How Real Estate Agents are targeting and selling to different generations of homebuyers
Before we dive into what we think is the right approach when dealing with different generations as an Agent, we’d like to give a word of caution. Be careful not to associate all people with a blanket “generational” bias based on their age. Rather, be aware of the biggest differences, but be tuned in to your prospects individual preferences. We can all agree that many Millennials and Gen X’ers can’t wait to get their hands on the latest gadgetry – but many are also a bit overwhelmed and burned out by yet anothet technology to fiddle with, learn, insure, and one day troubleshoot. Their older counterparts, on the other hand, may prefer something more tangible. And they also enjoy and appreciate the convenience of new technology after a lifetime of more tedious methods. With this article, we don’t want to imply that people under 40 are antisocial and Baby Boomers are luddites. Eventually, it all comes down to building relationships with all generations of homebuyers.
When someone curls up with something printed, he or she expects a direct benefit, whether it’s entertainment, information, or a combination of the two. When a couple begins looking for a home, no matter the generation, they tend to go online. But when someone begins looking for an Agent to represent them, that’s a whole new story. Relevance, of course, is relative. If you know who your clients are, you know what they need and how best to connect with them.
A study by the National Association of Realtors®, “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” offers a glimpse into what motivates homebuyers of a certain age.
Millennials – also known as Gen Y or Gen Next – were born between 1980 and 1995. Feeling secure enough to own their own homes, the 33-and-under crowd comprises the largest share of first-time homebuyers (at 76 percent).
With a median household income of $73,600, their decisions are affected by such factors as commute time and expense, local amenities and housing affordability. Millennials tend to buy older and previously owned houses, and are willing to make certain sacrifices for the sake of price and overall value.
This age group uses the internet and mobile devices more frequently than others (followed by Gen X’ers) to research the process of home buying. They often find online the home they eventually buy.
When millennials settle upon a real estate agent, the referrals usually come from friends, neighbors and relatives. What matters most to them is an agent who is honest and trustworthy.
Gen X’ers – those born between 1965 and 1979 – also consider homeownership important, though they are more often motivated to buy a house because of job relocation or a growing family.
While the median family income for this age group is about 20% higher than their younger counterparts at $98,200, they probably are still paying off student loans, credit card debt and car notes; so are also willing to make personal sacrifices to get the home they want. They definitely want good schools, parks and local activities, as well as a lawn a garage.
They do much of their research online, but count on a real estate agent who will help them find the best possible deal to meet their needs as a homebuyer.
There are younger Boomers (born 1955-64) and older Boomers (born 1946-54). Together they comprise 30 percent of homebuyers, with median household incomes of $95,400 and $81,100, respectively. Keep in mind that older Boomers may be widows and widowers, and their income is likely from securities, annuities, social security, and pensions. Older (and even younger) Boomers have substantially more wealth then the debt-loaded Gen X (and up-and-coming Gen Y). Remember, income is just what’s earned in a year, and does not represent home buying purchasing power. This group is also highly unlikely to be a first-time homebuyer, and the odds are good that they have quite a bit of equity in the home they are selling.
Boomers generally plan to remain in their home for 20 years, and are less willing to compromise than Millennials and Gen X’ers. Primary concerns include proximity to friends, family, shopping and health facilities.
Older Boomers are looking toward retirement and want a smaller home. And they want ranches. You know this, you probably work with many of them, all looking for the same easy-peasy-no-more-stairs-please lifestyle. For many, they are long past the honeymoon phase of home ownership. The kids are gone, and they’re sick of maintaining, cleaning, mowing, and paying to heat and cool empty rooms.
Some young Boomers might need a larger house, as are more likely than any other age group to have a multi-generational household and share their home with their parents and children over 18.
Boomers may begin their home search online, but they ultimately count on a real estate agent with a solid reputation and extensive knowledge of their neighborhood. They’ve simply been burned too many times – not just with home buying, but with all they’re life experiences – and they know that something as important as purchasing a home should be handled with care. This group is more likely to play 20 questions with a new Agent than a hopefully naive first-time home buying Millennial, so be prepared to talk about your experience in detail when going to meet a potential new Boomer client.
Days are long and attention spans are short; time and money are synonymous to a lot of people. If your community is like most – multi-generational – then your marketing strategy and selling approach should include everyone. This means email, social media, seminars, direct mail, and maybe some good old fashioned door knocking. It also means marketing with content that the community cares about, that will “expertise” you, not just testimonial Facebook posts and Just Sold postcards. Once a prospect is interested, it means meeting with them in person, and communicating with them according to the channels they best respond to. For younger folks, email and texting home matches makes sense. Even sharing them through Facebook. For older clients, email is probably sufficient, and a printed and mailed (or personally delivered) summary report would resonate well with the way they like to leaf through and organize Yes and No piles of potential homes. The bottom line: people of all ages like to deal with someone who is an expert in their field, respectful, honest, and helpful. Strategic multi-generational marketing just helps you communicate these timeless, universally desired traits.