 responses to this post! Join in...

  1. Mike Payne says:

    SmartAsset deserves a closer look, Michael.

    Your last sentence is a mouthful, also deserving of a closer look: “Trustworthy information feeds consumer confidence, and everyone has something to gain from this.”

    TRUST

    Apparently, the public believes real estate “people” are not very trustworthy…that real estate people believe EVERY DAY is a great day to buy or sell a house….

    …and generate a payday for the real estate person.

    For 16 years, I taught/coached high school kids. I went from the classroom where I was highly respected & considered very trustworthy to real estate.

    I recall people at the time questioning my sanity. One friend actually said what (later I discovered) others were thinking, “Are you serious? You really are going to work with slimeballs!”

    In real estate, our “sphere of influence” (if at all) is built on TRUST.

    With trust, anything is possible. Without trust, all the nifty tech gadgets, shiny sports car & designer clothes simply perpetuate the perception of slimeball.

    Every day is NOT a great day (for all people) to buy or sell a house. Perhaps SmartAsset is a powerful tool to have on hand.

  2. Brandon says:

    Another great reason to research real estate agents’ experience early in the process. The technical advice above is also excellent. Thank you.

  3. Michael says:

    Great comments. Building client relationships on trust is good advice for any industry. We think we, at smartasset.com, can be a valuable part of that process.

  4. Holly says:

    Potential home buyers may adopt a wait and see attitude in today’s economy. It is imperative for the home buyer to have a good working relationship and open communication with their agent.

  5. Oahu says:

    The investment in your home is to have it paid off when you retire. It’s a home, your home not a piggy bank.

    Reality check.

  6. Ricky says:

    Making it more fun and personal is always a great angle. For example, most HD Tour videos these days … suck! Boring! I recently created a movie trailer type of HD Tour for a Realtor. Everyone in our area loved it and got to see how fun he can be. Just a thought. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_1mHYbXPE

  7. Most buyers today are not only starting to look at property as a home but as an investment as well. They want to know the best areas and will not necessarily stretch beyond their means as much as they used to. From a Realtors standpoint you should be able to provide the right information so a buyer can make an informed decision.

  8. Alana H. says:

    Hi there,

    Great article. Checked out the Smart Asset website; I love that the whole process makes it easy for rookie investors to make sound financial decisions when it comes to those big financial decisions.

    Alana

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