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Generation Next

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By Sherry Chris, president and CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC

Millennials_Generation_NextMillennials. This one word brings with it a lot of clout. It represents an entire generation that has and continues to change the way most industries do business, and real estate is no exception. For many, this generation is intimidating. At nearly 80 million strong, it’s understandable. However, the key to serving this next generation consumer is to know who they are, what they want and what they expect from you. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has made it a priority to know the answers to these questions.

The Mindset
This is the generation that leases luxury cars and even rents luxury clothes. Do they care about owning anything? Our findings tell us that yes, in fact they do. According to a recent national Better Homes and Garden Real Estate survey of approximately 1,000 respondents ages 18-35, 75 percent of these Millennials believe that owning a home is the biggest indicator of success, ranking well above taking extravagant vacations or owning expensive cars and designer clothing. Furthermore, 40 percent of respondents are planning to invest in a home in the next 3-5 years. We have to understand that this generation came of age in one of largest housing market downturns our country has seen, and this has impacted the Millennial perspective on the entire process. While some see the Millennials as a generation of people finding themselves in far off countries and building relationships with 140 characters or less, we see them as cautious and calculated. For 61 percent of respondents, the “readiness indicator” is when they’ve landed a secure job, which we know isn’t as easy as it used to be. Sixty-nine percent believe someone is ready to own when they can afford to buy while maintaining their lifestyle. However, they are willing to adjust their lifestyle in the process of saving by eating out less, working a second job and moving back in with their parents.

What They Want
For Millennials, bigger does not mean better like it did for their Baby Boomer parents. In fact, they want to ensure every room in the home serves a purpose – exit the formal living and dining areas and enter media rooms and offices. They want their home to have character and be customized to meet their lifestyle needs. In that same vein of efficiencies, technology plays a major role in purchase power. When it comes to the next generation of homeowners, more than half (56 percent) of respondents believe home technology capabilities are more important than “curb appeal.” If a home is not up-to-date with the latest tech capabilities, 64 percent of Millennials surveyed would not consider living there. In addition, 84 percent of the younger Americans surveyed believe that technology is an absolute essential to have in their homes.

The Voice
To bolster its research, our the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network of brokers sat down with a group of recent Millennial homebuyers (none of whom had business relationships with the brand) to better understand what these consumers like and dislike in regard to the home-buying process. While all had varying experiences, both positive and negative, one thing was clear—they want their agent to tailor service to their needs. The ever-informed consumer is not a new term. While information is plentiful and they spend as much time as possible online before contacting an agent, they want their agent to know much more than they do as a buyer. Here are select tips generated from our research:

  • Listen: Understand consumers’ wants and needs. They don’t want their time wasted on being sent listings that go against their requests. And don’t call them if they prefer text messages. Establish expectations immediately.
  • Pictures: This generation is very visual. They want to see every aspect of a house online. Only a handful of pictures? They will likely scroll quickly onto the next listing.
  • Videos: Even better! Not just of the house, but of the neighborhood, testimonials from neighbors, even personal anecdotes from the sellers. Buying a home is more than simply understanding specs, and Millenials want to know it all!
  • Get Personal: “My agent was my therapist” was one of the best quotes we heard from a consumer interviewed. Provide guidance and do everything you can to get answers for your client. For example, if schools are the most important aspect of a community for a client, you may want to go as far as interviewing local principals for them.
  • Under Pressure: They do not react well to feeling pressured to make an offer. Instead, offer them tips to get their offer recognized. For example: Writing a personal note to the seller.
  • Get Creative: Understanding that Millennials look for tech amenities and functional space, here’s a tip for both buying and selling agents: Help your client envision the space. It’s as simple as placing tent cards in rooms to showcase where an extra television could be placed, or where a formal dining room could be transformed into a home office.
  • Lasting Impression: Millennials share—both the good and the bad. Think about how many links and comments are shared through social media and the web. Aside from that, Millennials seek support from their peers and share more than others even during in-person interactions. If you provide exceptional service, that client will likely work hard for you in terms of referrals. If not, you cannot count on them or their friends (whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or otherwise) to give you a chance.

We have the opportunity to win customers for life and to win their friends for life with the most knowingly connected and social generation to ever become home buyers and sellers. Recognize them. Understand them. And work relentlessly to best the serve them.

For more information, visit www.bhgrealestate.com.

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