At long last, the millennial generation has reached homebuying age. We’ve worked tirelessly to win over Generation X and baby boomers who value independence and hard work, but now it’s time to wow the next generation, a segment of the population that represents nearly 80 percent of first-time homebuyers.
As one of the biggest populations yet, millennials are characterized by their use of technology and their team-oriented mindset.
Millennials are entirely different from prior generations, but there are a few things all first-time homebuyers have in common, regardless of their age. They’re excited. They’re nervous. And they need an agent and service providers they can trust. So how do you provide millennials with the support they require and win a client for life? Be a team player. Here’s how:
Tip one: Be visible
Why: Millennials are highly connected to the Internet, to their mobile devices and to each other. Since grade school, they’ve been trained to work closely with peers and tap into available resources. That means when it comes to major decisions, like buying a home, they will lean on others for help. They’re going to ask friends and family for advice, and they’re also going to scour the Internet — including social media. So you need to make sure you have an online presence (and a good one). Go where the millennials are.
How: Start by Googling your name to see what comes up when prospective clients search for you. It’s important to understand your online persona so that you can begin to shape it. Control your online presence by building a website with clear and consistent messaging and make sure to highlight testimonials from happy clients. Once you’ve got your website how you want it, make sure it includes SEO (search engine optimization). You’ll want prospective buyers to be able to find your site with a basic search. It’s likely that millennials will start the homebuying process by checking out properties on large portals like Zillow and then work their way into local communities and outlets. That’s where your local agent site comes in handy. Once they’ve narrowed down their options, your site should act as a source of expertise on their area of interest. If a potential client can gain insight from your website, they’re more likely to reach out and select you as their agent.
Popular social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also necessary tools for achieving visibility. Be consistent across channels. Using the same image and messaging will make your brand easier to recognize and won’t confuse prospective clients when they’re doing their research. Use social media to present yourself as a thought leader in the industry. While posts about listings are important, make sure to take full advantage of these networks by also posting industry news that supports your brand and messaging. Additionally, make sure to network with other real estate professionals on social media. Doing so will show prospective clients that you are connected and will be an excellent resource throughout the home buying process.
Tip two: Build your team
Why: Millennials have been trained to work in teams. By the time they’re ready to buy a house, they’ve likely labored over hundreds of group projects in school and at work. And there’s no doubt that this generation’s affinity for teamwork will affect the way they purchase their first home. As a general rule of thumb, new homeowners typically buy lower-priced properties that require work. That means they’ll need service providers well past the closing date. Here’s your chance to wow millennials. If you can connect them with a team of trusted service providers, from mortgage brokers to plumbers and painters, you’re likely to have a client for life.
How: There are a lot of players involved in completing a real estate transaction. From appraisers and inspectors to mortgage brokers and lawyers, finding quality service providers can be overwhelming for new homebuyers. But millennials love teamwork, which means you can turn a networking nightmare into their dream come true. All you have to do is build a team of trusted service providers and be prepared to act as a liaison between your client and these providers. Try using technology solutions that allow you to bring all parties together so that you, your clients and the service providers can collaborate easily. By connecting clients with your network and guiding them through each transaction, you’ll make the homebuying process easy to navigate. That means a good experience and happy clients.
Tip three: Communicate
Why: Communication is key for millennials, but the way they keep in touch is completely different from generations prior. Unlike Gen X, millennials won’t demand much face-to-face time. In fact, they’ll likely shy away from it. Instead, millennials will expect real-time updates via email or text message. Because they are connected to their phones around the clock, millennials require live updates that don’t interfere with their plans.
Keeping millennial homebuyers in the loop is essential to keeping them happy. It’s also important to educate them throughout the process. As with all new homebuyers, they will need guidance on what to expect, what they can afford and everything in between.
How: Your mobile device will be your biggest asset when it comes to wowing millennials with communication that fits their lifestyle. Make sure to have client and trusted service provider contact information with you wherever you go. That means you’ll need to find a technology solution that allows you to store your Rolodex online — ideally where the deal is getting done so that everything you need is in one easy-to-access place. You’ll need to be able to get in touch with clients and service providers at a moment’s notice, which means you can’t be running back to the office or sifting through an address book. This also comes in handy if you need to make a service provider recommendation.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to text your clients. Texting may seem like an informal way to touch base, but it’s a quick and easy way to keep your client informed without interrupting their day. Email is another great resource for keeping clients up-to-date, which means agents should have their email linked to their phones so they can check inboxes regularly. Whether it be through text, email or phone call, you should aim to respond to clients within a few hours. When it comes to millennials, err on the side of overcommunicating. Don’t assume they’re familiar with the homebuying process, either. Keep your millennial clients up-to-date and continue to educate them from start to close.
Marnie Blanco is the strategic director of executive accounts for dotloop.