How To Reach the Millennial Real Estate Buying Market
Tired of reading headlines about millennials? We hear you.
From avocado toast to selfies, the cycle of news stories about the aged-22-to-36 crowd is seemingly endless.
But there’s a good reason why we can’t stop talking about this generational group.
Millennials are the largest generation in North America.
Why should that matter to you, the REALTOR®? It’s simple.
The largest generation = the largest market.
In the past, the millennial population might’ve been an optional real estate niche. Not anymore.
To capture a chunk of the largest population, you need to know how to reach them.
Let’s dive into the most crucial tips for marketing to millennial home buyers.
1. Understand Their Challenges and Opportunities
Maybe you ARE a millennial. Maybe you’re not. Either way, you need a firm grasp on the realities that millennials face in the housing market.
• Millennials have less buying power. In many parts of the country, but especially in large urban centres, housing markets have radically changed. Home values have skyrocketed, but salaries haven’t kept pace.
Plus, many millennials graduated from college and university during or around the 2008 recession; finding meaningful employment may have taken longer, resulting in debt and/or an inability to save.
What you need to know: Millennial buyers may feel dejected, frustrated and even resentful about their position in the market. They need to be given both hope and realism.
• Millennials face a harder time getting a mortgage. As of 2018, Canadians getting or renewing/refinancing a mortgage have to pass a “stress test” to prove that they could stay above water if interest rates rose.
That, combined with the fact that millennials may have precarious employment or be self-employed, debt and a smaller savings pool, can make it harder for millennials than baby boomers to get a mortgage.
What you need to know: It may take millennials longer to successfully obtain a mortgage, and it could be a frustrating process. They need expert advice that doesn’t jeopardize their financial well-being.
• Millennials may be receiving help from mom and dad. The “bank of mom and dad” might be chipping in to help millennial buyers afford a downpayment.
What you need to know: They might be embarrassed about needing help. Or maybe they’re grateful, but want to retain independence when it comes to deciding what to buy and where. Don’t assume anything.
• Millennials may be venturing off the beaten path. Many millennials may want to pursue the detached home dream at all costs. But others might be interested in different home ownership opportunities, such as renting in the city and buying a property in a smaller, more affordable market. Or going in on a house with friends.
What you need to know: Millennials may be open to creative possibilities.
2. Recognize Their Values and Place in History
Every generation is different, but the differences between Gen X and boomers — who you might be used to working with — and millennials are pretty significant. Factor in things like the advent of the Internet, smartphones, climate change, #MeToo, and other major occurrences.
To succeed at reaching millennials, real estate agents need to be sensitive to their uniqueness and to their place in history.
Sure, millennials don’t remember the housing crash of the late ‘80s, but they do remember the pains of the 2008 recession.
Millennials may also value things like environmental-friendliness and work-life balance more (or differently) than other generations.
Those values might parlay into different preferences when it comes to real estate.
When it comes to marketing to millennials, don’t try to make a cheesy connection to their age group (no Drake references, please), but do show sensitivity to their uniqueness and make connections to their values.
3. Be Online First, Always
Millennials either grew up with the Internet, or entered young adulthood with it.
It’s second nature. It’s where they consume nearly all content (according to Nielsen, 36% of millennials only consume news in digital formats), including the results of their research into the housing market and local real estate agents.
Your millennial-specific marketing efforts need to start online.
Millennials are going to Google you and quickly devour all available content about you — your website, your social media accounts, any and every link that mentions your name.
You need to be feeding their hunger for content by:
• Writing blog posts. On topics that millennials want and need information about. For instance: “How to Buy Your First House When It Seems Impossible.”
• Being consistent and active on social media. If a millennial finds your mostly inactive Twitter account, they might get the sense that maybe you’re a mostly inactive real estate agent.
Choose the right social media platforms to focus on, use them often and use them well.
• Having (lots of) testimonials. Millennials love social proof. They want to hear about other people’s experiences before signing up.
Give them what they want. Include testimonials on your website and ask clients to leave you reviews on Yelp, Google and Facebook.
4. Mirror Their Habits
We know millennials. We work with millennials. Some of us are millennials.
So trust us when we say this about millennials: most of the time, they’d prefer an online interaction than a phone call or surprise knock-on-the-door.
For the best results when trying to reach millennials, follow their lead. Here’s what that might look like:
• Don’t follow up by phone. If your website contact form asks for an email address and a phone number when a visitor wants to get in touch, use the email address for your follow-up. If they start the interaction with a phone call, then proceed by phone.
• Make it easy for them to connect online. Give millennials options for reaching you online. Include your email address on your website. Make it clear in your social media bios that they can send you a direct message. Use real estate chatbots for 24/7 replies.
• Be prompt. Millennials are used to lightning-fast response times. Respond to their messages ASAP.
Do you have specific strategies for reaching millennials, Gen X or baby boomers?