For marketers, the path to success is paved with confident responses to three questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What does your audience need /want?
- How does your product meet that need/want?
The same holds true for real estate professionals. A keen understanding of different buyer groups’ unique preferences can help you advertise and show properties more effectively. As you become more strategic in targeting specific demographic groups, though, remember to filter marketing efforts through the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act and Real Estate Marketing
Officially known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act “prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status.” In addition, certain types of properties and loans are subject to HUD’s Equal Access Rule. This rule disallows discrimination based on a person’s “actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”
Although the majority of Realtors strongly support it, the Fair Housing Act, does impact day-to-day work. Title VIII includes several pages of requirements and restrictions regarding real estate advertising. In simple terms, the law prohibits giving people the impression that you’re targeting a particular group of people to the exclusion of any other group.
Demographics vs. Psychographics
That doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to target audiences at all. It simply means you should exercise caution. One way to avoid legal pitfalls is to craft listings around psychographics rather than demographics.
Demographics give data about a group of people (things like age, ethnicity, gender, and marital status). Psychographics give insight into those people (things like their values and goals, how they spend their time, and what they find meaningful). When crafting listings from a psychographic perspective, you’ll naturally avoid red-flag phrases like, “perfect for families” or “great neighborhood for retirees.”
So what does psychographic-based marketing look like? Let’s take a quick look at four common segments:
How To (Legally) Market to Millennials
Millennials, currently age 36 and younger, are now purchasing more homes than any other demographic group, and 66% of them are first-time buyers. Millennials crave accurate information, so marketing yourself as an expert in the home-buying process—the exact help they need—will help gain their business. But how do you reach them to even initiate those conversations? Think about their habits: Millennials spend a lot of time online. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and you’re spending plenty of time engaging on social media. For more insight on this target group, check out the National Association of Realtors’ Field Guide to Millennial Home Buyers.
How To (Legally) Market to Young Families
Given the Fair Housing Act, it’s ill-advised to mention nurseries in your marketing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep young families’ needs in mind when looking for properties to show. For example, use “multi-purpose room” instead of “playroom.” Also, think about parents’ priorities, such as their kids’ health and wellbeing, and highlight things like nearby schools and fenced-in yards.
How To (Legally) Market to Military Families
What do all military personnel have in common? They move around. A lot. So, consider their relocation needs when developing a marketing plan for this segment. They need to find a place—quickly—that’s move-in ready and will maintain its value. They’ll also need you to be readily available for showings and to answer questions about the community.
How To (Legally) Market to Empty Nesters/Boomers
The largest demographic in the United States, Boomers represent a broad variety of preferences. On the older end, this segment may prefer in-person over digital communication, but younger Boomers are often just as tech savvy as their kids. And if you think Boomers are looking to downsize, you might be surprised to learn otherwise: While some members of this group are empty nesters, many others are becoming “crowded nesters” with kids and grandkids moving back home.
Digging Deeper: Personas
Client personas can be helpful tools as you develop a psychographic-based marketing strategy for your real estate business. As Placester explains, a persona is a “fictional person you invent to represent a group of customers who all share common traits.” By sampling your former and client base, you can put groups of people into “buckets” or “segments” based on shared characteristics. Then, you can begin to drill down on what their real estate needs could be.
Of course, every homebuyer and seller is different. While generalizations can be useful to a certain degree, nothing beats listening to clients and understanding your community. Interested in joining a team that provides the highest level of honesty and expertise at every stage of the Real Estate process? We’d love to talk with you!