Contrary to what you might have heard, Millennials aren’t residing in apartments forever. In fact, according to the "Zillow Group Report on Housing Trends," about half of all homeowners are below the age of 36, and as reported by Robb Report, research from the National Association of REALTORS® found that 57 percent of those buyers are purchasing homes in the suburbs, with an additional 15 and 16 percent buying in small towns and urban areas, respectively.
For real estate agents, this can mean only one thing: Reaching Millennial buyers has just become priority No. 1.
What Millennials Want
Millennials grew up hearing tales of the American Dream, and now, they’re reclaiming it to fit their needs. For example, most think long term when house hunting. Rather than purchase a low-priced, entry-level home, young buyers are looking for properties that may stretch their budgets initially but will fit their needs for at least a decade. Once they're ready to begin the search, they look for an agent who will step up and meet their expectations.
Of course, every individual is different, but after spending the better part of an afternoon interviewing the Millennial agents and staff that work in our office, I uncovered a few common themes.
- Millennials want an agent who is experienced and informed — someone who’s able to deliver on promises.
- Follow-through is also crucial because when it comes to buying a house, Millennials aren't messing around. They require an agent who can successfully close on their dream home as quickly as possible.
- Finally, they are unwilling to sacrifice ethics for efficiency, so agents must work to communicate and live out their high ethical standards.
How to Become a Millennial's Dream Agent
According to the previously cited Robb Report article, though more than 90 percent of Millennials will start their home search online, 70 percent will end up working with a traditional real estate agent. So you need to ensure your online presence is polished and authentic to draw potential clients in from the get-go. To best attract Millennial house hunters online, follow these tips:
1. Watch your ratings.
Millennials strongly value customer ratings, so whether it’s Yelp, Google, or Zillow, your ratings have the power to make or break your future with this generation. Ask your currently satisfied customers whether they’d be willing to post a review for you, and check your other reviews regularly. If you find negative comments accompanied by low ratings, do your best to address the critic's issues in a respectful way.
2. Take full advantage of social media.
It's no secret that social media is important to Millennials, but many agents don't know how to leverage it to its fullest potential. For instance, Instagram now allows you to add up to 10 pictures in one post. Utilize that feature by posting albums of new listings or sharing pictures of the interiors of certain properties. This way, followers can swipe through the pictures quickly.
3. Sell the neighborhood.
People’s homes don’t exist in a vacuum, impervious to the surrounding area. So it makes sense that Millennial buyers will want information on nearby amenities — from coffee shops and trailheads to gyms and grocery stores. In your online listings, communicate how far they will be from sporting events and comment on the quality of the local schools. Make sure to include visuals as well. Adding drone shots of the neighborhood will dress up your posts and impress tech-savvy Millennials.
4. Offer information without a catch.
Millennials have come to expect a certain level of quality in their online experiences. So make sure your webpage is intuitive, informative, and accessible. It should also be optimized for mobile browsers. If your website takes too long to load or it’s too hard to navigate, Millennials will be quick to move on to your competitors. Additionally, don't require visitors to provide contact information before they can see property listings. You have to earn the right to ask for their personal information by providing free, valuable content upfront.
5. Provide testimonials.
Potential clients who haven't received a personal referral will likely supplement their research with testimonials. Include verified testimonials on home listings when you can, but also post them on your website, third-party websites, and printed materials.
At the end of the day, Millennials, like every generation before them, simply want to work with someone they know, like, and trust. They hope to enjoy the process of buying a home and work with capable, competent professionals. All you have to do is show them you’re a knowledgeable, trusted resource, and you’ll secure your future with Millennial clients.
Jeff Thompson is managing partner at Windermere Group One. WGO is a member of Windermere Real Estate, a real estate network comprised of 300 offices and more than 6,000 agents throughout the western United States. Jeff is truly passionate about helping build companies by building their people. He leverages his 25-plus years of experience in real estate to coach other managers and brokers. Jeff credits much of his success to hard work and a willingness to partner with good people.