- Millennials are the future of real estate, and they are tech-savvy. Real estate agents should connect with millennials where they can be reached -- social media.
It seems that the housing market is experiencing a major shift that is sure to impact the future of real estate for at least another 10 years.
As of 2016, millennial first-time buyers have surpassed Gen Xers and baby boomers. Millennials, born between 1980-1998, make up the largest group of first-time homebuyers at 66 percent, followed by Gen X at 26 percent.
So how can a real estate agent succeed at reaching more millennial buyers and sellers?
In the course of my role as CEO of my company, I meet real estate agents who are hardworking and enthusiastic, but struggling to find prospects. The no. 1 obstacle in the way of their prospecting efforts? Lack of time.
How can you get more prospects when your clients are typically unavailable during business hours?
This response puzzles me because we live in an age of accelerated efficiency. Technology has empowered us with tools that extend our reach, efficiency and capabilities.
In the space of only two hours, I can pay my phone bill, order dinner, watch a movie in HD, converse with family members half a world away and send a document to a client for approval — all with the press of a button.
Prospecting has never been easy, but it’s also never been easier
According to market research by Contactually, 88 percent of first-time buyers are still purchasing their home through an agent, which is great news. And while close to 50 percent of those agents were found through a referral, at least half of your potential business annually will come from other sources besides your referral network.
If you ever want to maximize your time and expand your reach to more millennials, you need to do two things:
- Engage prospects during business hours.
- Appeal to millennials through technology.
Engage millennials during business hours?
How the heck do I do that?
Recently, I wrote an article advising real estate agents on how to connect with millennial buyers and sellers. I was surprised to learn from my clients how little time they spend on social media for their business.
Sure, they visit Facebook 10 times a day, but are they using the site to attract prospects?
Surprisingly, the facts suggest that a mere 9 percent of Realtors use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to market their services. Why aren’t more real estate agents active on social media?
Many real estate agents that I meet with seem reluctant or skeptical about using social media to market their expertise.
Do you think millennials are driving around your city, casually looking at prospective homes and real estate ads on benches and lawns? Get real, friend! Not unless it’s in their neighborhood.
And even then, they will go directly online to check out your website, Facebook page or other web presence before they contact you.
Your audience spends the majority of its time online in one form or another, and that includes during business hours.
If you’re not online engaging them, that leaves a very small window of opportunity — between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. — for you to connect with them. How can you possibly meet enough prospects if you confine your prospecting to such a limited time frame?
Here’s what you need to know about millennials:
10 things agents should know about millennial buyers and sellers
- Millennial buyers and sellers seeking an agent have little to no interest in shopping around. Almost seven out of 10 buyers interviewed only one agent. They don’t want to meet with you unless they’re already convinced that you are the right choice.
- Millennial buyers and sellers are more tech-savvy than baby boomers when it comes to the internet. Even during business hours, millennials are engaged online through social media, instant messaging, search engines, music streaming, email and cloud-based services.
- During business hours, millennials are also frequently engaged on a number of devices: mobile smartphones, iPhones and tablets. They use them to navigate while driving, to connect, plan, research products or enjoy entertainment. Ninety nine percent of millennials search on online websites during the home search; 58 percent of millennials found their home on a mobile device.
- Forty-four percent of all buyers begin their search for a home or agent online. Not in the newspaper, not listening to a radio ad or reading a lawn sign.
- Eighty-nine percent of millennials found photos and detailed information online useful in their search for a home. Millennials won’t be calling or emailing you unless the details and images you provide are helpful. A virtual tour or video of the home is even better because it prepares your clients for what to expect and eliminates the likelihood of surprises turning up during the showing.
- Nearly one in five Americans are now living in a multigenerational household. Expect millennials to seek multigenerational homes to accommodate aging parents and in-laws.
- A 2016 Adweek survey found that 41 percent of millennials use Facebook every day; 79 percent of internet users in the U.S. (68 percent of U.S. adults) use Facebook. You can’t afford not to have a Facebook presence.
- YouTube content — on mobile alone — reaches more millennials than any U.S. cable network. If you can create YouTube content directed to millennial buyers and sellers, such as a virtual showing, you’ll be ahead of the competition.
- Snapchat is a highly overlooked social media platform in real estate circles; 41 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) engage on the platform daily. If you’re looking for a competitive edge over more established agents in your area, do your homework, and find out why and how your prospects are using it.
- Fifty-six percent of your target audience uses more than one social media site. They may have a Facebook account for family, a Twitter account for news updates, Snapchat for friends and a LinkedIn account for professional networking. As an agent you should have a presence on more than one social media platform.
If you’re already engaged on a social media platform you enjoy, do the research to find out how millennials are using it as well. Consider building a presence across as many sites as you can manage, but choose two or three to start.
You really can’t go wrong starting with Facebook and Instagram.
Provide millennial buyers with detailed housing market information relevant to their demographic. Then, share that content using a variety of medium: podcasts, video tutorials, free e-books, slideshows, infographics, etc.
Plan a content strategy to help you manage the frequency of your posts and engagement.
Start with a schedule you can manage, then work more content into your schedule as you get better. And remember: consistency is key to success on social media.
Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of Parkbench.com and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter@GrantFSofficial.