Over the past few years, millennials (generally regarded as those born between 1981 and 1996) have become the largest and most important demographic group for marketing products and services – including homes. What separates millennials from older buyers – even those not much older than themselves – is their comfort with using technology and online resources to a much greater extent, and their prioritizing of more 'experiential' living.
Changing How Things Get Done
“The biggest challenge of working with younger buyers,” says Meri Galstian, a broker with MyBostonCondo.com, “is often that they will do their own research before they come to a realtor. They have so much technology and information at their disposal that working with a realtor is something many don’t realize has added value. They show up with more knowledge generally than older buyers, but once they come in to meet with us, that often changes. They’ve done their homework, [and] the upside of that is they have a handle on what’s out there – but at the same time, there is a lot of inaccurate and unreliable information on the Internet.”
Nicole Hay, an agent with New York brokerage firm Halstead, concurs. “Most of the time, millennials are very aware of what’s on the market,” she says, “because they are always on the web. Sometimes my clients will see something and send it to me and ask me what I think of it. It’s a different kind of client relationship. There’s a lot more back-and-forth conversation going on, usually though text.” Communications are now all day, not just from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. She usually makes herself available 24/7. “I get texts at 11:30 p.m. from younger clients; the older generation doesn’t do that. The days of communicating by phone are behind us.”
Galstian describes a similar situation. “The communication is more casual, less formal,” she says. “ The pace changes. It’s 24/7 with millennials. Responding in real time – not by email – is important. That's easier for me, because I am a millennial. Many younger people relate to me because we are the same age. Older brokers find it difficult to adapt to millennial habits, like texting at midnight. Older buyers email, younger buyers text. Younger clients require more constant communication.”
Hay also uses social media – primarily Instagram – to market her listings. She lists apartments on the social media network, has conducted virtual tours, and has sold properties to her followers on the platform. She has also used FaceTime to show apartments (at least for a first look) when busy young clients can’t get to the unit in person but want to see it immediately. Hay says this has really worked for her. “Younger buyers are very dependent on their cellphones, and respond right away. This works well because it’s a great way to get an instantaneous response.”