Collier Building Industry Association – 2015 Real Estate Industry Panel

I recently attended the 2015 Real Estate Industry Panel hosted by the Collier Building Industry Association on Wednesday, May 27th at the Naples Hilton. The speakers were reputable Southwest Florida builders and the President of the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

IMG_1763 - 1Panelists:

  1. Richard Corace, Kalea Bay
  2. John Hillman, Kitson & Partners
  3. Mike Hughes, NABOR
  4. Bob Imig, Stock Development
  5. Jonathan Pentecost, DR Horton

Moderator:

The event had a great turnout and I’m truly amazed at how well the panelists responded to the moderator’s questions. However, I do take issue with some of the assertions that the panelists made – particularly when it comes to the web.

What Was the 2015 Real Estate Industry Panel About?

Not only is the temperature rising, but the Southwest Florida real estate market and the building Industry are starting to heat up too. The building industry is expecting 2015 and 2016 to be very active. Industry confidence can be seen as more and more permits are being pulled in the area. This realized and project growth is what the building industry and real estate industry needs after being hit by the great recession. As noted by the Naples News, the market has changed drastically, and builders have responded by revamping their products and strategies.

Although I really enjoyed attending the event and respect the moderator and panelists I do not agree with two of their assertions – that only baby boomers are their customers and that their customers don’t use the web.

Why an Internet Presence Matters For the Building Industry In 2015

First, I’d like to address the assertion that Baby-Boomers and NOT millennials are the primary target of builders in SWFL. Absolutely! For now… with the baby-boomers aging out of the workforce and into retirement and beyond baby-boomers are absolutely the lions’ share of the market. However, they’re about to be (and rather quickly) eclipsed:

According to the Pew Research Center, the “Millennial” generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boomer generation as the nation’s largest living generation. Millennials are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers. The Gen X population is projected to outnumber the Boomers by 2028.”

Millennials are these panelists’ next potential buyer – and we are all online – and we’re about to be knocking only on the doors of those builders that have invested time and money in their online presences.

Internet and technology has always been around for Millennials and they expect a digitally enhanced consumer experience. Did I mentioned Millennials all use smartphones and/or tablets to search online versus a desktop? An important factor to consider now is that your website needs to adapt to all devices – this change will affect how you rank in all search networks. If your website is not Mobile-Friendly, potential customers will bail from your website within seconds.

BABY BOOMERS ARE ONLINE

Second, and probably most important (and irksome) is this CONTINUED MYTH THAT “MY AUDIENCE ISN’T ONLINE BECAUSE THEY’RE OLD). Zach and I agree that this is one of those largest myths that we’d like to die.

Your audience is online – THIS AUDIENCE IS ABSOLUTELY ONLINE – and not acknowledging that is both a missed opportunity and a slap in the face to those individuals that didn’t grow up with, but are the fastest growing segment of the population to be adopting and using, technology.

Baby Boomers, Millennials, and the Gen X generations are all online and searching for you. Our own extensive post nearly a year ago clearly showed that both Baby-Boomer era and the eldery’s use of the Internet has been exploding – and the trends have only continued upward. The Elderly Internet Usage post outlines in detail some of the research that was done on Baby Boomers and their Internet usage.

 

Construction & Real Estate Online

Our own extensive post nearly a year ago clearly showed that both Baby-Boomer era and those over 65 use of the Internet has been exploding

But, outside of simply refreshing their product offering – have constructions company’s, developers, and real estate brokerages and agents similarly refreshed their marketing? Specifically, have these builders revamped their web presence to adapt? A few of the questions directly addressed this, unfortunately the answers were less than stellar.

When asked about their online presence and their efforts to differentiate themselves, some of the panelists responded with how essential it is to have a Facebook page and other’s noted on using drones. But, as someone in THIS industry (the web and web marketing) – and as someone who gets to work with industry experts all the time I felt these answers were not relevant at best, and out-right inaccurate and ignorant at worst.  Between the questions and the answers it became clear that the Internet is not an important focus for most Southwest Florida construction companies. However, even more concerning was how not-in-line some of these construction professionals’ views are with actual measured consumer trends.

Not all of the panelists were in the dark as to the power and necessity of the Internet however:

“The Internet has been a godsend to my profession, because buyers arrive more educated and ready to buy,” stated Mike Hughes, President of NABOR.

I applauded this because he is 100% correct. The reason why buyers arrive more educated and ready to buy is because 90% of potential buyers do their research online before they make a purchase decision. Your potential buyers are using search engines to find and research your business, before they learn about you. What does your website offer those potential buyers? Can they do their research and make a conversion based on the content that you currently provide?

It was great learning more about the construction and real estate market and getting into the minds of our potential clients and learning more about their business, even if there views about our particular segment are out of line with reality. At the end of the day it just represents an opportunity for a technology savvy construction company, builder, developer, or broker to come in and sweep the market.

But what do I know? I’m just a millennial.

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