The Takeaway with Nobu Hata, Featuring Brian Copeland

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Brian Copeland, GRI, ABR, a top performer with Village Real Estate in Nashville, Tenn., explains how he integrates the data in the Profile in his sales approach and also how he uses it as the foundation for a series of training sessions at his brokerage.

Copeland, a past REALTOR® of the Year for the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors®, discusses in The Takeaway with Nobu Hata, a new podcast series, how he and his colleagues use the report all year long to increase their sales success.

The Takeaway With Nobu Hata is a new audio podcast series. It features in-depth discussions on business-building tips that successful real estate pros are using in the field.

Listen and share The Takeaway with Nobu Hata. 

Nobu Hata: Welcome to The Takeaway. This is Nobu Hata, director of member engagement at the National Association of REALTORS®. It's my pleasure to bring you Brian Copeland. Brian you need no introduction, but please, for the people who don't know you, why don't you tell folks who you are and where you are in this world?

Brian Copeland: First of all, it's great to be here with everyone today, Nobu. I'm in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nobu: Awesome. Brian, we're going to talk about the Home Buyer and Seller Profile, one of the most popular profiles NAR Research puts out. It's something you look forward to, not only as an agent but as a manager and broker-leader, correct?

Brian: Well, for me, this is the Santa Claus arrival of the year. This is the time we wait for and it's kind of like getting your data in at the end of the year, when you start doing your sales figures. This is Super Bowl day for us, because this is truly the big reveal of what is going on inside today's consumer.

Nobu: So, Brian, before we jump into the Profile, I want to dive deep into what you do to absorb the data and make it executable? The question I always get is, "What do we do with this data now that we have it?" How do you figure out how you're going to use it?

Brian: Well, it's a lot. I mean, you get this stack of paper or a PDF and the tendency is just to glaze over it. But the key is to go page-by-page and chart-by-chart. When you look at one chart, you have to look at it and say, "How does this apply to, one, a buyer, and two, a seller? And then, take it in pieces. Don't try to read the whole thing at once, where you get so overwhelmed that you don't know what to do with it. So, line-by-line and chart-by-chart is always my strategy, and then from there, I take it into other applications.

Nobu: Let's talk about it from the broker-manager's point of view. You're talking buyers and sellers now. How are you going to execute on the Profile when you get it this year?

Brian: Okay, as a manager-owner, I run our sales meeting every single week. You have to think of a strategy. How are you going to share this with the real estate associates in your firm? I would encourage you to take the report and create a weekly segment. I think the tendency of an educator, or a broker, is just to put forth the report to everyone at the same time, saying, "Wow, I have a whole hour of this!" And that's not the learning style that we're certainly seeing in real estate professionals today. Education is best done in short segments. So, I would encourage you to create a weekly segment in your sales meeting, where you concentrate on one use of the data. You can have a segment just on consumer behavior or on buying practices of the consumer, and the managing broker can take a screen shot and share the graphics that go with the data. Of course, you need to attribute the graphics to the report, but you need to be sharing the graphics within your company newsletters, the intranet inside your company, any Facebook group or platform that you're using. Also include scripts that might go along with the graphics. So, just don't share the graphic and don't just share the data, but also put scripts, dialogues, and everything with it.

Nobu: Awesome. So, use these pieces, along with actual tidbits, executable scripts, or emails that an agent can implement right now with what they are seeing. That's fantastic.

So, as an agent, you're seeing this, you're seeing these tidbits of data. Let's say you're talking to a seller today about listing a home, which right now is hot thing because there's no inventory anywhere. I can use this information when I'm talking to a seller, correct?

Brian: Right. This is about value proposition. Today's consumers are bombarded with so much information on home television shows, on every network, that this is your opportunity to have a piece of proprietary information. The value proposition is when you know this data and you know how to use your knowledge to prove your expertise. Then the consumer sees the value in you.

If you're going with the home seller, think about the data that's about income levels. There's also data about age, and so, if you're sitting at a listing appointment and you were to say, "Okay, your home now sits in this area. It's an existing home, not a new construction, so the likely buyer for this home will be this type of person, based off this report." And then that means I can go in and purchase niche ads in the Google space or in the Facebook space. I can even go into certain restaurants and buy space inside the restaurant, or wherever that niche person is going to be in. You're showing them how you're niching your advertising based off the data.

If we're seeing that a certain percentage of homebuyers are between the ages of 25 to 34, you also get the opportunity to show your local market expertise about where the best place is to reach these buyers. You can also look at how you can craft your whole area for presales. Last week, I met with a couple here in Nashville and they are doing a prelisting. We're not listing this home until spring of 2017, okay? I'm using the statistics in there to help them understand what they need to be doing to prepare their home, because inside this report it's going to basically tell you what homebuyers are looking for in homes. And so, if they have a certain preference towards a certain thing, that's what the home seller, based off that market insight, should be preparing the home for.  So, the home seller has a lot of value in this and you are the one with that data to give it to them.

Nobu: If you're prepping a seller now for listing their home next year, it's an opportunity to show value over and over again all the way up to the point of where you're listing that home with data that is executable right now and it's a fantastic opportunity to show value for people for months on end before they use you to get other referrals for sellers as well. It's a beautiful tactical way to do that. For buyers, though, there's this thought: you have to be a millennial and have to hire millennials to do this and that. There's a lot of information about buyers, but do you have to be a millennial to sell homes to millennials or do you have to think like one in order to resonate with them?

