By Maria Patterson
It’s no surprise to Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, that home buying trends, consumer characteristics and needs, along with marketing and communication strategies surrounding the real estate market have evolved with exponential speed in the last few years. Chris has been an innovator within the real estate industry throughout her three-decade career and is keenly aware of how today’s current and potential homebuyers are exceedingly different from past generations. Given that the 103 million people who comprise the echo boomers—adults 18-35 years old—came of age during one of the most dramatic housing-market downturns in U.S. history, one would expect that this new wave of potential homebuyers would have a different view of homeownership compared to baby boomers and, consequently, be trepidatious about taking the proverbial plunge. But new, groundbreaking data from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate suggests that today’s and tomorrow’s homebuyers see the value and benefits of homeownership, and are approaching the process in a thoughtful, business-savvy way, thanks to easily accessible information and valuable lessons learned from housing industry events and trends of the past several years.
According to recently released national survey findings from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, 75 percent of echo boomers surveyed believe owning a home is a fundamental indicator of success. Those same respondents also believe they are more informed about homeownership than previous generations of buyers. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the next generation of American homeowners surveyed believe they have become increasingly knowledgeable about homeownership due to increased media coverage on real estate topics in the wake of the housing crisis.
“We built our brand knowing that today’s consumer is the most informed we’ve ever seen,” says Chris. “That simple fact shapes everything we do at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. These survey results reinforce that the future is here and the empowered consumer is the new normal for our industry. Our brand offers tools and training to equip our brokers and agents with the ability to provide a more sophisticated level of service. We hope the learnings from our survey will help the industry at large understand the steps we all need to take to help this new generation of homebuyers find success.”
A More Knowledgeable Consumer
At the age of 24, Drew Wagner chose Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Beach Company to assist him in buying a home in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
“Seeing how the economic crisis affected my friends and relatives made me approach homeownership in a very deliberate, measured way. I did my research and worked hard to understand all the implications—both positive and negative—to ensure that I would have the resources and insight to support my decision,” he says.
Miguel Berger, broker and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Tech Valley, has experienced firsthand the influx of a more knowledgeable consumer in upstate New York.
“Young homebuyers are very active in our real estate market right now,” explains Berger. “They know the proper questions to ask and have been researching the entire process, including agent selection, for three to four months before they even approach us.”
Contrary to how echo boomers are typically represented in the media, this next generation does not assume that homeownership will simply fall into their laps. The majority of survey respondents (71 percent) said that homeownership is not something they deserve; rather it is something they must earn. This has led young adults to carefully consider all of the implications of owning a home, including whether they are ready for the responsibility. Sixty-nine percent believe potential homeowners are ready for homeownership when they can afford to buy while also maintaining their lifestyle. For 61 percent of respondents, the “readiness indicator” is when they’ve landed a secure job. These statistics support Chris’s platform of the informed consumer, and help to debunk myths about the echo boomers as entitled consumers who want the quick win.
“It was important for me to feel ready,” adds Wagner. “I truly believe that buying a house is the ‘American Dream’ on many levels, including personally and financially, however, I needed to be sure I was capable of meeting the commitment and all that came with it—head on. Owning a home goes beyond the transaction—I had to be sure I was ready to maintain it, make it my own, and still enjoy the lifestyle I was used to. Once I felt ready, I looked forward to the process.”
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