Real estate marketers spend countless hours finding new ways to drive traffic to their sites, but too often visitors are ignored and opportunities to win new business are missed.
When it comes to website conversion, live chat is one of the most effective marketing tools available. If your website offers live chat, potential clients can easily ask questions and receive real-time answers. This not only creates a better user experience, but also provides you with valuable information for a more effective follow-up call.
Here’s a closer look at some of the benefits of live chat that you can expect:
Source: The Efficacy of Live Chat Services for Real Estate, REAL Trends
Design: Claire Queally, Product Marketing Associate, OutboundEngine
- 36% Increase in Leads: On average, brokerages that use live chat on their website see a 36% increase in leads. This is higher than several other major lead sources, including website contact forms and prominent listing portals.
- 49% Average Agent Assignment: The average agent assignment for qualified leads was 49%. This means that approximately 49% of live chat leads were promising enough for an agent to follow up with.
- 3x Higher Conversion: Live chat leads convert at an average rate of 7.5% – nearly 3x higher than the 2.7% average for general online real estate leads. When triggered properly, live chat lead conversion rates can increase up to 11%.
Don’t leave visitors to wander around your site before going elsewhere to find an answer to their question. Instead, capture clients when they are ready to engage by enabling live chat services on your website. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase site conversion, and these numbers back that up.
Consumers rule the digital landscape these days. They do their own research and often prefer self-service. But eventually, even the most savvy online customer will have a question. What then?
Let’s face it, most FAQs don’t answer the true make-or-break questions, and most people don’t have time to call in and wait for an answer. Email is a great option, but customers might not get the immediate response they’re looking for and find a competitor in the meantime.
If your website offers live chat, customers can ask their questions with relative ease, make their purchase and go about their day. Sounds good, right? But is live chat really worth the investment? Here are seven reasons we think the answer is a resounding yes!
1. Gain Insight Into Visitor Behavior
What better way to learn about your customers than to talk to them?
Live chat gives you instant access to the thoughts and concerns of your clients. And since it allows you to engage in actual human conversation, you can gain relevant information by asking questions. This allows you to identify the true pain points of your clients, which can prove invaluable as you work to improve your products, services and marketing strategy over time.
2. Engage When It Matters Most
It may sound cliche, but live chat puts you in the right place at just the right time. It gives you an opportunity to connect with virtual window shoppers, many of whom are just a few questions and answers shy of sales-ready, and convert them into qualified leads. So whether you pop the chat automatically or wait for the client to contact you, you’re in a unique position to engage when it matters most.
3. Build Stronger Customer Relationships
Live chat provides an immediate connection, one that customers have come to expect in this age of instant gratification. What’s more, it’s personal! Customers know they’re speaking with a real person, someone with actual knowledge of your services who can provide expert advice and answers.
And let’s face it, real answers from real people mean so much more than a lifeless auto-response. Because no matter how well prepared that response may be, it just can’t consider the specific circumstances of the client’s question.
Maybe that’s why 63 percent of consumers say they are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat — real people, interaction, trust, and relationships.
4. Make Life Easier for Customers
When a potential customer visits your website, you want them to have the best user experience possible, right?
Well, consider this: 44 percent of consumers say that having a live person available to answer questions during an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
And why not? Live chat is convenient. It saves time and allows the client to multitask while waiting for an answer. Plus, no annoying “on hold” music. Another added bonus is that visitors can request a chat transcript for future reference.
5. Cut Costs and Increase Efficiency
Live chat offers a unique opportunity for savings. Due to the nature of chat, one representative can often handle multiple chat requests simultaneously — a feat that just isn’t possible when answering calls. This not only means shorter waiting times for customers, but it also means fewer reps are necessary to provide excellent service.
6. Increase Sales
Customers love having someone to turn to when a question arises. In fact, when surveyed about the importance of live chat, 38 percent of respondents credited their purchase directly to the live chat session.
Why? Because having a live chat representative handy is a lot like having a sales rep on the floor. Representatives can walk customers through the sale, answering questions along the way. This results in fewer bounces and helps push more shopping carts through completion at checkout.
7. Stay Competitive
Being the first to offer live chat will help you get a leg up on the competition. And if you’re not the first — you’ve got some catching up to do! But here are a few tips that will help make your live chat the best of the bunch:
- Train hard: Make sure your reps understand the product in addition to website navigation. After all, you’re looking to increase sales, not just troubleshoot.
- Be available when needed: Keep an eye on the analytics and make sure you have reps available during high traffic times, when customers are most likely to inquire.
