A REALTOR®’s Guide to Working With Gen Z and Millennials
Whether you’re selling hamburgers, shoes or houses, to make a sale you need to know your customer.
In real estate, that means knowing your potential client base. And right now, Gen Z and Millennials make up a big part of that base.
Millennials, frequently defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, make up about 27% of Canada’s population.
On their heels, Gen Z comprises anyone born between 1997 and 2012. In Canada, most sources say Gen Z represents somewhere around 20% of the population.
In other words — these are two demographic groups you can’t ignore! The youngest Millennials and oldest Gen Z-ers are entering their buying years; older Millennials are already there.
So how do you sell real estate to Gen Z and Millennials? Well, you begin by learning a bit about them. Their preferences, priorities, obstacles, and communication styles. Once you know them, you can start marketing to them. And then selling to them.
This blog post is a great place to start. This is a REALTOR®’s guide to working with Gen Z and Millennials.
Of course, no buyer is the same. What someone is looking for in a home will depend on their unique circumstance: their interests, hobbies, job and lifestyle.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t look to trends to get a sense of what different real estate clients are looking for when it comes to buying a home.
For younger buyers, the biggest priority when it comes to housing is often location. They want to be close to a vibrant dining, entertainment and cultural scene, and they want non-commuting proximity to their jobs.
That may still be true for the youngest of Millennials, who are hovering around 25 years old. But the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the location-location-location priority. Many North American cities have seen an exodus during the pandemic, as city-dwellers seek more space and fresh air, and are able to work remotely.
It’s also important to note that this generation has gotten a lot older since the last time we spoke about selling real estate to Millennials. Older Millennials are in their mid- to late 30s. They’ve settled down, had kids, moved ahead in their careers. Living in the coolest neighbourhood doesn’t matter to them as much as it once did.
Gen Z is just starting to enter the real estate market. Location is (almost) everything. They don’t want to commute. They want proximity to a cool neighbourhood or scene, but they might be wary if that means a high price tag for a tiny footprint.
Some surveys reveal that living in a diverse community is a priority for Gen Z, as well as the ability for customization. Gen Z wants a space that truly feels like theirs; cookie-cutter may not cut it.
You need to be the expert on the truly cool and/or up-and-coming neighbourhoods. But you also need to be able to offer insight into the neighbourhoods and areas that will offer more space without sacrificing the vibrancy and diversity of urban centres.
Millennials who successfully entered the real estate market years ago may find themselves stuck when it comes to levelling up. They want more space, but can they afford it? It may mean a big tradeoff when it comes to location.
Other Millennials who weren’t ready to buy years ago might find themselves priced out of some markets now that they are ready to make a purchase.
Student debt may be a big issue for Gen Z-ers. And having seen what generations before them have experienced, they may be wary of taking on more debt to buy a home.
Gen Z is also entering the market in a time of stricter lending rules. It may be harder for them to successfully get a mortgage than it was for older Millennials when they first entered the market.
You need to know exactly what these groups are up against so you can lead with empathy (in your marketing and in your services) and offer expert advice based on those realities. Avoid being idealistic; being empathetic, realistic and strategic is how you’ll earn trust.
Millennial buying behaviour has likely changed as this generation has firmly entered adulthood. They have more purchasing power and are a huge spending engine.
But they don’t spend willy-nilly. Making informed purchasing decisions is incredibly important to Millennials; taking the time to research, read reviews and consult with friends is a big part of their buying behaviour.
Millennials also tend to be skeptical. Trust and authenticity are important factors when it comes to what to buy and from whom.
Gen Z is the first entire generation to grow up with the internet as something that has always existed. Wireless internet, smartphones, social media, apps, so on and so forth. That plays a big role in their buying behaviours.
They shop from a variety of sources and channels. They research. They look for influence, both from official “influencers” but also from regular people and from their own circles. They seek out and collect inspiration.
But while Gen Z may look for external sources of inspiration when it comes to purchasing decisions, they also want to spend money on things that they feel are unique (or can be customized) and that have value, whether it’s monetary, symbolic, environmental or cultural. Like Millennials, authenticity matters to Gen Z.
Authenticity, values and reputation matter. Take the time to build a strong real estate website and web presence that clearly communicate your values as an agent and the uniqueness of what you offer. Testimonials and social proof are essential.
Millennials and Gen Z
Both generations are digital-first; to sell real estate to Millennials and Gen Z, you need to embrace a digital-first communication style.
Email and text reign supreme over phone calls. These generations want quick, easy and fairly anonymous ways of reaching out and staying in touch.
Communicating with Millennial and Gen Z real estate clients over social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat may feel like a way to meet these generations on their level, but they might feel like it’s invasive.
When it comes to marketing, you need to be easily discoverable and easily reachable online. Make sure your email address is available. Encourage Instagram direct messages (and make sure you reply). Send quick updates and invites by text; share longer notes, ideas and questions by email. If you need a phone call, text them about it first.
Do you adjust your marketing tactics to reach younger generations?