Brokerage

What I’ve learned as the mother of millennials

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One of the smartest and best things I have ever done was to give birth to a couple of millennials. It wasn’t until this decade that I realized how important they are to my financial future.

They have grown up and moved out. One is married now, which added another millennial to the family.

There is still a millennial living in our home. She arrived two years ago, and she’s my niece. She is an early 20s, full-time college student.

Like many of her peers, she is flat broke and so deeply in debt that she chose to live in her crazy aunt’s spare bedroom rather than her parents’ basement.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 are a dominant part of my niece’s childhood, whereas the millennials I gave birth to have fond memories of playing Oregon Trail on their Apple II computers. They can tell you all about Pac-Man, and they remember a time before cellphones.

A third of my clients are about the same age as my children. I have never had any problem attracting millennial-aged clients even though I am old enough to be their mother.

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All I have to do is to be there for them — ready to help and answer questions. On the job, I need to be trustworthy and wise. At home, all I have to do is cook a meal, and I can fill my house with millennials in no time.

In business, I get a few referrals every year from my past millennial clients, and a few find me on the Internet while researching how to buy a home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Some will be friends from the neighborhood or the sons or daughters of friends or neighbors.

I love working with the younger homebuyers. I feel like I am adding value and doing something important that matters.

To date, I do not have any evidence that millennial-aged homebuyers prefer working with millennial-aged real estate agents or vice versa — but I work in an industry that accepts this belief as fact.

I don’t think younger agents are needed to attract younger homebuyers. I think they are attracted to the opportunity of owning a home and to the homes I list.

In general, we attract homebuyers through referrals, networking and marketing. Real estate agents aren’t the reason people buy homes. In most cases, they have already decided to buy a home, and they just need someone to help doing it.

There are other boomer-aged agents who report having the same experience. They find that our children’s friends want to do business with us because they feel as though they can trust us, and they like that we know our way around a real estate transaction.

Maybe there are people in the millennial generation who are more comfortable working with their mom than they are working with someone their own age.

If I were to recommend a real estate agent in another state to one of my young clients, I would not focus on the age of the agent.

I would choose an agent with experience and strong communication skills. I can pretty much tell if someone can handle younger buyers. If they refer to ordinary communication tools such as smartphones, apps, social media or email as “technology” — they probably are not a good fit.

As a broker, I won’t be recruiting agents based on age. There was a time when that would be considered age discrimination. Ultimately, all agents will age, and there isn’t any way we can change that.

We live in an aging society. Home sellers tend to be older than first-time homebuyers, and successful agents focus on getting listings.

The homebuying and selling processes are the same for people in all age groups, which is another reason it is easy for me to work with millennials even though I am old enough to be their mother.

I think we miss out on opportunities when we try to label and stereotype whole generations. I don’t like being profiled based on my age and gender, and my children don’t like to be told who they are and what they want either. I defy some stereotypes, and I resemble others, as my millennial-aged clients do, too.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker-owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman.


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