My favorite topic to write and speak about these days is millennial buyers. Over the past year, I have obsessively consumed any article, study or data point relating to millennials in the housing market.
I’ve noticed that much of what is written about this generation has less to do with hard facts and more to do with subjective assumptions about how this generation should act. Here are four myths that pop up over and over again, along with the fact-based realities.
Myth 1: Millennials prefer tech-savvy Realtors
On an intuitive level, this seems like it must be true, but it simply isn’t. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Generational Survey, millennials rank an agent’s use of technology as less important than any generation. To a millennial, using social media is not unique or interesting — it’s just a baseline expectation of a human being in 2015.
If you want to connect with a millennial, stop worrying about Instagram and start being more transparent about the market. Millennials rank trustworthiness higher than any other Realtor trait, including area expertise and experience.
Myth 2: Millennials have too much student debt to buy a home
Yes, millennials have a historic amount of student loan debt. However, in most cases, that’s the only debt they have (see next myth). More importantly, millennials are involved in multigenerational financing than any previous generation.
In other words, millennials often receive help from their parents. As a result, millennials now account for 32 percent of buyers — more than any generation.
Myth 3: Millennials will make and save less money than their parents
Politicians and social commentators like to throw this phrase around all the time. Sometimes, they’ll even back it up with statistics, such as “According to a recent poll, this is the first generation of young adults that expects to make less than their parents.”
However, what people expect to happen is not necessarily what ends up happening. Just ask anyone who bought a home in 2006, expecting prices to increase.
Here’s the reality: Millennials own more home equity, stock equity and liquid cash than their generational counterparts did at this point in their lives. In other words, a 25-year-old in 2015 is statistically more wealthy (even when adjusting for inflation) than a 25-year-old in 1975, 1985, 1995 or 2005.
They are also less likely to hold credit card debt and more likely to hold an advanced college degree — both associated with future wealth creation.
Finally, this generation is waiting longer to marry and have children — two decisions that have historically led to more wealth creation. No one has a crystal ball, but the smart money is on millennials acquiring more wealth than any previous U.S. generation.
Myth 4: Millennials are difficult clients
A common misperception is that a generation obsessed with selfies must necessarily be selfish. The reality is that millennials are much more collaborative customers than any previous generation. They self-report as more satisfied with their Realtor’s service and more likely to refer business to their Realtors than clients in other generations.
Although there’s a wealth of information floating around the “interwebs” about millennials and how to capture their business, it simply isn’t all accurate. So, don’t let it scare you away from their business. Don’t judge a millennial by their birth date — get in there and figure out what their individual needs and desires are and work to make them happen.