Millennials represent the largest generation in history, now accounting for over 80 million adults in the U.S. While much of the news surrounding millennial homebuyers entails discussion around the barriers this generation has had in entering the housing market, millennials have meanwhile quickly become the new majority of home purchasers. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, millennials make up two in three home purchases and represent 68 percent of first-time homebuyers.
This emerging majority is also demanding a change in the way mortgage and real estate professionals approach them. “We want the best, and we want it now” might be the motto of our generation. Brands across industries are being forced to adjust their marketing and sales strategies to reach this market segment. Millennials will literally accept nothing less. Having grown up with technology and information at our fingertips at all times, we have learned that there is always something better out there if you look for it long and hard enough, thus representing a new challenge to reach and maintain the new majority of consumers.
Mortgage companies have recognized this trend and the competitive nature of the new marketplace. Their focus is on updating technology and creating a more digitized marketing and customer service experience. The key with mortgage and real estate professionals is to understand the market segment’s key desires, which include access to information, convenience in communication, and authenticity with the consumer.
Here are a few trends mortgage companies are following to reach the millennial consumer:
1. Social media
Omg, hello! If we’re talking about millennials, we’re talking about social media. Millennials are often called the “social generation,” as we communicate not only over text but multiple social media sites and instant messaging platforms. Companies that want to reach millennials have a social media strategy that focuses on providing relevant information and an authentic voice.
Being a highly regulated environment, many mortgage companies are afraid to employ a social media strategy since they are legally mandated against posting information about rates or pricing. However, the successful ones are far from non-compliant. Millennials don’t want to hear about pricing on social media because we wouldn’t trust it anyway. We want to know what kind of brand you represent – authentic, honest, informative? Professionals should promote their brand as a trusted expert, not a salesperson.
2. Customer Service Training
Traditional marketing is dead in today’s world, and it’s all about customer loyalty. Millennials are your source of marketing. We will share the good and the bad with everyone, and we listen to customer reviews to make even the smallest of purchasing decisions. Therefore, customer service training is essential for companies to be successful with this generation.
In the mortgage world, the average age of a typical loan officer is late 40s to mid 50s, while the average age of a first-time homebuyer is 31. Due to the dramatic shift in consumer trends and preferences from the loan officer’s generation to that of their customer, the best mortgage companies are relying on training platforms to get their loan officers up to speed on the best customer-service tactics. Trainings may include information about how millennials and multicultural segments prefer to be communicated with, such as text messaging, and how they can employ an effective social media strategy to promote a better relationship with their customers.
Lastly, mortgage companies are purchasing or developing technology so that millennials can have more convenience and efficiency in the mortgage financing process. Such technology often includes an app or notification center so that consumers can check the status of their loan. Millennials strongly value transparency, so services that allow them to have access to understanding the process, improves customer satisfaction. We also strongly value immediacy, (as I’m often called out for my need for “immediate gratification”). Therefore, such benefits provide the immediate gratification of at least knowing where we are in the process. Secondly, companies are developing technology that improves the efficiency of taking a loan application so that consumers can upload their documents and seamlessly share those with their loan officers.
While many companies in mortgage and real estate have fallen behind in updating their marketing and service tactics to reach millennials, many are recognizing the immense opportunity in today’s market. For real estate professionals, this opportunity is even more apparent as they act as the primary source for home-buying guidance and information on the process. REALTORS® should develop a brand as a trusted resource to today’s modern homebuyer through transparent communication, convenient service, and information that empowers the consumer to make smart financial decisions.
Kristin Messerli is the founder and CEO of Cultural Outreach Solutions, which helps companies better reach and serve the next generation of multicultural consumers through training, workforce development, and business strategy. Kristin is currently rolling out a custom training and social media platform called the Cultural MAP to select companies in 2016. Click here to find out more information on how the MAP can position your company to be ready for the new millennium of homebuyers.