Understanding Millennial Home Buyers

By: Kalpesh Rathod
Read time: 9 minutes
Jan. 23, 2017

Have they been dealt a bad hand?

By now we've all heard about Millennials. Born between 1980 and 2000, they are said to be entitled, self-interested, narcissistic, unfocused and tough to work with. The reality is Millennials are the youngest generation and according to the Pew Research Center, the largest living generation in the United States.

This new generation makes up a third of the total population of the US and without a doubt has the weakest spending power, through no fault of their own.

Understanding who they are and how they think is critical to your success as a Realtor. Millennials consider themselves to have been dealt a bad hand, which is not untrue. Simon Sinek does a brilliant job explaining why this young generation has been dealt a bad hand. From failed parenting strategies to instant gratification needs, Simon outlines four characteristics that explain the 'Millennial effect' on an episode of Inside Quest:

Realtor Tip:

"Technology addicted millennials lack deep meaningful realationships. Make time to meet in person & build a relationship with them."

Do they care about home ownership?

Most of these 20-35-year-olds came into the job market during the Great Recession and we're told they are sinking in student loan debt. It is, therefore, no wonder that the 20 percent customary down payment before owning a home is an intimidating obstacle for them. However as Kristin Messerli points out in an interview on Selling to Millennial Homebuyers with the MortgageCoach, student loan debt of less than $50,000 has no meaningful impact on home ownership. Here's a short 45 second clip that explains why. If you have more time the entire interview is about an hour long and covers a number of Millennial home buyer issues.

Realtor Tip:

"81% of Millennials have less than $50K in student debt. Take the time to ask which side your client belongs to."

Thankfully, millennials are becoming more enthusiastic when it comes to owning a home. Statistics from the National Association of Realtors show that this new generation makes up for 32 percent of the total number of buyers, followed closely by Generation X who make up for 27 percent.

In fact, many pundits are calling for first time Millennial home buyers to boost the overall housing market in 2017. Dan Moyle at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage does a nice job talking through the key points supporting this notion in this 90 second clip:

Realtor Tip:

"There's pent-up demand from Millennials, but don't try to sell them on the American Dream home."

How to Communicate with Millennials?

Dealing with Millennials requires a wholly different kind of approach. Already, when you consider the fact that this generation is more tech savvy than any other generation, you'll realize that they are not your typical kind of client. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when working with them:

  • Millennial Clients Come Prepared
  • These so-called digital natives are exceptionally good at doing their research online before coming out to meet the real estate agent. Rest assured they will be prepared with information concerning the neighborhood, the type of house they are looking for and even their financing options.

  • Millennials Just Want the Facts
  • One thing that can be said about millennials is that they are not fond of sugar-coated facts. Remember, most millennials are already on tight budgets. Help them understand exactly why they would be better off buying home A instead of home B. Stick to the facts, they definitely do not want someone that comes across 'salesy'.

  • They Expect You to be Tech Savvy
  • When communicating with millennial clients, always remember fewer calls, more texts. If a matter can be resolved through texting then by all means text. Calling is perceived as intrusive and something that should be designated for communicating urgent information only. Also, you should aim to respond to a text message within the hour you receive it. It will put your clients' minds at ease knowing that you are always available.

Realtor Tip:

"Text, Whatsapp or Snapchat. Don't be afraid to try new ways to communicate with Millennials."

What do Millennials Want?

Like every generation before them, the Millennials have distinct preferences when it comes to what they want in a home. Here is a quick checklist:

  • Small Houses but with Quality Finishing
  • Millennials are minimalists. It is very rare to find them gunning for the grandiose types of homes. Instead they prefer a little, versatile space with impeccable finishing.

  • Open Spaces
  • Unlike traditional homeowners, this new generation prioritizes customizability and the versatility of a home more than anything. Other than the four walls and roof, they prefer houses with open spaces: kitchens that open up to dining and living rooms, bedrooms without walls, etc. Their main aim is to create, not conform to what has already been built.

  • Low Maintenance and High Efficiency
  • Your millennial clients want something quaint and easily manageable. A small yard is preferable to acres of space. They are also very keen on energy-efficient homes which will afford them cheaper heating and cooling costs..

  • Comfortable Sleeping and Lounging Areas
  • The lusher the living room, lounge and bedrooms look, the more likely a millennial client will be to purchase that house.

Upgrade your Real Estate Game

Keep up with the times, the most important thing to do in order to attract more millennial clients is to develop a strong online presence. Tomorrow's Top Producers are going to be paperless, re-think your systems and tools to ensure a successful career for years to come.

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