Real Estate Marketing to Millennials: Should You Care?
By Andrew Rapp
About Inbound Marketing
In the past year you’ve probably heard a lot about “Millennials,” especially if you aren’t one yourself. Moreover, you’ve probably heard a lot about their impact on the housing market and how you should address them in your real estate marketing. But hot topics in the real estate industry come and go: Is this a trend you should care about? After all, opinions are still split about whether Millennials will be a boon or bust for the housing market.
Millennials, like baby boomers or Gen X, don’t have a single definition, but they are typically considered to be people born between 1980 and the late 1990s. Like the generations before them, Millennials have come to be defined by the unique experiences they’ve had, behaviors they share, and values they hold. They came of age during the Great Recession, are addicted to technology, and are less materialistic than their elders — the list of things that supposedly make Millennials special goes on and on.
The question for real estate agents is which of these traits matter when marketing and selling to Millennials, and how they should be addressed. If you want to make your business Millennial-friendly or wonder whether you need to even bother, here’s some tips on getting started.
Are you out of touch?
First, you need to figure out whether you’re in sync with Millennials. Remember, even though generations are loosely defined by birth year, what really matters is whether you share the traits of the group. After all, not every baby boomer attended Woodstock, just as not every Millennial spends all day texting. You can be older, but still be like Millennials, or you can be of Millennial age, but nothing like your peers.
“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
— Betty Friedan
From the survey you’ll quickly discover that, among the multitude of traits that set Millennials apart, three basic themes emerge:
1) Millennials typically have been slower to make major life transitions. They stay in school longer, live at home longer, and get married later.
2) Millennials’ finances have been deeply influenced by the Great Recession. They are fiscally cautious, delayed in their careers by the weak job market, and less interested in financial success.
3) Millennials embrace technology. They grew up on the Internet and take to new technologies as readily as previous generations were enchanted by television or radio.
Use those guidelines to assess whether you are in tune with potential Millennial home buyers and sellers. If you got married and started your career before the age of 25, and still have a flip phone, you’ll probably have your work cut out for you when relating to Millennials.
Are Millennials your target?
Once you’ve determined whether you’re in step with Millennials, it’s time to ask yourself whether it even matters to you. No agent can be all things to all people, so it’s entirely possible you don’t want to chase the Millennial market.
Take a look at your existing customer base, and think about who your future customers are likely to be. Because Millennials have been slow to enter adulthood, and the housing market, they are likely to be first-time buyers. With their career struggles and modest financial aspirations, they’re also likely to bypass large, showy suburban homes.
However, there are agents who should definitely take advantage of this market segment. If your business is largely composed of first-time buyers, it’s not in your best interest to ignore the Millennial market. And, if you’re a Millennial yourself, you shouldn’t miss out on a big opportunity to capitalize on this niche. Your affinity with these buyers can give you a huge edge.
Though at 33 years old she’s on the cusp of being a Millennial, Margaux Pelegrin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach REALTORS in Philadelphia, PA, says it gives her a leg up. “I do find my age makes it easier to connect with Millennial buyers & sellers because I am naturally more exposed to them — whether it’s professionally or socially,” says Pelegrin.
Relating to (and reaching) Millennials.
If you do decide to target Millennials, you may have to learn some new tricks. Their love of technology means this group has different tactics for choosing an agent.
First and foremost, accept the fact that calling or emailing you will be the last thing they do in their search for an agent. That contact will only come after they’ve thoroughly checked out your website, your social media accounts, and your online reviews. If you’ve always relied on your charming phone demeanor to seal the deal, you’ll be way too late to the game.
Your best learning will come from acting like a Millennial would. Start by searching for your name on Google. Even better, do a search for “the name of your town + homes for sale.” If you don’t come up in the results, it’s time to update your information using Google My Business.
If you do come up in the search, click through your site and see how useful and appealing it is. Does it have an attractive design? Is it optimized for mobile viewing? Does it have useful information in the form of a blog or other meaningful content? Do you include links to social media, reviews, or other places with user-generated content they will trust?
It’s easy to get lost in your own marketing efforts and forget to stand back and act like the customer for a moment. But that’s the best way to evaluate how well you’re communicating, particularly to a unique group like Millennials.
So take a minute today (especially if you’re older than 30) and act like a youngster again. Try being a Millennial yourself and take a hard look at your own marketing efforts. You might be surprised by what you find.
Learn more about creative ways of marketing to your target audience with our post on 9 Alternative Marketing Tactics for Real Estate Agents.
Do you have experience working with Millennial buyers or sellers? Share your views below.
Published on July 30, 2014
Written by Andrew Rapp
I'm the Managing Editor at Placester, where I oversee the creation of great content that helps real estate agents be successful in their careers. When I'm not clacking away at my laptop I enjoy walking all around the great city of Boston.