Refine your marketing message to different generations of sellers

It seems that Millennials and Gen X’ers can’t wait to get their hands on the latest gadgetry. Their older counterparts, on the other hand, prefer something more tangible. This is not to suggest that people under 40 are antisocial and Baby Boomers are luddites. When it comes to farming for listings, it all comes down to building relationships with all generations of sellers.

Internet searches have become common among all age groups, but most agents are tuned in to the power and importance of all the relevant marketing channels. People are still people; few of us will admit it, but often in our busy lives we are compelled into action by what’s right in front of us.

For example, a strategic Facebook campaign may reach sellers at night while they peruse their feed, or a direct mail print publication may catch the eye of a seller during a morning cup of coffee. As people, it’s these moments that matter the most – moments which can double as powerful marketing opportunities for agents that know how to leverage them.

So in thinking about what to communicate to your generation of potential sellers, keep in mind also how you will communicate it. In the spirit of reaching the broadest audience, many agents farm with direct mail publications or newsletters, in addition to the myriad of online channels available today.

A recently released study by the National Association of Realtors®, “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” offers a detailed glimpse into what motivates sellers of different ages. Let’s take a look.


Millennials – also known as Gen Y or Gen Next – were born between 1980 and 1995. Feeling secure enough to own their own homes, the mid-30s-and-under crowd comprises the largest share of first-time homebuyers (at over 75 percent). Soon, Millennials will become the largest group of sellers, too, as their families grow and their needs change.

Message Matters: Marketing to Different Generations of SellersWith a median income of $73,600, as buyers 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.

As sellers, this age group is the most likely to turn to online options (especially if they haven’t sold a home before, and aren’t tuned in to everything that could go wrong). These folks use the internet and mobile devices more frequently than others (followed by Gen X’ers) to research the process of selling. Their choice regarding a real estate agent will most likely come from friends, neighbors, or relatives – that is, if they opt for an agent at all. What matters most to them is an agent who is honest and trustworthy.

In targeting millennial sellers, the take-aways for agents is to clearly communicate a value proposition  that blows online alternatives out of the water. Market with content, not sales pitches. Show, rather than tell, that you can be trusted and that you will provide more value than internet brokers or a less-experienced agent they may be referred to. Keep in mind that most often, this is the first home your Millennial prospect has ever sold.

Generation X

Gen-Xers – those born between 1965 and 1979 – also consider homeownership important, though they are more often motivated to buy or sell a house because of job relocation or a growing family that might simply need more space. A growing trend among Gen-X is “multi-generational” living; selling a traditional family home for a larger one that can accommodate an aging parent.

While the median income for this age group is $98,200, they probably are knee-deep in raising a family and paying off all the debt they have amassed; so they too, like Millennials, are willing to make personal sacrifices to when the need to move arises. A few non-negotiables most Gen-Xers desire are good schools, parks and local activities, as well as a garden and a garage. The gourmet kitchen, extra bathroom, and hardwood floors are bonuses that they want but would be willing to forego.

Gen X also does much of their research online. Although they may be tempted to go with a referral agent or an online broker, many have sold at least one home and understand just how important a skilled agent is.

When marketing to Gen-X sellers, the most important thing is to just be consistent. These sellers are a lot less naïve about what a home sale entails. Messages that underscore your experience and your results will make an impact, if delivered over and over again.

Baby Boomers

There are younger Boomers (born 1955-64) and older Boomers (born 1946-54). Together they comprise 30 percent of the buyer market but currently they are selling more homes than Millennials. Boomers earn median incomes of $95,400 and $81,100, respectively.

They generally plan to remain in their home for 20 years, and are less willing to compromise than are Millennials and Gen-Xers. Primary concerns include proximity to friends, family, shopping and health facilities.

Older Boomers are looking toward retirement and often what prompts them to sell is the desire for a smaller home. Many – already familiar with the thrill of home ownership but weary of mowing lawns, replacing windows, cleaning pools and shoveling sidewalks – will find renting more appealing once their home is sold.

Young Boomers might choose to sell their home and team up with their children to buy a larger house. In fact, Boomers more likely than any other age group to have a multi-generational household and share their home with their children and grandchildren – and sometimes their parents, too.

Boomers are more likely than any other group to rely on a real estate agent for their sale. They have, on average, sold more than two homes, and are simply unwilling to endure any hassles. They are unlikely to trust online brokers or inexperienced agents – even if that agent is referred by a friend or family member. They want an agent with a solid reputation and extensive knowledge of their neighborhood.

If your farm contains a good number of Boomers, the key message should be about your experience and market insights. Publishing stats about housing market performance, for example, will get attention and send a message of expertise.

Keep it simple!

People of all ages like to deal with someone who is professional, direct and helpful. Days are long and attention spans are short. It’s important to know what generations your prospects belong to, and adjust your messaging accordingly. A multi-faceted approach to marketing and lead generation is the most efficient way to reach a diverse population, but don’t over-think it.

Be consistent with whatever mediums you use, be authentic, and keep in mind what all generations have in common: they want to trust you, they want an expert, and at the end of the day they want a successful home sale.

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