Working with the Millennial Real Estate Consumer
While members of the Millennial Generation are defined as being someone born between 1980 and the late 1990s, the true definition of this generation is much deeper and more complicated than just the date on their birth certificate.
We would all like to understand how to communicate and co-exist with our children, grandchildren and members of our extended families that come from this generation, but some of you may not feel like it is worth your time to do the same in the real estate world. However, if you do the math, the top end of the Millennial Generation is now fully grown up at 34 years old. They aren’t kids anymore. It is in our best interests to try to understand this generation and what makes them tick because they are already becoming and will continue to be our next wave of clients and customers.
The first thing to think about when dealing with Millennials is how major life events that have shaped their young adult lives. All prior generations were raised on the primary principles that the best path to a successful future was to pursue a college education and own your own home. Despite being the most educated generation in history, the recession resulted in a significant portion of this generation being unemployed or under-employed and saddled with heavy student loan debt. The result was that many Millennials have had to delay the start of their true adult lives
Events, such as the explosion of the Challenger Shuttle, 9/11, the constant presence of terrorism, and military conflicts all over the globe, have also shaped this generation’s view of the world.
On the flip side, this generation grew up with technology and are not intimidated by it and are very comfortable and immersed in it. 97-percent of Millennials are involved in social media and 80% have a profile on more than one social media site/network. Over 80 percent of Millennials own a smart phone and they spend an average of 14.5 hours per week on it. And due to their high reliance and competency with technology, they do place a lot of value in it and it definitely has an impact on their business/buying decisions. So in other words, if you want to attract a Millennial client you need to make sure your internet presence (website, blog, social media profiles, etc.) are compelling.
And it is through this close relationship with technology that they have a very promising outlook that they can change the world by starting their own business, creating an app or being involved in a political or civic initiative.
It is this connection to technology, the Internet and their mobile devices that also makes working with a Millennial a bit different than prior generations.
The Internet has made an infinite amount of information available to everyone. Most Millennials feel they can figure anything out by just Googling it. While access to information is a great thing, it can also be overwhelming and as we all know, not all information available online is equal, which may result in a client or customer who has incomplete or misinformation. Your Millennial client may feel so empowered by the information they found that they don’t appreciate the value of your experience. They may also question your tried-and-true processes or how they found a listing before you sent it to them.
You can expect your Millennial homebuyer to be heavily involved in the research process and highly prepared.
Their heavy use of social media, Instant Messenger, SMS/text messaging and tools like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Viber and WhatsApp, leads them to expect quick responses to communications. For example, the average acceptable response to a phone call is four hours. It is 90 minutes for an email. But you need to understand that for instant or text message the expected response time is 90 seconds which is why so many Millennials prefer these communication tools due to their speed and the fact it doesn’t interrupt what they are doing.
This, of course, impacts your real estate practice because you need to make sure you do everything you can to respond to an online lead as quickly as possible or they are moving on. When it comes to working with your current clientele, you should always ask them what their preferred communication tool is when you start to work with them. Some will want calls, others emails, texts or instant messages. Ask for the frequency of how often they want communication/updates, and then you need to adapt to it. And again, this can differ from client to client.
It’s also important to understand what motivates Millennials in their real estate decisions. As stated previously, more senior generations looked at real estate as an investment and paid closer attention to specs and things that affected resale value. But Millennials view things very differently. In other words, providing details such as price per square foot or market saturation will not resonate with a Millennial. They care more about things like drive time to work, being in a certain part of town or specific school zones. For a Millennial, it is all about lifestyle decisions.
So in closing, while the Millennial Generation might be more technology savvy, a little more informed of the process and a bit less patient, they aren’t really different that the generations that came before them. What they are looking for is a professional to help them buy or sell their property and if you understand and adapt to this, you will be successful working with them going forward.