- Don’t sound over-rehearsed: People know when you’re reading from a script — so don’t! Instead, use templates to keep reps on message, but allow them to add their own personality.
- Don’t make customers repeat themselves: Give your reps a 360-degree view of customer interactions across all channels. So if a client has previously emailed, called or sent a message via social media, your chat reps should know about it!
There you have it — seven reasons why live chat can be beneficial to your business and your customers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Do you think live chat is a worthwhile feature for your customers? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
For our part, we can say this — ReadyChat increases lead volume by over 40 percent and our leads are known to close three times higher than the industry average. Not bad right?
Not bad at all!
This year has been a wild ride for Canadian home buyers and sellers. Surging prices, overvalued properties and a short supply is being blamed on foreign investors, which have enjoyed great returns since the country began to bounce back from the recession.
However, there is concern from the federal government that they are pricing out locals. This is most pressing in the Vancouver market, the second hottest in the country, but new taxes introduced by the B.C. Liberal party meant to even the playing field for locals, at the same time, devaluing the real estate investments of Vancouverites. The Vancouver market is already seeing signs of cooling because of the 20 per cent overvaluation on properties.
Home sales across Canada are down and has economists pointing to an eminent cooling of the national housing market in 2017 after a red hot couple of years. The pressure is now on the federal government to find a resolution and have plans to delve deep into housing market data to evaluate how much the housing market relies on foreign investor to stoke demand.
When it comes down to it, the real reason Canadians are not selling is because they fear they won’t be able to afford a more expensive home, while at the same time inevitably losing value on their existing home in 2017.
The ‘Big Chill’
Existing home sales were down 2.8 per cent between April and May, according to the Ottawa-based Canadian Real Estate Association. The average price of a home has risen steadily since 2009 and its biggest jump was in May, which saw values rise by 30 per cent from the year before.
Robert Hogue, senior economist with the Royal Bank of Canada, predicted this exponential growth was simply not sustainable.
“The long-awaited cooling of Canada’s housing market may be finally at hand,” Hogue told the Financial Post. “Only time will tell. When you look at market conditions in Canada’s two hot markets, it is still very, very tight.”
2016 saw a 6.1 per cent increase in sales, with a record 536,400 properties going on and off the market. However, 2017 sales will almost come to abrupt halt with a likely increase of only 0.2 per cent, according to the CREA.
The impending downfall is putting pressure on the still fairly new Liberal federal government to take action. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been tasked with investigating how much influence foreign investors really hold in the Canadian real estate, especially in Vancouver and Toronto – the two hottest markets.
“At some point, the stretch in affordability is going to start weighing on the demand side, but it’s clear affordability is now affecting the supply side first and causing people to stay put,” Hogue said.
Foreign investors, especially those from China, see Canada as good real estate investment compared to the United States when it comes to conditions for raising a family, in comparison to the high crime rate in U.S. cities.
Detached home prices in China are an unrealistic investment because of the National People’s Congress’s ‘one property’ rule, which limits in-country financial opportunities. In Shenzuan, 98 per cent of residents live in apartments because the average price of a detached home is an unfathomable $50 million to buy. This makes the average Canadian home price of just over $503,000 extremely tempting.
There are three types of foreign investors: families, individual overseas investor and group investors. They are looking for high returns and the cities are where the majority of demand resides.
People are increasingly moving to cities for a variety of reasons, whether it be for job opportunities or for the overall quality of life they provide. In 2014, 54 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities, by 2050 there will approximately be 66 per cent living as urban dwellers.
However, all three levels of government are not taking necessary measures to ensure the healthy growth of the country’s metropolises of Vancouver and Toronto. The current vacancy rate in Toronto is under 3 per cent, which makes you wonder why developers are not clamoring for the opportunity appropriately reshape the housing landscape.
The government has done little to provide incentive to developers to build because of high land taxes among other revenue streams being heavily relied upon until the price of oil bounces back. Therefore, an inquiry by Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet into foreign investors will find the issue of rising housing prices is not a consequence of overseas buyers, but a symptom of a market that is ill-prepared for sustainable growth in urban centres because it is being hampered by a tax code in need of serious reform.
Boom and Bust in Vancouver
The current 20 per cent overvaluation on properties in Vancouver has caused a downside risk in the housing market. This is because in terms of long-term economic health, it ultimately leaves the market exposed.
The futility of the Canadian housing market is no more apparent than in the lack of affordability that already exists due a number of factors such as stagnant wages. There is currently an indebtedness of 165.5 percent of disposable income tied to housing, which is among the highest of all the major developed countries.
