6 tips for working with those digitally-attuned, ever-connected Millennials (err, rather, young buyers)
It’s true. Millennials are dipping their toes in the housing market.
According to a just-released study from Realtor.com®, 52 percent of all homes in 2017 will be purchased by first-time home buyers, and 61 percent of those shoppers will be Millennials.
The generation that was stereotyped as living in their parents’ basement or hesitant to settle down seems to be ready to buy a place of their own.
For lenders and agents hoping to serve this emerging group of homebuyers, these six best practices will help you stand out.
- Be Internet famous
Referrals and word-of-mouth will always play a role in how clients find you, but as a group Millennials are likely to want to find their agent online and trust online reviews, so you have to be highly visible. Ericka Black, an agent with Central Properties in Washington, D.C., says most of her Millennial clients find her on Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com, and other major real estate websites. “I also have a company website profile and blog and frequently use social media.” Expanding your digital footprint to Instagram, Houzz, and anywhere you think your clients might be is important, she adds.
- Embrace technology
Millennials are tethered to their smartphones. “We usually pick up the phone and call our clients,” says Kelly Jo Choate, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Professionals in Port Huron, Michigan. “Well, don’t bother doing this with Millennials. Just text them.” Successful pros will use messaging and mapping apps, DocuSign, and other digital shortcuts to show they speak Millennial, she says.
- Be a resource
Even if Millennials seem to “know it all,” they can benefit from the expertise and local market knowledge agents and lenders have to offer, but you may need to convince them of this, Choate says. “They have grown up in a tech world, and may feel they can buy and sell completely online themselves. But when you demonstrate you can save them time and money, they will value that.”
At the same time you have to be careful not to micromanage, adds CJ Rader, lead buyer specialist at Koki & Associates, Inc. in Washington, D.C. “They’re going to use us as just one of their many resources, along with a massive amount of information they’ll be finding on their own through other websites, friends, and family.”
Read more: Top 5 housing markets attracting Millennials
- Be transparent
Millennials have embraced services like Uber that offer clear and upfront information on the cost of their ride and when the car will arrive. Sam Pawlitzki, an agent with Beach Cities Real Estate in Malibu, advises agents and lenders to be equally open about every step of the process — and to be authentic themselves. “Be honest, and most importantly be yourself. Millennials will sniff out the car salesman routine as soon as you start it,” he says.
- Stay open
Texting at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night will go a long way with earning their business, says Pawlitzki. That’s because Millennials are constantly connected — and they expect immediate interaction. “They make their minds up fast so when they are ready to move, take them very seriously and respond quickly and efficiently,” Rader advises.
- Don’t call them Millennials
Finally, one additional piece of advice comes from Pawlitzki, a Millennial himself, that illustrates the danger of categorizing people, “Most of us hate being called Millennials because the term has gotten a bad rep over the years. I would not recommend anyone ever calling a buyer a Millennial.”