What Young Buyers Want: A guide on how to best serve the next generation of homeowners

Read all about it: Baby boomers have been dethroned

As of 2015, the millennial generation―not the baby boom generation― will be the “largest living generation” in the US. There are over 80 million millennials in the US, and while many of them are drowning in student debt and poor employment prospects, there is a considerable contingent that has managed to pay off student loans, secure steady jobs, and plan for the future. These millennials have successfully weathered the recession and are ready to take the next step by moving out of their apartments and buying their first homes.

Millennials

Favorable climate for young buyers
With rent rates rising and home prices stagnating, 2015 is a great year for these millennials to take the leap and make one of the most important purchases of the life. Many states have financial assistance programs that can help young buyers purchase the home of their dreams. Washington, for example, has a buyer assistance program that provides zero interest, second mortgage loans for down payments and closing costs. Moreover, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has cut back on its mortgage insurance premiums and Fannie and Freddie Mac have cut minimum down payments from 5% to 3%.

Strategy: Share your knowledge of these buyer assistance programs with your agents so that they can better sell themselves to young buyers. The internet is rife with information, but only brokerages have the professional capability to synthesize that information and present it coherently. Millennials need you, not Zillow.

Uptick in first-time buyer activity
Statistical research and anecdotal reports suggest that millennials have already started to look for homes in greater numbers. According to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance Pulse Tracking Survey, first time buyer activity is higher than usual during this early part of the season. First-time buyers, for instance, accounted for 36.3% of home purchases this past December, an auspicious sign. Redfin, a major real estate brokerage, says that 57% percent of their home tours were for first time buyers, which is an exceptionally high percentage.

Strategy: Capitalize on the high buyer interest by having your agents actively pursue the business of young buyers and nurture productive relationships with them. One of the first steps towards achieving this goal is to create marketing and branding materials specifically geared towards millennials—when they see themselves featured on real estate blogs and social media sites, they are more likely to read on. Twitter is a great platform for engaging young buyers, and your brokerage should reply to relevant tweets, regardless of whether those tweets were directed towards you. When done right, Twitter can develop new leads.

Cross-generational communication strategies
As a real estate executive, you are most likely used to working with Gen Xers and Baby Boomers― those in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Like you, your most seasoned agents have honed their craft to suit the specific needs of these older generations. This knowledge and expertise is valuable, but it must be paired with strategies attune to generational differences in communication. Millennials are very different from the generations that preceded them; wooing millennials is not like wooing Gen Xers and Baby boomers. For instance, most millennials prefer text to voicemail, want paperless transactions, and like to see their agents using the most up-to-date technology. Agents need to be aware of this difference as they interact with young home-buyers and be prepared to shift communication strategies to suit the specific needs of their customers.

Strategy: Your agents—both young and old—must be experts at cross-generational communication. Your young agents must know traditional forms of communication, and your older agents must actively learn how to best connect with millennials. At you next company meeting or conference, host a panel discussion on generational differences in communication, enlisting superstars from all ages to share their insights on how they bridge the gap.

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