Aug 25 2023
Eric Nelson

Understanding 4 Key Real Estate Consumer Personas


They say buying a home is one of the most emotional purchases you can make. We’re not sure if SNL nailed the exact emotion in this skit… but it’s safe to say that the entire process, from poking around at open houses to making an offer and beyond, is full of ups and downs.

Many prospective homeowners have likely felt the “downs” more frequently in the past decade-plus, as the economy has made buying a home—if not finding a place to live, period—increasingly difficult. First, during the 2009 housing bubble, homeowners sold off while mortgage rates plummeted. Then, during the 2020 pandemic, the available home supply dropped as construction costs skyrocketed and more people, especially millennials, entered the buying arena. Now, record-high home prices and increasing mortgage rates are causing many US adults to delay their homebuying plans, and the market has continued to cool.

And the economy is impacting more than just buying a home: Renters are struggling too, saying the rising cost of, well, everything is leaving them “cost-burdened.” Investors buying more properties is only adding to the competition, and economic factors make up at least half of the top issues affecting real estate agents today.

That said, there are still buyers, renters, investors, and real estate agents in the market right now, ready to make cash offers, go above asking price or forgo contingencies, and invest in the hopes of earning passive income. And for advertisers looking to reach these various audiences effectively, a fine-tuned, persona-based approach is critical—as long as it abides by the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws.

To that end, let’s get to know how four key real estate consumer personas look, sound, and feel as they research this major money move. At the same time, we’ll explore some strategies, shared by real estate marketing expert and VP of Integrated Client Solutions at Basis Technologies, Savannah Thrasher, for reaching each of these personas.

1. Potential Home Buyers

“I’m ready to settle down, and I’m researching until I know exactly what I want.”

With nearly 21 million potential buyers in the market, home sales are forecasted to reach 6.07 million this year. Most of those buyers are between the ages of 25 and 44, and are college graduates with household incomes of above $50,000—meaning they’re stable enough to borrow money at today’s rates. This group spans people who are single, married, or living with their partner, and have or don’t have kids, so from “starter homes” to “forever homes,” there’s not much on the market that this buyer group won’t consider. Size matters (not too big for a couple, not too small for a growing family), as does image, social status, and feeling influential among their friends and family, so the research process of potential home buyers starts early and stays intense.

Savannah Thrasher’s media recommendations: Getting in front of this segment throughout their process is key. Brands can reach and influence potential home buyers effectively by showing them trends and homes for sale, either contextually when they’re reading about homes and buying-related topics, via search when they’re looking in specific geographies, or on social media. Video ads provide additional time and space for messaging, as well as education and inspiration. Leveraging first-party data obtained from buyer inquiries, like scheduling a tour or downloading a brochure, means reaching a prospect with high intent. Finally, retargeting based on browsing activity could bring potential home buyers back through the virtual front door.

2. Renters

“I can’t keep up with the Joneses, but I like what I like…and one thing I’d like is a place to live.”

Renters—of which there are 72 million in the US—are definitely feeling the effects of the economy, often feeling like they can’t keep up with bills and financial commitments. Consumers in this group skew younger than the potential home buyer audience, falling between the ages of 18 and 44. They’ve likely completed some college, have a household income between $20,000 and $60,000, and may be single or divorced. Despite financial stress, they’re willing to spend in an effort to experience life to the fullest, and typically only save for very important and specific purchases. This group is made up of early adopters who influence their friends, and they love what’s hot, meaning they’ll switch brands if it makes them look cool.

Savannah Thrasher’s media recommendations: With so much competition in this space, to connect with renters who plan to continue renting, rental communities should strive for top search placements using custom keywords within their geographies. In fact, a hyperlocal advertising approach makes sense, since this segment is often looking for apartments or units within a comfortable radius of their colleges, employers, or families. Businesses that balance what’s trendy and what’s inexpensive are more likely to win with this segment. Modern, diverse, and inclusive messaging will catch their attention, and communicating about deals and offers that are financially beneficial is key.

3. Investment Property Owners

“I worked damn hard for my money, and now it’s time for my money to work for me.”

The nearly 11 million investment property owners in the US skew older and appear more established than many of their counterparts: They’re ages 45 and older, they’re often married, and they’re college graduates with household incomes of $100,000 and above. What they do with that money, especially regarding real estate, can be a bit riskier, but can also come with higher rewards. That’s because they’re financially secure, and enjoy educating themselves on topics like real estate and finance so they can own their expertise. They also enjoy showing off the fruits of their labor: Their homes and their wealth are signifiers of social status.

Savannah Thrasher’s media recommendations: Like other segments, investors can be reached via paid search as they hunt for their next property, and contextual targeting can place ads next to the financial content this group craves. Beyond that, more premium inventory through private marketplaces specific to business, finance, and investments creates a high degree of relevance. Plus, this group is loyal and trusting, so brands that advertise luxury, details, and both physical and fiscal comfort may see repeat business and a high ROI on their advertising spend.

4. Real Estate Agents

“I love helping my clients find their dream home…so why not get one for myself?”

While real estate agents may not be the first consumer persona you think of when you hear “property buyers,” someone has to sell to them! With about 3.5 million real estate agents in the market for a home of their own, and with prospective buyers willing to take risks in hopes of winning big and impressing others, real estate agents are a viable audience to target. They’re between the ages of 25 and 64, married or engaged with kids, with some college but also specialized education in their field, and with household incomes over $100,000. Most importantly, they love what they do: They take pride in their careers and in being trusted resources for buyers. They work hard—days, nights, and weekends—but it’s a sacrifice they’ll make for the financial reward and to be the “host with the most” for their clientele.

Savannah Thrasher’s media recommendations: Between the information they need to sell homes and their sophistication when it comes to buying one (or two, if a vacation home is the right fit), brands should emphasize quality, price, and the know-how it takes to be a productive agent. Reaching agents with job title targeting, as well as geotargeting real estate offices for those moments when they’re on site, and then gearing messaging toward them, can pay dividends.

Packing Up: Real Estate Consumer Personas for Advertisers

While the economy has shaken the real estate industry’s foundation, people are still eager to find a home, whether that’s via purchasing, renting, or investing in real estate. And while these consumer personas may vary in demographics and values, their processes are similar: Research, accompanied by emotion, followed by decision—all of which can be influenced by a marketing campaign that finds prospects where they are, speaks to their motivations, and builds trust from consideration to closing.

If you’re looking to connect with one or more of these personas, advertising automation can help your team get more granular and efficient about reaching them in all the spaces where they spend their time. Download our guide to learn about all the ways these technologies can make your campaigns work smarter and move you closer to your business goals.

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