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Where Is Gen Y?

So we’ve all heard at least one place that Generation Y is huge, important, young, arrogant, etc.  I’m Gen Y and I’m not the only person here who is, but I was doing a mind-catalog of others I know in the industry, and couldn’t think of too many other Gen Y professionals.  There are a ton of Boomers and Generation X, but not much Gen Y.

People Buy From People They Trust

We’ve heard it all before, but if it holds true, don’t most people trust people they can relate to? Can’t I relate best to someone else who has also grown up on the internet, had a blog and thinks it’s okay to text message during a date?

Note: The average age of my close group of friends is actually 40+, so I don’t 100% fit the stereotypes.

Gen Y Is Missing From This Side Of The Table

Are all of the Gen Y people the programmers at sites like Trulia and Redfin? Do they work in the IT departments for John L Scott and Keller Williams?  I sure don’t see too many young peoples faces on postcards.

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I know when I worked for a title company, we had a couple of Gen Y’ers a few more Gen X’ers, but a large number of people much closer to retirement with no replacements coming soon.

I’ve even asked using the correct hashtag via Twitter during the Inman Connect New York Conference for a show of hands of Gen Y people and have heard from 3.  That seems odd to me, a conference focusing on the changes needed in the real estate industry yet the largest (real estate buying) age group of our country isn’t represented adequately.


Do we need to diversify our work teams? I completely understand the value of experience which is why I’ve never refused to accept professional help from someone because they were older than me, but I also know age does not equal wisdom. Should the smart, experienced agents, mortgage brokers, appraisers and title people need to scout out younger people to join their teams, learn the real estate skills (since odds are they already have the online marketing skills) and help really move the industry into the future? Or are Gen Y’ers too fickle and prone to changing professions that it isn’t worth the time to train them?


I’ve spoken to groups of real estate professionals about generational marketing many times, the average age I would guess to be around 55 and even though I promote a multi-generational marketing approach, I get cheered when talking about marketing to Boomers and jeered when talking about marketing to Gen Y’ers.  “They’re just going to do it themselves since they think they’re smarter” is something I’ve heard more than once.

Generation Why?

Why aren’t there more Generation Y people on the professional side of real estate?

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Written By

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.



  1. Dan Connolly

    January 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Okay so what is the age difference between GenY and GenX? Oh and when will GenZ be here?

  2. Missy Caulk

    January 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I am a bummer, but in some cases I know more than my kids. They know more than me in some things, like showing me at Christmas how to program my IPod.

    My teams ages run from 28 to 62, but I give the first time home buyer and U of M students to my younger one, they have fun and text all the time.

    I’m not sure age in years have anything to do with it but more of a desire to learn new things.

  3. Paula Henry

    January 8, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Nick – Two of my chilren are Gen Y. Both were in real estate, one as a licensed assistant and the other unlicensed. Neither enjoyed it. One thing I have noticed about this generation is, they work to live and their freedom and fun is important to them.

    As are their friends. If you et the opportunity to work with them, once you have earned their trust, they are loyal and will refer to their friends. They trust their friends!

  4. Nicole Lahti

    January 8, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    I’m a Gen Y and have been in mortgage for 3 years (straight out of college), and I’m oftentimes the youngest in the room at sales meetings, trainings, CE classes, etc.

    I think why generally see less Gen Y in real estate is because our higher education system can be a Fortune 500 factory. We’re sold on the cool title, company expense account and travel opportunities big companies offer straight out of college; not the sacrifice and rejection (which is loathed by Gen Y) it takes to become a young entrepreneur.

  5. Linda Davis

    January 9, 2009 at 7:13 am

    It’s simple.
    Look at the tons of research on the character traits of the average Gen Y. Then talk to some of the most successful real estate professionals and ask them what it took to get there. You’ll have your answer.

  6. Brad Rachielles

    January 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Disclosure: I am a 1946 Boomer that has stayed knowledgable on tech.

    That said, it may not be important because it appears to me that the whole world will beat a path to one who gets results. A lender posted on Facebook that he was writing a 4.5% loan and said that everyone came out of the woodwork, regardless of catagory.

    Nick, I liked your post. Have you done any research on other entrapreneur based fields outside of “tech” or real estate/loans that may indicate that Millenials are thriving as independant owners/contractors? I see and agree with Nicole’s point about corporate emphasis in schools. Maybe that is where the changes should take place.

    Or, could it be possible that Generation Y so strongly believes in generational division that they have trouble seeing themselves doing business with clients with a diverse generational characteristic because they have been so preconditioned. There has to be a better thought than that!