The idea of a $1-million home was unheard of just a decade ago, but now it’s far too common. For example, in 2005, just 11 percent of detached homes were valued at $1 million in Vancouver city limits; in July 2015, the number increased to 91 percent, according to BC Assessment who examined 66,825 properties.
Phil Soper, chief executive officer of real estate firm Royal LePage, told the Globe & Mail that this skyrocketing increase in Vancouver property value is simply not sustainable.
“You have severe affordability issues in Vancouver. It has become a serious public-policy issue, so it’s not healthy,” Soper says. “We’ve got a market in Vancouver that is appreciating too quickly. Prices are moving upward at an irrational rate.”
Royal LePage surveyed 53 markets across Canada and found that the average price of a home increased by a staggering 6.5 percent over the last year, with the average price of a home topping out at $500,688 in the fourth quarter.
Increases are not expected to last forever. According to a June housing report from TD Bank, one of the largest banks in the country, sees the real estate housing party coming to an end.
It states “There is little debate Canada’s hottest markets like Vancouver are ripe for a correction; the difficulty is predicting its timing.”
It elaborates by assuring the housing bubble is not predicted to burst in the near future, but instead prices will stabilize later this year to compensate as more properties enter the market; “Over the second half of 2016, some moderation in resale activity and price growth should become evident as bond yields pull off their lows and stretched affordability leads to a cooling in domestic and foreign housing demand.”
If you are planning to cash in on Vancouver’s real estate market, keep in mind that the report predicts housing prices will drop between two to four percent in 2017.
The new federal Liberal government’s implementation of a new real estate requirements last February, states all prospective homeowners must pay a minimum of 10 percent down payment on a home of over $500,000 will likely not have an impact on the market, as they had expected. Soper says it’s only a “slight tap on the brake” in terms of Canada’s two most expensive cities.
The B.C. Liberal Party’s passing of a new tax on foreign investors has them looking elsewhere to Toronto and Montreal. The new tax announced in late July requires foreign investors to pay an additional 15 per cent of the home’s value in property transfer tax. The new tax is meant to even the playing field for local buyers looking to enter the Vancouver housing market, where 10 percent of all property sales in the city are from foreign buyers.
However, Fitch Ratings says the market was cooling before the tax was announced, which leaves local home prices vulnerable to changes in the Canadian economy.
“We feel that the foreign investors have been propping up real estate in Vancouver, creating more demand, which is raising prices,” Susan Hosterman told the Globe & Mail, director of U.S. structured finance at Fitch Ratings. “With them potentially out of the picture, Vancouver is more susceptible to Canadian supply and demand behavior, which is mainly driven by employment.”
The national real estate landscape has been strong since the financial crisis, but Vancouver monthly home sales have dropped 21.5 percent since peaking in February. This is despite a respectable local unemployment rate of 4.4 percent reported in July, therefore the lack of sales is directly tied to soaring housing prices propelled by foreign investors and lack of affordable development, as well as fragmentation in the national economy due to factors relating to the downward trend in Alberta oil production.
On the other hand, leading real estate experts like Jordan Teperman, executive vice-president of Haven Developments, see Toronto’s market continuing its rise in property value due to foreign investors from Vancouver shifting their focus to the Greater Toronto Area due to the new Liberal taxes. Teperman points to his development projects already 85 percent sold out after only four months on the market. More than 60 per cent of these buyers were from out of province, the U.S. or overseas.
Canada’s economy is remarkably stable compared to the rest of the Western world because of the prevalence of violent crimes, xenophobia and economic uncertainty in Europe and the U.S. Therefore, it’s unrealistic to cutoff foreign investors from the opportunities Canada has to offer, who are more than willing to aid in alleviating an impending housing crisis (if hasn’t already started) by pouring funds into development projects. The ‘real’ housing crisis is the product of stagnant wages that forces those from smaller population centres to cluster in cities like Vancouver and Toronto; this increased the demand and in turn, the cost of living. The overvaluation puts the country in a sticky situation if the economy does not pick up the pace and risk consequences even more dire than a high price tag, think possible spikes in urban unemployment and homelessness.
The real concern should be when the next recession (or even worse, a depression) comes, how hard will a real estate market built on a house of cards tumble?
The face of American society is changing and with it, the real estate market. The dream of owning a home in the suburbs with a spacious backyard and garden in the front is being lost on millennials as they swap cars for public transit, bikes, and their own two feet. Cities offer a lifestyle that provides opportunity and convenience rather than going through the motions of starting a family on a cul-de-sac. This may have been the case for their parents, the baby boomers, but It’s a trend that is sweeping across the U.S. because they need to adapt to an economy that is vastly different than what we were used to seeing in the 20th century. Urban centers are home to America’s most educated and wealthiest, as well as living in the most socially equitable regions of the country. It’s a phenomenon not unique to stateside, but a global trend that is driving people away from rural/suburban life with a nuclear family to compact living; this has led to the shift of just over half of the world’s population living in cities for the first time in human history.
