Is anyone else out there sick of the hype over millennials? You cannot read a conference session list or marketing website without being screamed out to “Pay attention to the millennial generation!” Yes, the generation born roughly between 1982-2000 is huge. They outnumber boomers (millennials number 83 million strong) and you may remember the hype when the first boomers started being recognized as “grownups,” and then again when the oldest wave started turning 50.
Marketing to one group alienates others
They are aged 16-34 and they are more racially and ethnically diverse than older demographics. We are told they are individualistic and yet care about social causes and the environment. They are entrepreneurial and realists. They are supposedly creative and optimistic. Marketing gurus tell us to appeal to the group through cause-related marketing and using high tech to communicate with them.
I do think it’s important to keep these facts in mind when marketing to and serving millennials, but don’t fall for sweeping generalizations. Just as not all boomers or the greatest generation fell into their narrow stereotypes, this group is simply the newest “Young Americans” to hit the adult homebuying population.
Do your research and work hard to serve each and every client – no matter what their age range. Don’t concentrate so hard on building a millennial-friendly business, or bend your marketing specifically for this group, that you alienate or ignore other age ranges.
There are always exceptions
We’ve been told, for example, that the Millennial generation prefers to rent rather than buy. They want to remain mobile and able to move across the country at the drop of the hat, unencumbered by sticks and bricks that may be hard to sell. They watched their parents struggle to keep their houses, be burdened by mortgage debt, and don’t want to have that albatross around their necks.
That’s the generalization, yet this week alone I sat with two clients who are the epitome of Hard Core Millennial when it comes to some of their characteristics, they are right now exploring buying their first homes.
One moved to 4 jobs in 3 cities in the past 5 years, is in his early 30s, and says he will never get married, and says he’d rather work for himself any day rather than work for “the man”). This buyer sees paying rent as throwing away money, and says he’s not worried about resale should he pick up and move across the country again. He’d rather take that chance than throw more money at rent.
The second clients are a young married couple in their late 20s who want to live in a walkable, town setting. They don’t want a subdivision or country home. They want to live a few blocks from the town center so they don’t have to drive to get groceries or go to the bank. Being close to a park or green space is important to them. They have rented in the same townhouse for 5 years and just see this as a natural progression.
Open to guidance, willing to learn
Both these clients are “typical” Millennials, yet not falling into the “rent forever” stereotype. They also are unique in that both wanted to come into the office for a sit-down meeting to go over the buying process before seeing houses.
Many consumers call a real estate office and do not want to come in first to talk. Just show me the house, is the attitude. Both these clients were open to having a face-to-face meeting in the office first. We discussed working with lenders, getting prequalified, their particular needs, and how the process works. We educated them and they were open to this as the first step in home buying.
I am hoping that if generalizations hold true, that this one aspect of Millennials – open to guidance and learning about the process, setting expectations, and willing to build a relationship with a buyer’s agent before even setting foot in a house – follows through to the demographic as a trend. That would be a refreshing change and one that many Realtors would welcome in clients.
If that is true, then bring on those Millennials!