Tech millionaires are a type: They’re stereotypically young. They wear hoodies. And they don’t care about doing things the way their parents might have.
And that’s especially true when it comes to real estate, according to several high-powered agents who spoke Thursday at Inman Luxury Connect. In fact, younger people who have made fortunes in technology have actually brought a complete “180 on the infrastructure of what our business is made up,” Compass agent and Listing Impossible star Aaron Kirman argued.
Mark Choey, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Climb Real Estate, agree, saying Thursday that these changes have specifically altered the way younger, wealthier buyers find their agents. Unlike older buyers with old money, who might have connected with agents through lawyers or wealth managers, younger people with money “find you in the most random places.”
“Yelp, Zillow, your blog,” Choey said. “The blog is a place where agents can be honest.”
Choey said that this is especially true for people who have made their money through a company going public — which regularly mints new fortunes in Silicon Valley — or an acquisition. Buyers who find themselves with money after these events may not have the same deep connections to wealth that old money buyers have, and may not have any experience at all with real estate. So despite their vast resources, they also end up approaching real estate much in the same way as young buyers in lower price points.
“It’s all through these unconventional means,” Choey said of the way wealthy young people find agents, “and typically the same as a first-time buyer.”
Kirman, who recalled recently meeting with a 26-year-old billionaire, agreed that younger people with fortunes are driving changes in the real estate industry, and said that agents who want to succeed need to adapt to those changes.
“Agents that are embracing the new ways are the ones that are getting these tech billionaires,” he said.
However, while the real estate industry is currently seeing major changes, Kirman also said there are some constants. Most buyers today, he argued, actually want the same kinds of properties regardless of their age or the source of their money. He recalled, for example, talking with a martini-loving 80-year-old woman who revealed that she actually wanted to buy a modern house with a view — or the same kind of thing many of those younger buyers are looking for.
“I wouldn’t have imagined that that’s what she wanted,” Kirman said. “What people want, and where they are going, all seems to be very similar.”
Kirman also said that it can be challenging to work with wealthy clients, particularly tech billionaires and company founders who are used to getting everything they want. But ultimately, he said, the same rules apply for those clients as they do for everyone else.
“At the end of the day, we are in sales,” Kirman said, “and the most important thing in sales is try to understand the buyer.”