• The East Bay is an ideal spot for millennial first-time homebuyers.
  • While millennials have access to all the information they need, but are often unsure of the questions. Realtors should be the expert guiding them along the way.

Over the past three to four years I’ve been selling more and more homes to millennials. More than to any other generation. I work in the San Francisco East Bay (Oakland, Piedmont and Berkeley) and I’m right in the path of tech companies turning toward Oakland’s more affordable commercial environments and cheaper employee housing inventory. Companies like Pandora Music, Ask.com and now Uber have all made (or are making) the jump to the East Bay.

Looking forward, I see the trend of millennials purchasing homes and condos fueling the local market for these primary reasons:

  • Rents are so comparatively high that buying a home with a tax-deductible mortgage is very attractive.
  • This millennial generation has not personally witnessed a drop in real estate values like what happened in 2007-08.
  • Their incomes support large mortgages especially with today’s low interest rates.
  • Non-car dependent locations are attractive and some neighborhood “grit” is actually desired.

Doing business with millennials was at first a bit off putting and took some getting used to, however I’ve developed a few do’s and don’ts that have helped me make the adjustment:

  • Do communicate concisely and get to the point. Don’t be surprised if there are very few pleasantries and small-talk.
  • Do be polite and accurate. Don’t embellish or try to influence their decisions.
  • Do be prepared to communicate by text.
  • Do respond to all calls, emails and texts. Don’t be surprised if they do not reciprocate. If you don’t hear back, it is most likely that they got their answer and are simply not interested in the property.
  • If you do a good job, do expect referrals, Zillow testimonials and Yelp reviews.

Millennials have high incomes, un-jaded spirits and make up a large segment of the buying population. They have unprecedented access to information and are ultra-efficient at obtaining it. In most cases, millennials don’t know what they don’t know.

They routinely turn to Google for answers, but in most cases they don’t know the right questions to ask. That’s where we come in. Remember, information does not equal experience. And it’s our real-world experience as veteran agents that is our golden value proposition to them.

While doing business with this generation may take some getting used to, once you earn their respect you’ll find them extremely loyal, appreciative and they will enthusiastically act as a funnel of new client referrals.

Brian Santilena is a real estate professional with Pacific Union Real Estate and has been working the greater communities of Oakland, Piedmont and Berkeley CA since 1998.  

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