Buying a home is one of the biggest lifestyle and financial decisions most people will ever make. And while online shopping for everyday essentials like clothing, food and small appliances is at an all-time high, consumers making big-ticket purchases crave in-person, one-on-one experiences. For this reason, the real estate industry is trending opposite other consumer markets that are becoming more tech-driven and impersonal by the day.
The real estate market is also an increasingly millennial market. Millennials now constitute the largest demographic of homebuyers, though they’re still not purchasing real estate at the rate of previous generations. Having grown up during the housing and mortgage crisis, Millennials are wary of home ownership, especially as they live and work in a growing gig economy. For those generating income by such individual and unpredictable means, spending that hard-earned cash on a home requires a similarly conscientious and personalized approach.
Forbes Real Estate Council member Irene Amato is the founder and CEO of A.S.A.P. Mortgage Corp., a brokerage firm with offices in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania. Since the 2007 onset of the U.S. mortgage and real estate meltdown, A.S.A.P. Mortgage has flourished, opening five new office locations, hiring 24 new employees and achieving licensure in five additional states.
Amato attributes her firm’s substantial growth in a tough market to its focus on offering a personalized “boutique” homebuying experience to each and every client. “I see our success as validation that delivering an experience as opposed to a transaction yields qualifiable results,” she says.
Amato believes other mortgage brokers can achieve similar organic growth by becoming “the face of mortgages” in their communities. And she advises new homebuyers to seek those outstanding faces. “Now more than ever, it’s important to build a team that understands your needs and concerns. The mortgage and real estate transaction is unique to each consumer, who deserves a personalized experience with options customized for their individual situation,” Amato says.
A great way for mortgage and real estate professionals to foster this kind of relationship is by offering consumer education events that empower potential clients to take ownership, not just of a new home, but the entire home buying process. A longtime educator, Amato is a New York State-approved real estate and mortgage continuing education instructor. Part of A.S.A.P. Mortgage’s community presence is its free consumer education seminars. Recently, the first-ever A.S.A.P. Mortgage home expo in Bronx, New York attracted 160 attendees to 10 educational breakout sessions covering all aspects of the housing industry.
Amato’s advice to real estate agents and mortgage professionals hoping to gain an edge in any market is to prioritize establishing and maintaining a sincere relationship with clients above all else:
“The best way to solve almost any problem is through genuine human interaction. Our society is so technology-driven that when a customer is treated like a human being and not just a number, they remember it and refer it.”