It’s easy to pigeonhole a group when so much has been written about them, and millennials are no different. As the current “It” generation, many in real estate thought they had these 18–34-year-olds pegged as renters who seek trendy urban neighborhoods and would rather engage with an app than with a real person. But that persona couldn’t be farther from reality. The Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends debunks several myths about the often misunderstood millennial. Knowing how they think can help you attract more of their business.
Here are five surprising truths real estate agents should know about millennials.
1. They are the largest group of home buyers
Despite holding off on many typical life milestones, like finishing their education, getting married or having babies, millennials are still jumping into homeownership: They dominate the share of home buyers at 42 percent.
And while 57 percent of millennials under 25 consider their homes more as a reflection of themselves than a financial investment, most millennials overall (67 percent) consider owning a home as essential to living the American dream — much like their parents and grandparents.
Pro tip: Do your homework about who this generation of buyers is and readjust your marketing approach with strategies and tactics that resonate with them.
2. They really do prefer the suburbs
Think millennials are die-hard city dwellers? Think again: nearly half (47 percent) live in suburban areas and only a third (33 percent) opt for urban settings. More than half the members of this generation (55 percent) consider themselves involved in their neighborhoods and surrounding areas — more than any other generation, so it makes sense that 54 percent of millennials purchase homes in communities with shared amenities.
Pro tip: When identifying homes to tour with millennials, include the ‘burbs as well as planned communities, and condominium and townhouse complexes.
3. They want to talk to a real person
Although most millennials never knew a world without electronic communication, they’re remarkably old school when it comes to important conversations. When interacting with real estate agents or lenders, 30 percent prefer a phone call to a text message (16 percent), and 24 percent would rather meet in person than get an email from you (22 percent).
Pro tip: Remember that nothing replaces a live, real-time conversation.
4. They’re methodical
Millennials don’t take home buying lightly: Their decision to move is based more on objective investigation and analysis than on a gut feeling that the time is right. And they overcome their real estate inexperience by doing copious online research.
Born and raised in the digital age, millennials wield technology like a maestro. Nine out of 10 start their real estate search online; they use, on average, more than five online resources for their real estate needs. Eight in ten millennials use mobile devices or apps to learn what they don’t yet know and research real estate agents and lenders.
Millennials also reach out to more agents than any other generation — at least two agents when they’re buying a home and at least three when they sell. They go on more than four home tours, attend between two and three open houses, and make at least two offers before closing on a purchase.
Pro tip: Be thorough in guiding millennials through their real estate journey. Anticipate lots of questions and consider it an opportunity to demonstrate your industry knowledge.
5. They appreciate and reward your expertise
More than any other generation, millennials conduct due diligence when searching for the right agent: 61 percent read online customer reviews and 57 percent explore past sales history. They take their search offline, too: 61 percent ask their friends or family about their experiences with real estate agents before they choose one.
After they receive five-star service, more than half of millennials (55 percent) recommend their real estate agent to others and 26 percent leave an online review. For millennials, the relationship doesn’t end at closing: 40 percent of them stay in touch with their agent seeking professional advice about home improvements.
Pro tip: Remember to ask millennials — and all your clients, for that matter — to write you a review at the end of the transaction, no matter if it results in a closing or not. And always take the time to stay in touch: It’s too big a pool of potential referrers to ignore!
When you consider the millennials’ technology-influenced childhood — and reaching adulthood just in time to watch the housing market crash — it might be easier to understand where their meticulous approach to home buying comes from. There’s no big mystery to millennials; in many ways, their real estate journey parallels the one every generation takes. So while you might tweak your thinking about who millennials really are, the fundamentals of providing them great service never change.