American politics has become an extremely polarizing topic over the last couple of decades. Today, the nation is sharply divided along party lines, affecting our relationships, thoughts, and even our sense of belonging and happiness.
Real estate and politics have always been connected, whether it’s about redlining policies that have plagued America’s past or government economic interventions into interest rates, mortgages, and consumer protection.
Inevitably, there’s a relationship between government and investors, but the political attitudes of the population also play a role in the success of an investor, especially in our current climate. In a recent report from Redfin, recent movers were polled on the types of locations they would or would not move to based on the laws and politics of that area.
Surely enough, the top issues were about affordability and availability, but other big issues were about legal marijuana, abortion, voting laws, and gender discrimination.
As the nation remains polarized and the real estate market begins cooling off, is there room for new marketing techniques based on political attitudes?
The divide for multiple issues
Of the respondents in the Redfin survey, 15% reported that they would not live somewhere abortion was fully legal while on the flip side, 12% said they would only live someplace where abortion was legal. The rest of the respondents were less willing to take a definitive side of the argument.
Overall, 40% had favorable views of places where abortion is legal and 32% had negative views.
“People take the politics of a place into consideration when deciding where to move, but the truth of the matter is that other factors including housing affordability and access to jobs and schools take priority,” said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Oftentimes this means someone will move from a blue state to a red state (or vice versa), but choose a home in a neighborhood where most people hold the same political views as they do. Austin—a liberal Texas enclave that’s attracting scores of left-leaning folks from pricier coastal cities—is just one example.”
Other questions asked in the survey were about gender anti-discrimination laws, where 49% expressed a desire to live in an area with strong protections whereas 23% had a negative outlook on it.
For voting laws, 55% expressed a positive view of places with strong voter protections and favorable vote-by-mail laws while 16% were more apprehensive.
Finally, 46% wanted to live somewhere with marijuana-friendly regulations compared to 22% who saw it in a negative light.
Why does this matter for agents and investors?
It comes down to marketing! We know that the rural/urban divide is more pronounced now than ever before. Republicans tend to live in rural areas while Democrats crowd the cities. The suburbs are a mixed bag.
A quick look at exit poll data from the 2020 presidential election tells the story. Nearly 60% of urban voters broke towards then-candidate Joe Biden, while 38% went for former President Trump. Suburban voters favored Biden 50% to 48%, while 57% of rural voters went towards Trump.
Marketing towards homebuyers or renters can take a different form depending on local voter preferences. It might be easier to sift through the noise if you target a prospect’s political attitudes, especially on the issues that mean a lot to them.
Second, because voter identities have been demographically segmented by political campaigns, we have a good sense of the buyer personas that make up each political party. Of course, each party encompasses a wide range of people, identities, income levels, and more, but there are usually common denominators for each.
For instance, if you’re an agent in rural Texas looking for buyers, you might find it easier to target Republicans over Democrats. Of course, the market is hot right now, so offers are not hard to come by. But in more desperate times, finding buyers is a lot harder. Using political affiliations to your advantage might be a ticket to success.
As for investors, the same type of marketing can be used to fill units with tenants. College campuses usually skew liberal ideologically, so to catch a student’s attention, you might use language that someone who identifies as liberal resonates with for a property description.
Being a landlord can be fun—if you do it right
No matter how great you are at finding good rental property deals, you could lose everything if you don’t manage your properties correctly. Being a landlord doesn’t have to mean middle-of-the-night phone calls, costly evictions, or daily frustrations with ungrateful tenants.
Now, there’s an important distinction to make: Real estate is regulated by the Fair Housing Act. By no means should you discriminate in any way and nor should you be qualifying anyone based on their political affiliations. However, there’s no regulation or code that prevents you from marketing towards a specific voter attitude.
Marketing towards groups of voters is purely meant to make it easier for you to sift through an audience. Ads on Facebook are difficult for real estate-related activities because laws prevent you from marketing based on income, gender, and other critical demographics.
Using political data as a guide allows for more creativity and flexibility in ad campaigns. Ad displays segmented by political interests instead of the bland real estate interests that Facebook provides gives you access to a whole new group of people.
While the real estate market is hot right now, there are signs that it’s slowing down, albeit slowly.
While the political frictions of the United States are counterintuitive towards getting important issues fixed, we’re likely going to remain polarized for a good while longer.
So, as real estate begins to ease back into traditional market conditions, consider using political data and voter preferences in your marketing campaigns. The information is free, easy to find, and well-researched. You might find it extremely rewarding.