We all know that the next generation of homebuyers is critical to replace the last generation if we’re going to keep growing the economy and our own real estate businesses.
NAR’s chief economist chalks this up to the student loan debt reaching oppressive levels with many millennials, as well as rising rents in competitive markets.
This makes a lot of sense, but unfortunately it’s nothing that we as real estate professionals and technologists can do much about (the rising rents one is a particularly annoying chicken/egg problem in itself).
But that dwindling “love affair” is a problem we can actually do something about. I’ve reflected on the disparity between consumer expectations of what the Internet can do for them and the the lack of online tools and resources available to first-time homebuyers that meet those expectations.
In a world where any household object can be summoned to appear on your doorstep the very next day, it’s absurd that the online experience of buying a home is stuck in the 1970s.
Millennials need to be wooed. They need to be shown that, despite their student loans, there’s a massive incentive for them to put money aside to buy, and there are large swaths of the millennial generation that are making far more money than their elders.
Yet, they tend to shy away from problems they can’t “Google” their way out of.
So, as professionals in the real estate industry, we need to cater to their expectations and help them find the resources online that can help. I’m no fan of technology for technology’s sake, but for a generation used to being engaged with online content and tools, it seems like we are missing a large opportunity by not delivering more tools for homebuyers beyond search.
The “it ain’t broke” argument won’t work anymore. These NAR stats show that, indeed, it is broke.
Some sites are doing a decent job of catering to this generation. Lifehacker, for example, provides handy resources to millennials to help them learn how to save up for and buy their first home. They’ve devoted an entire section to this kind of advice, called “Two Cents,” and I highly recommend it as a resource to send prospective buyers.
But these need not be disparate, external resources that buyers go to instead of talking to their real estate professional. There’s an opportunity here to collaborate, even earlier in the process.
By embracing the world of advice and resources that millennials already trust, agents can build a bond with these buyers early on. And that can separate a good agent from a mediocre one in the eyes of a tech-savvy millennial.
By speaking their language and meeting the expectations of what the experience of buying a house should be, we can help them fall in love with us — and with homebuying — again.
Jonathan Aizen is the founder and CEO of Amitree Inc., the developer of Closing Time, a tool to help homebuyers and their agents navigate the process of buying a home, organizing the dozens of tasks into an easy-to-understand checklist that is customized for each buyer’s unique situation.