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Editor’s note: This is the last of a two-part series. Read Part 1.
At Agent Reboot in New York City last month, real estate coach and trainer Travis Robertson outlined how Gen Y is reshaping the buying and selling experience to fit how they do business. Are you prepared to cope?
Suppose you’re at a party and a longtime friend introduces you to a Gen Y (millennial) attorney who has just relocated from New York to join their local firm. The attorney wants to buy a loft condo within walking distance of their firm, which just happens to be the area where you specialize. Will you be the agent who captures the business?
The answer to that question will probably be based upon what happens in the five minutes immediately following your introduction. If you haven’t done so already, search your own name on Google and see what turns up on the first page of the search.
That’s exactly what that young attorney did within seconds or even minutes of leaving you. He searched your name on Google to see if you would be a good fit. In fact, many will make the decision to work with you based upon what they find in that search.
If you haven’t embraced social and mobile and if your profile doesn’t show that you specialize in the downturn urban lifestyle, chances are that buyer will continue to search for someone who does meet those criteria.
In fact, Robertson argues that when a millennial (born between 1980 and 1995) reaches out to work with you, he has already checked you out thoroughly and has decided that you are the right agent for him. As Robertson says, “Don’t botch it up!”
On the other hand, millennials don’t make decisions in a vacuum. A recommendation from a friend or colleague often carries a great deal of weight with them in terms of their choice of agent.
I want someone who gets what I want
A major mistake that many older agents make is failing to pay attention to what matters to their millennial clients. As Robertson put it, they want an agent who “understands that I think differently and that I want things that are different from what they may want in their life. I also want an agent who uses the tools I use and understands how to communicate with me.”
Friends and family nearby
While baby boomers are comfortable living 20-30 miles from friends and family, the typical millennial stays within a radius of 10 miles. In fact, 65 percent say being near family is important in their purchase decision, while 67 percent cite being near friends as being important.
This matters because millennials want input from both family and friends, especially when they are making a major decision. As a result, don’t be surprised when four sets of parents (because their parents have divorced and remarried) and several carloads of friends show up to see the house they would like to buy.
Robertson advises that rather than being upset by this situation, look at it as just having been invited to meet the most important people in their personal sphere of influence. The millennial is telling you, “I trust you with my family and friends.”
Robertson also suggests that you immediately check out their friends on their Facebook page and friend them as well. If your buyers have a great experience with you, they will be posting about it to their Facebook friends. Since you have already met their friends and family face to face, this greatly increases the odds that these people will do business with you in the future.
Millennials value speed of communication over depth of communication. They won’t answer your phone calls because they fear being trapped on the phone in idle chitchat with their Realtor.
To address this issue, Robertson suggests that you ask your millennial clients, “How do you prefer me to communicate with you?”
He also suggests that you advise the client that there are times when a text or Facebook message won’t get the job done. Here’s what Robertson recommends that you say:
“There will be times when we can’t handle certain issues in a text message. If I call you, I need you to pick up the phone because it’s important. Is that cool with you?”
An important secret to working with millennials is to set their expectations upfront.
Embrace education marketing
Realtors are no longer the gatekeepers to listing information, but they are the interpreters. One of the most important roles you can play with a millennial buyer or seller is to help them to understand the processes involved throughout the transaction. Be a resource for where they can discover facts about the local lifestyle, what makes living in your area fun, as well as which properties are the best match for them based upon these factors. As Robertson puts it, “Our value is in being education providers.”
The percentage of millennials purchasing real estate will continue to increase as more people in this age group advance along their career path, get married and have children. If you plan to be in business for more than a few years from now, it’s time to take the steps to adjust your real estate business to better serve this burgeoning niche.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.