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Not Your Mother's Real Estate Search

Not Your Mother's Real Estate Search

By: Darrin Friedman

Even 10 years ago, the average home buyer was not as young as buyers are today. According to NAR, nearly 40% of buyers are first-time home buyers, and Millennials (the generation born between 1995 and 1979) represent nearly 76% of that demographic. This new generation of real estate clients continues to drive the latest trends in how today's real estate professional needs to work and to market herself or himself.

Indeed, Millenials require more consideration, expect more attention, and demand a level of swift responsiveness that many REALTORS are not prepared to deliver.

But don't label the members of this generation as "selfish" or "high-maintenance." They are simply computer-age children who grew up in a high-tech world, and therefore they are used to being able to gather information much faster than their counterparts in previous generations.

In other words, Millenials want their information NOW. On their devices. In real time. Whether you can supply it or not. And if you cannot, you will no longer be representing them. After all, they have spent 9 months online researching other agents, and they can switch to one of them as fast as their thumbs can type a message.

But this does not have to be the case. Though Millennials are industrious and seek to gain information on their own, they are also aware of their own relative youth, and therefore many are quick to seek guidance from those in this industry who have years of experience under their belts.

That said, here are five tips on working with the Millennial home buyer, regardless of your own generational category:


1. Be in communication: You must be brutally honest about how you like to communicate and what your clients can expect from you in this regard. If you are not the best texter in the world but you check email several times a day, let them know that upfront. If you strongly prefer the phone and tend to convey information in lengthy voicemail messages, warn them of this habit. As long as you set the expectations, they should understand. Responsiveness is very important to them, but giving lip service to their preferred mode of communication and then not following through is a dreadful mistake. Just tell your client in the beginning how best to reach you, and then stick to that method.


2.  Understand their need to research: It has long been known that Millennials want to research and verify everything for themselves. Even though you may be the expert, they are not just going to take your word for it. Try not to let this frustrate you or make you feel that they don't trust you; just understand that, as a whole, this is how this generation is wired. Instead of acting offended, try to encourage their need for research by providing them with the URLs of websites that can help them with their analysis. They will be grateful for your candor, and that will increase their trust in you.


3. Be diplomatic with the parents: It is very likely that your client's parents will be involved in the purchase of a home in one way or another. Whether the parents are supporting their child monetarily, emotionally, or both, be prepared for the inevitable reality that parental opinions will influence this purchase. It's not easy trying to please everyone, but remember that you don't have to: ultimately the Millennial is your client, not his or her parents, and you must put the client's interest above all else. You may need to gently remind your client that their parents' advice, while obviously well intentioned, is sometimes based on outdated information or a different real estate market. You are the expert about your market and the present state of your industry; don't let your client forget that.


4. Never patronize: Hopefully this goes without saying, but you can NEVER afford to come across as condescending to this young but savvy group. Even if you are their parents' age, you are not their parent! Buying a home is a very adult responsibility, and your client is working hard to make it happen. Remind them what a momentous achievement this is, but keep their relatively young age out of it. Anyone who is lumped into a category can feel stereotyped; try not to do so with them.


5. Be yourself: Please, be yourself! Millenials don't expect you to act as if you are their age; they hired you because they want you to be who you are, with all of the wisdom that you've earned during your time in this industry. Just be you.