  7. Debra Sinick

    January 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with Missy’s comment about the difference being not just generational, but the willingness to learn and change.

  8. Elaine Reese

    January 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned money. It takes quite a bit of money to start-up and stay in this business – whether or not a sale is made. It may require being able to live for 6 months without a paycheck. Perhaps, the Gen Y’ers just don’t have that kind of savings. Especially, if they have to start paying off college loans.

  9. Benjamin Bach

    January 10, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I’m 25, and have been in business for 3 years now.

    Our firm of 100 associates is owned by a 32 year old.

    A few of us in the top 10 at the firm are under 35.

    Maybe we’re the exception, but Gen Y does pretty well around here

  10. Nick Bostic

    January 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    @Dan – There still isn’t a very clear definition on time periods, but the most widely accepted I consistently see is 1977-1998. Generation X is 1965-1976. Gen Z probably won’t exist because Gen Y was actually meant as a put down to say that we were not really different from Gen X and just the next group to follow.

    @Missy – I agree with the desire to learn, but I also think those doing the educating need to evolve. My “research” is anecdotal, but most of my friends spent more time in college because they enjoyed learning. They also had more altercations with instructors because the information was old and outdated. So again, my anecdotal evidence suggests Gen Y has a great desire to learn, but no tolerance for incompetent educational systems.

    @Paula – I would definitely agree that a work/life balance is key to my generation, but wouldn’t being a real estate agent be a perfect occupation? You set your hours, you’re your own boss?

    @Nicole – Thank you for joining the conversation, I’m glad I’m not alone here 🙂 I would agree that higher education promotes the (outdated) Fortune 500 mentality. I think everyone I keep in contact with that I graduated from college with has been sorely disappointed by the Fortune 500 promises that haven’t come true yet, and I think this reality will get passed down.

    @Lina – I have read and conducted my own research into the character traits of Gen Y. Driven, motivated, understanding that 401k’s/Pensions/Social Security won’t exist when they need them so they must make their own future, a desire to learn, a want to be respected by their boss/coworkers, knowledge that there is a future in their career. I’m sorry, I don’t see how this doesn’t work with a real estate career.

    @Brad – Very true, people will go where they get results. I go to the best realtors, lenders, appraisers, etc I can find. But I would also like to get to know these people, maybe even consider them friends. People are traditionally more likely to hang out with their direct peers. Generation Y has definitely been fed a mentality of getting the corporate job, but I think many are seeing that it isn’t working out as promised and more are looking for a better life. I’m not sure Gen Y is the only one that believes in generational division, and in my day job, I see the most push back to NOT cross generational lines from older generations.

    @Debra – When I teach classes about using Craigslist and other online marketing options to Boomers, I get so much push back and resistance. The Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers in the room are much more willing to learn and change.

    @Elaine – Gen Y is also one of the most likely to be willing to move back home out of school, so coming up with seed money may actually be easier for many. I personally moved back home after college, had my student loans and a new car paid off and savings for a down payment in less than a year, and I know of many other Gen Y’ers who have done the same. Many, including myself, were told by heads of departments that we’d easily be making six figures immediately upon graduation, which isn’t realistic, so perhaps it’s the fear of making NOTHING that is keeping Gen Y’ers from jumping into their own business.

    @Benjamin – Excellent job, thanks for sharing a great example!

  11. Paula Henry

    January 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Nick – You would think real estate would be the perfect business; while I hate to admit it, maybe it was their role model at the time – ME – who left them not liking the business.

    My son likes the security of a paycheck and benefits which allows him time off to enjoy the beach and mountains.

    My daughter – well – girls just wanna have fun 🙂

    Funny – you mention moving back home – my son did, now 26 , has now moved out. My daughter – now 22, is still at home.

    Maybe it is the fear of making nothing – there’s only one way around that – face the fear and move beyond it.

  12. Matt Goyer - Redfin

    January 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Sorry I missed your raise of hands on the #icny during Inman! I was at Inman and I’m also 29, barely qualifying me for Gen Y.

    For those interested, Redfin has a good number of Gen Y folks both on the engineering side (those who build the website) and on the real estate side (the agents.)

    I think people my age identify more easily with an agent who speaks their language. That is knows how to crunch numbers in Excel, emails over calling, and understands the power of blogs and Twitter.

    You’ll see this reflected in Redfin’s website by us including the tools that Gen Y has come to expect and by showing our agents in more casual outfits instead of a suit and tie.


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