For years, we’ve been watching a generation of young people who seem entitled, disloyal, and a bit too free for our Baby Boomer and Gen X personalities.
Well, guess what? They’re now in the prime time for home buying. About 65 percent of Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are over the age of 25. The Millennial population numbers 87 million, which is larger than even the dominant Baby Boomers (78 million), who are hitting their retirement years. Yet, only a very small percentage of Millennials have achieved homeowner status—even though many of them are financially stable. (If only they would move out of their parents’ homes!)
While some young buyers can see through the jarring façade of black appliances, wallpaper, and vinyl flooring, most Millennials are not looking for a fixer upper resale. They don’t know what’s an easy fix—or they just don’t want the hassle of remodeling an older home. This means that a new home is ideal for these buyers who want move-in ready.
What does it take to sell a new home to a Millennial (also known as Gen Y and Echo Boomer)? Let’s look at some common traits among this unique generation.
1. They’re cautious. These young people have seen their parents, family members, and older friends struggle with being on the wrong side of a mortgage. They’ve watched them give their precious homes back to the bank. So, it’s understandable that they are not rushing out to buy a new home. To be successful, you have to convince the Millennial home buyer that this is indeed a great time to make a smart investment, while interest rates are still extremely low and before home prices rise even higher.
2. Millennials aren’t driven by status. Being a homeowner doesn’t have the value to them it has to their elders. They’re more mobile, ready to pick up and move without worry. While previous generations looked for a job before relocating, Millennials decide where they want to live and then worry about employment after they get there. Don’t scare them by talking long-term commitment. Focus on the purchase of the “first home.”
3. Tech talk matters. This generation grew up with technology. They don’t remember not having the Internet. Smartphones, tablets, WiFi, and video streaming are rights, not privileges. To reach these buyers, plan to connect on their turf—with mobile devices. They’re using these power tools almost 18 hours a day. Text them; don’t call. Use mobile-friendly apps to show them properties. Be sure you’re up on the latest video apps, so you can share virtual tours with them.
4. Seconds count. Remember dial-up Internet service? You could start the connection, make yourself a cup of coffee, return calls, and by that time you might be online. Millennials don’t wait. If a program, image, or web page doesn’t immediately download, they’re on to the next bright, shiny object. If they can’t place an order or reserve their place in line online, they’ll go to a business that will let them. Don’t keep your Millennial buyer waiting. When you get an inquiry, respond as fast as humanly possible, even if it’s only to acknowledge the message. If you don’t reply, you cease to exist, almost immediately. (Here are my tips for providing high-speed service.)
5. If you can’t use social media right, don’t use it at all. You can’t fool young consumers. Setting up a Facebook page doesn’t make you tech savvy. If you want to connect with them via social media, play it smart. Stay current on your page. Post topics of interest to Millennials. And don’t just share what you find. Add your comments. Be in the conversation!
6. Show them a simpler life. Millennials are used to convenience. When they’re ready to buy a home, it needs to be low-maintenance. They don’t want to mow a big yard. A balcony or patio is sufficient outdoor living space. They don’t want to clean up ashes when a gas fireplace is perfectly fine. They also don’t want to rely on a car to get where they want, so offer them hip, urban locales.
7. Sustain their desire for sustainability. Eco-friendly homes with sustainable materials (bamboo and cork, for example) and energy-efficient systems are essential. Show them how a home can be managed by their smartphone and you’ll have their attention.
8. Give them outlets for their tech toys. Homes should have plenty of electrical outlets so that Millennials can plug in their chargers, home theater system, gaming stations, etc.
9. Break down the walls. Show them an open floor plan. Don’t waste your time extolling the virtues of a formal dining room or built-in bookcases (remember, they download their books). Instead, point out the smart use of space and the flexibility of a floor plan. The recently completed BUILDER Responsive Home project was designed with this generation in mind.
It’s not tougher to sell a new home to a Millennial. You just have a different set of obstacles and challenges. This is a growing market with tremendous potential for new home sales. Are you ready?