Brian: I know a lot of 55 year-old guys who have a mindset of a 25 year-old female, so it's not a matter of age. It's a matter of where they are in their lives. We know that younger females are very interested in buying homes. Well, that 55 year-old man has now got that same mentality. He's just waited later in life, so that's what you have to be watching with this. I'm really big about counseling. When you're a buyer expert or when you're a buyer's representative, you start as a counselor to them. When you look at the Profile, you're going to see information about what's important to the homebuyer. We always think. "Okay, we want to talk to them about investment benefits of real estate. We want to talk to them about the tax benefits of it or the importance of being close to work." You know what the most important thing to them was a few years ago? It was the importance of home ownership. The idea of owning a home; so, if we're sitting in a counseling session and I go, "This is going to be a great investment," that's not one of the top reasons that these first-time homebuyers are buying. They're buying because they want ownership. They want to feel like they have something of their own so you have to appeal to that.

If you're going in there with your scripts and dialogues that's hitting on this whole thing, like, "Man, you're going to make a lot of money on this one day," and that's not the reason they're doing that, you're not helping them. So, this report helps you understand their psyche.

We have our own stereotypes of what we think people want. We always think investments, mortgage interest deduction . . . but that's not what the consumer is thinking about necessarily. And then you also have this whole piece of homebuyer education. You know, homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, which we're seeing enter this market, especially in Nashville, want education. Again, this gives you the insight to help your buyer over the competition they have for a home. This isn't the Nordstrom or JC Penney of buying. You just don't walk into the store and take one off the shelf. You've got competitors in there. This is like Cabbage Patch dolls in 1982. People are rushing in, grabbing them off the shelf. It's my job as your counselor to tell you this is what your competition looks like and this is what this profile shows you. What is your competition? What do we need to be successful to get you in your first home?

Nobu: Yeah, it's suiting your expertise and your skill set to what they want. The treating people one size fits all, putting people in generational boxes, that doesn't work. Actually, every time I go to Nashville, you are exactly right. I mean, I see 55 year-olds, savvy folks, and I see 20 year-old curmudgeons. You know, it's generational boxes that just don't work anymore. The stats, they are incremental and some of them don't change every year, but this profile is 35 years old and it's an amazing thing.

Brian: Oh, yeah.

Nobu: What are you advising now, with people and for agents or anybody who talks to you, about this whole migration of folks who are going online first for information about the market? Is there anything you do about things like that?

Brian: We see that statistic change throughout the years. I mean, in 2005-2006, you know, the statistic was in the 80 percent of people beginning their search online. Now we're seeing that statistic in the high 90s. I'm not sure what the current statistic is, but it's high. We have to understand that for people now the homebuying process is truly a journey. They are going to be online, their incubation time is going to be longer, but we have to be present in two ways: We have to show our expertise as buyer knowledge so that goes into your blogging world, that goes into how you present certain videos in your social world, but then also it goes into the seller world and the importance of what their home looks like online. If we know that in the high 90 percent of people begin their search online, then while an open house is certainly a strategy to sell a home, the being online and online perfection is a bigger part of it.

A huge part of our training and our value proposition is showing the sellers that when you come out of the gate online you have to be perfect. My friend Ted always says that it's like the homecoming queen on the float. She gets one chance to come by you. If the float is not perfect, if she's not sitting on top of that float and the crown and sash are not in place, it's a failure. So, we have to make sure it's perfect and this report tells you what you should expect online and then that helps you.

The other thing I like about it is that you always hear from sellers. There's a part of the report that talks about people moving within their own cities. A high percentage of people moving are usually buying within a 15-mile radius. You have the one home seller who's here in Nashville that says, "Well, we want you to run ads in Los Angeles!"  Well, you know what? Los Angeles is probably bigger than Tennessee, so it's tough to run an ad over there and niche it right. I can show them that, more likely, their homebuyer is going to be from the 15-mile radius and I have the data to support that. Man, that just changes the game for me.

Nobu: Yeah, web appeal is the new curb appeal now, right?  At the end of the day, this report is going to come out every year and you're doing what I think a lot of folks do not do. I spoke yesterday to a group of people who are literally on vacation mode because the rest of the year for them is going to be holidays and all of that other stuff, but the demand on the buy in and sell side, that's showing them the real world. Now, what are you going to do over the course of the next month or so to prepare yourself in your business, anything that's coming out or sticking out of your mind?

Brian: Well, one of the things is farming and geo-farming. You have to look and say, "Okay what does the homebuying population want for home stock?" If they're looking for existing homes, then you've got to check your farming pieces. You've got to look at the postcards, the mail campaigns, the boots on the ground, and operations that you are doing to attract inventory that's coming down the pike. We use the winter as a strategy time. We'll use this data to say, "Okay, we have to beef up and find inventory in mid-century modern homes." We're seeing a lot of people purchasing existing homes and what does our home stock look like? We can also see the turn toward new construction and what are the new construction sellers that we need to be attracting or the agents who have that kind of stock? Well, we may not have the stock, but we can work with the agents. "We've got a buyer coming in tomorrow and they're wanting to be in the urban core of Nashville. They want walkability and they want a pool." Well, I need the relationships to be able to go out there and find that stock, so we'll especially use this reporting, because this area between Halloween and New Year's is our prep time, so that's part of our strategic plan as we move into January 2017.

Nobu: Awesome. Brian, thank you very much for your time. Get back out there! Thank you for being on The Takeaway and search for it on or on Soundcloud. Have a good day.

The Takeaway

Access the 2016 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

About Our Speakers

Nobu Hata is the director of digital engagement for the National Association of REALTORS®. Before joining NAR, he was a real estate agent with Edina Realty in Minnesota. The self-described geek has called Alaska and Minnesota home. Now, he's in in Chicago or on the road meeting with REALTORS® and association executives to talk about NAR, their business, and the integration of digital technologies in the real estate industry. 

Past Episodes

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