Young people expect to pay a premium to live in the city, but it’s a cost they view as a necessary expense because of the demand, however the payoff is economic equity. Unexpectedly, cities are also attracting baby boomers looking to down size and drawn by the same quality of life that motivates millennials. This is why it’s no surprise that the perennial most walkable cities of New York, Washington D.C., Seattle and Boston also own the highest GDP in the nation, they also have a lower mortality rate because of access to better doctors and state-of-the-art medical facilities. Owning urban property whether it be a condo or a townhouse, is a sound investment because the demand will only increase as people embrace interconnectivity, greener living and are having fewer children or none at all.
Convenience and Necessity
Home buyers no longer care so much about size when they’re living in the city because their biggest pull factors boil down to three factors: employment opportunities, entertainment and better living standards.
Take Brooklyn, N.Y. for example, a borough that’s home to North Williamsburg and Boerum Hill, two neighborhoods that once had the highest crime rates in all the five boroughs now has some of the wealthiest urbanites in the tri-state area. These neighborhoods are also seeing a burgeoning upper middle class of families thanks to gentrification, making Brooklyn practically unrecognizable from what the borough looked like in the 1980s. Now the average home price is almost $800,000. Of course these prices look incredibly inflated to someone from rural Wyoming, but the lucrative employment opportunities that urban centers have been providing since markets began to stabilize after the 2008 Recession have created a quality of living that is the envy those in small cities.
New York, Seattle, and Boston are three of the most innovative cities in the country and every great city must have reliable and safe public transit. Most new residents to a city like New York with one of the largest subway networks in the world, can save on average $10,000 annually by swapping their car for a metropass. Public transit is no longer seen as the ‘poor man’s’ mode of transportation as it is often stereotyped, but actually the lifeblood of modern cities. In fact, 12 percent of transit riders are traveling to schools and almost 60 percent are going to work. Cities that invest in public transit reduce commuting times, cut operating and maintenance costs for highways, and are a green solution to the smog-chocked cities of the last 100 years. An efficient public transportation system also promotes high-density urban development, which reduces the economic and environmental costs of endless sprawl in the suburbs.
An intricate and efficient public transit system makes a city optimal for walking and that’s why premiums are as high as 90 percent higher for office space, 71 percent for retail, and 66 percent for multifamily rental.
A 2012 study by the University of Technology Sydney on the impact rail investment has on housing prices in northwest Sydney compared housing prices before and after the opening of a rail line. The study found there was an average $58,460 increase in unit prices after the opening of the rail link, but it also shows smaller price changes for homes further away from the rail station at a rate change of $17,556 lower for every kilometer away from a new public transit station. Another interesting finding was that the more bathrooms a dwelling had, the longer it would stay on the market (at an annual loss of $7339.62 USD) and smaller homes sold for a premium because of their proximity to a public transit station. This indicates accessibility is the real luxury in cities, while size of the home is no longer for status, but exclusively dependent on the size of a family.
This is because both millennials and baby boomers value public transit for cleaner air, promotion of physical activity and avoiding the excessive stress of commuting by car to work.
Millennials are the most educated generation in history and enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in the city compared to suburbs, which is reinventing the American Dream. However, it’s difficult to determine which came first: that millennials moved to major cities because of its walkability or if the city became walkable after they began moving there.
Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of “The Geography of Jobs,” says no matter how walkability came to be, their draw on millennials are spurring the economies of these cities.
”For every college graduate who takes a job in an innovation industry, he found, five additional jobs are eventually created in that city, such as for waiters, carpenters, doctors, architects and teachers,” Moretti told the New York Times. ““It’s a type of growth that feeds on itself — the more young workers you have, the more companies are interested in locating their operations in that area and the more young people are going to move there.”
For cities that did not historically have a high-density urban population such as Phoenix and Cleveland, are finding themselves playing catch-up with New York so their local economy and housing market do not collapse due millennial preference for accessible and technologically advanced urban centers.
Christopher Leinberger, an author and professor at the George Washington University School of Business, says millennials make up the majority of the wave of migration to cities because they know urban centers offer opportunities for success, but then rarely move far away after establishing themselves.
“One of the things we are seeing evidence of is that those millennials that are finally settling down are the ones moving to urbanizing suburbs,” Leinberger told the BBC. “They want the better schools in a walkable urban place.”
