Doing Business with Millennials: Tips to Engage the Biggest Group of Home Buyers in History
Don’t be fooled by media portrayals of Millennials: Born between 1981 – 1996, this demographic of people represent the biggest generation in U.S. history. With an impressive headcount of 92 million, they are slated to be the biggest generational economic driver of all time. They’re taking advantage of the hot job market to advance in their careers, and earning more disposable income than ever. This, combined with an increasing desire to ditch the shared apartment and enter the housing market, is certain to result in a surge in home sales. While connecting with this group requires a gentle touch, our roadmap will help you better engage and be successful in gaining not only their trust, but their business as well.
The impact of Millennials
Let’s first look at the economic realities of the Millennial generation:
- More than 1/3 of the U.S. workforce are Millennials.
- Millennials are more educated than previous generations, with 1/3 of 25-34 year olds having undergraduate degrees. More than 25% work a side gig, and there is a growing trend among Millennials to enter various skilled trades.
- Since Millennials have delayed home buying longer than any previous generation, there is pent-up demand to jump into the housing market.
- Millennials make up about 34% of all home buyers.
- Female Millennials outpace males in terms of bachelor’s degrees.
- Millennials are, by far, the most ethnically diverse generation in American history. While 77% of all homeowners are white, for Millennials that number is 66%.
This group is — finally — growing up. Their path to maturity is a bit divergent from their parents’ generation, but they still want to build wealth and security. Homeownership is clearly a key element of that, and two key factors are driving this trend:
- Millennials are starting to get married, and according to Richard Green of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, “…marriage is the number one predictor of whether people buy homes.”
- The rising cost of rent in urban areas across the country has gotten out of hand and, according to Green, buying a home in a reasonably priced community is finally being recognized as a more attractive option than shelling out an exorbitant rent in a trendy part of a big city.
86% of Millennials would rather receive a text than a call.
The Millennial mindset
An issue for real estate professionals, is how to serve this unique group by getting them educated about real estate and into the market as buyers. Three key factors are important to understanding this group:
- Technology: To reach this group, you’ll need to meet them where they live: online. You should know that 75% of Millennials prefer texting over in-person communication, and 86% would rather receive a text than a call. They don’t check voicemails, but they are obsessive about their Twitter feed, Instagram posts, and Snapchat stories.
- Relatability: Millennials prize emotional intelligence, which for them is a combination of trust, understanding, and empathy. In a study by the Levo Institute, 80% of Millennials indicate that emotional intelligence is something they actively focus on in business-related relationships.
- Finances: This age group is shouldering massive amounts of college debt, which makes them fairly debt-averse and financially conservative. They have also been shaped by a green cultural shift and value sustainable and environmentally-friendly approaches to buying and living, often resulting in a “less is more” consumer attitude.
Making the connection
To effectively engage with and represent this age group and their real estate needs, there are some things you can do to make yourself stand apart from your competitors. These are not terribly complicated, but could potentially require a shift in some of your work habits and styles:
- Get digital: You must have a website, and it has to be simple, sleek, and user friendly; it’s just what Millennials have come to expect. It should be updated regularly — 75% of people in this group take a disliking to websites that are not dynamic nor up-to-date. One way to combat this is to change the featured listings on your homepage every few days, and to also blog about trends and topics that may not be specifically about buying a home, but are related. Tips for green landscaping or DIY home improvement projects would be good candidates.
- Get social: A study by the McCarthy Group discovered that 84% of Millennials don’t like traditional advertising. So what do they trust? Social media. You need active Twitter and Instagram accounts – and you have to make them interesting… not just about advertising your services. Millennials like a story, and the stories you tell in social media should be about the home buying experience, not just you trying to get their business. Make your content visual, which in theory should be fairly easy for the real estate industry. Pictures of houses are great, but if you add more detail and show the finer points of homes, yards, and neighborhoods, you’re surely get a nice boost in engagement.
- Get validated: Gartner says that 84% of Millennials are influenced by online reviews and comments. Make sure you’re getting your existing clients to write reviews for you on social media channels and recommendation websites
- Get connected: Text, don’t call. Send pictures of properties immediately through text; don’t wait until you can get back to the office and post them to your website. You want to demonstrate that you’re always working on their behalf as well as utilizing the technology and tools available to create a unique connection. When it’s time to deliver documents, use email rather than the U.S. Postal system.
We cannot escape the facts presented by demographics, and the reality of our world is that the Millennials and their new approach to the American Dream – which still includes home-ownership. If they can find a trusted, valued advisor who understands their unique needs, they’re going to be eager to engage and choose you to lead them in their journey.