Yes millennials moving to cities is great for economy, but they are not buying homes as much as previous generations. This is due to number of factors because of their financial reality: after effects of the recession, rising real estate costs, historically high student debt, and an ultra-competitive job market. However, there are still many millennials who want to reap the benefits of owning property. Millennials, the largest generation in American history, accounted for 35 percent of all homes sold in the U.S. last year. With 25 as the median age for millennials, stats indicate they do not want to be burden themselves with high rent and would rather delay their entrance into the real estate market until they are able to progress in their careers.
Realtors, urban planners, developers and municipal governments rely on when and where millennials live in cities, but despite the new urban American Dream, federal policy is surprisingly not making it easy. The decades old preference towards single-family homes has led to policies that encourage suburban sprawl rather than urban density. This is because 81 percent of federal loans go towards single-family homes and discourage mid-level, multi-family projects needed in many low-income urban areas.
Changes must be made because across all demographics, fewer people than ever want to live in the suburbs, according to the American Planning Association. 40 percent of millennials live in an
auto-dependent neighborhood as of 2016, however only 10 percent see themselves living in this type of neighborhood in the future.
Baby boomers grew up in the suburbs and most believed they would raise their families there as well then retire to warmer, cheaper living in Arizona or Florida. However, that’s just not the case as they too are migrating back to cities for many of the same conveniences and quality of life millennials are seeking. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are the largest and wealthiest generation to ever retire, a fact that realtors and developers are well aware of.
Businesses and condo buildings have begun catering to the older demographic by opening restaurants that suit their tastes and around-the-clock concierge service for their living needs. Boomers are not flocking to the city en masse like millennials, but there an estimated 74.9 million baby boomers in the U.S. and even if just a small percentage move to cities, it makes them a lucrative target demographic.
From July 2013 to June 2014, only 11 percent of buyers aged 50 to 59 closed on homes in urban areas, but a year later that percentage increased to 13 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.
There are several pull factors for boomers to cities, such as wanting to downsize, access to cheap transportation, and some of the best medical care in the country. In fact, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metro area is considered one of the best places to retire.
“If you can afford to live in Manhattan, it’s a great place to be older,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com‘s chief economist. “You’re not shoveling snow. You can walk or get transportation to any doctor or service you need. And you have a friendly doorman that pays attention to you and acts as an additional caretaker.”
Living in the suburbs is a lot of work. There is the responsibility of maintaining your home and yard work that is just not how many boomers want to enjoy their retirement. Boomers are willing to pay $700,000 and to spend their twilight in cities, with no shortage boutiques and cultural centers popping up to attract their business. However, the influx of wealthy boomers is driving up the price of living and inadvertently driving out millennials who do not have as deep of pockets.
Regardless of age, city living is a universal desire with upwards of two billion people expected to move to urban areas in the coming decades. The convenience of being able to walk to work, school, entertainment and services are not only providing a higher quality of life, but also creating centers of innovation that can be studied to understand how to effectively plan cities for the next 100 years.
Imman News, the leader in everything real estate news, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Imman Connect with its second event of the year running from Aug. 2-5 in beautiful San Francisco, California. This event will highlight exciting new technology and software that is revolutionizing the real estate industry.
Imman Connect is the premier event for everyone that cares about the real estate industry and where it’s heading. Each year, thousands of influential leaders in the industry come together at Imman Connect to network, discuss current trends, and make deals.
We are proud to announce Justin Shum, founder and CEO of ReadyChat, trainer, and customer service advocate, will be speaking at this year’s event in San Francisco. Shum’s thought-provoking session will teach attendees how to build a powerful sales and service funnel that maximizes lead conversion. He will also explain how overspending on marketing to drive sales alone is a costly mistake. This is because the trick to converting leads lies in implementing a cutting edge sales and service approach that creates lifetime customers and increased profits. Attendees will ultimately walkaway with a new understanding of effective lead management techniques and how to develop a streamlined sales platform and system that maximizes their marketing budget.
Imman Connect San Francisco 2016 will also feature speaker sessions by: Scott Wright, Manager of Business Analytics at REAL Trends; David Friedman, founder and CEO of Boston Logic; Aaron Kardell, CEO at Homespotter; Jack Miller, CEO at T3; Matt Fagioli, founder of XPlode Conference; and many more.
Unlocking the Secrets to Unmatched Lead Conversion with ReadyChat CEO Justin Shum
Date: Thursday, August 4th
Time: 3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Location: Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Boston Logic Franciscan Room B
For more information on Imman Connect San Francisco 2016, please click here.