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Op/Ed

Why you should stop falling prey to the millennial hype and just do your job

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 millennials!” Maybe we should just do what we are here to do: Sell houses.

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home buyer millennial

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 millennials!” 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.

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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 this group prefers to rent rather than buy. They want to remain mobile and able to move across 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 epitomy of Hard Core Millennial when it comes to some of their characteristics, they are right now exploring buying their first homes.

One moved to four jobs in three cities in the past five years, is in his early 30s and says he will never get married, and says he’d rather work for himself anyday 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 five 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 a first step in homebuying.

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!

#SellingToMillennials

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

Op/Ed

Morning rituals of highly successful people – do you have one?

(EDITORIAL) From start to finish, the daily life of each successful person is very much dictated by their family and job. But there are definitely some patterns that we can all incorporate into our own morning rituals to achieve higher success and order.

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Fleximize took a look at the morning habits of 26 of the country’s most successful individuals to include the President of the United States Barrack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs and even Oprah Winfrey.

What was discovered? Well, each of the men and women on their chart start their day early with time blocked out for exercise and meditation, breakfast and family. In short, things that are important!

Someone, somewhere coined it best: “If it has to happen, then it has to happen first!” Everyone has an “it.” Anyone who has managed to find professional success is surely embracing this philosophy. The first hour(s) of the day are used doing whatever is one’s top-priority activity. And no sooner do you start you risk the priorities of everyone else creeping in.

Interestingly enough, exercising in the morning is one of the group’s top priorities. It’s been said many times that exercise helps keep productivity and energy levels up and better prepares us for the everyday challenge of achieving all we can.

From start to finish, the daily life of each successful person is very much dictated by their family and job. But there are definitely some patterns that we can all incorporate into our own lives to achieve higher success and order.

An Insider article found that “the most productive people understand how important the first meal of the day is in determining their energy levels for the rest of the day. Most stick to the same light, daily breakfast because it works, it’s healthy for them and they know how the meal will make their mind and body feel.”

The Fleximize chart demonstrates that successful people consider the quiet hours of the morning an ideal time to focus on any number of things: important work projects, checking email, meditation. And what’s more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets complete attention before others chime in.

So check the chart and find someone you can relate to.

BI points out that planning the day, week, or month ahead is a crucial time management tool designed to keep you on track when you’re in the thick of it. Using the mornings to do big-picture thinking helps you prioritize and set the trajectory of the day!

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Op/Ed

Security of client information is important, so change the process

(EDITORIAL) Too many companies have had security breaches, which is bad enough, but is the process for insuring client information safety too old to secure?

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While it’s clear companies seem to get hacked regularly, the steps taken to keep users safe are a joke. Companies still rely on asking personal questions in an effort to make users feel safe, but those attempts are laughable.

I wasn’t laughing earlier this week as I was setting up a few new accounts.

As anyone knows, creating accounts can be a real pain in the buttocks. But, since I’m kind of a geek, I would sometimes find the humor in choosing and answering my three security questions. (Wondering if I’d remember the answers.)

What band was your first concert?
What was your favorite dog’s name?
Where were your parents married?
What model was your first car?
Who was your childhood bff?

Cool.

I never thought much about the security questions until the last few times when I encountered a few like this:

In which city were you married?

What is the name of your eldest child?

At what time of day was your oldest child born?

How old was your father when you were born?

What?

I felt I had taken a step back in time.

Sure, these questions might be ok, if there were a lot of options, but these were four of the seven provided.

I’m not a super touchy person who gets triggered easily or angered at the drop of a hat. But, these questions made me question this process and its security.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, in this day and age, it’s quite possible you’ve never been married or had a kid. It’s also possible for some folks, they didn’t know their dad. Or, if they do, maybe they don’t want their security question asking how old he was when they were born.

But, the bigger question: Why so very personal? And, from a woman’s perspective, why so presumptive. It made me wonder: are the questions the same for a man or a woman of any age?

I can’t imagine a 22-year-old being asked about the birth of their eldest child. Or, where they were married.

These questions had to be options based on my age and gender.

I chose the questions I could answer like, where was my elementary school located.

But, I didn’t feel safer for answering. Somehow I felt like the company asking them was 1) Prying to gather personal data 2) Not concerned about safety 3) Was sexist.

As many others have argued, it’s time to shut this process down, if only for the fact that it doesn’t make us safer online. This is a practice that should be relegated to the past, just like the presumptive questions being asked.

Seems no matter where you look online, banks, retailers and even medical providers are hacked. Our information is floating in space on the interwebs.

Obviously, security is a top concern. Who wants to sign up for a service only to find out later, “OOPS, our bad, your information was hacked. Here, we will give you free credit monitoring for a month.”

Doesn’t cut it.

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Op/Ed

How we can prepare to slowly start going back into our offices

(EDITORIAL) At some point a supervisor, or manager may tell you to come back into the office. Are you dreading that call? If so, what can you do to prepare for it?

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Office return

Returning to the office is an inevitability for most of us. So how can we prepare to go back to work in a not-yet post-pandemic world?

Harvard Business Review (HBR) has some great feel good ideas about how you can return to the office. According to their article, you should “be a source of joy,” and “stock up on patience.” I’d love to live in a world where our situations allowed endless accommodations, but this is real life and as independent contractors, any broker can cut any agent at any time, so we have to seriously keep up and serve clients despite this chaos.

1. Assess your own risk.

Managers will have to work with every team member to assess their own risk and vulnerability. There’s a lot of unknowns at this point, including how schools will work and whether childcare is available. People who feel more vulnerable because of other health risks may need accommodations. I would like to think that workplaces should help to make accommodations as much as possible, but I realize that for some businesses, that may not be possible. Everyone will have to consider their own situation and advocate for their own needs.

2. Prepare for change.

Humans don’t always adapt to change very well. It’s time to start thinking about how the office will change when you return. You may be more isolated due to distancing protocols. There may be schedule changes to prevent too many people in the building at one time. The office may feel unfamiliar for quite some time, which is understandable. You may also find yourself responsible for cleaning your space more often. Expect to have many different emotions as you go through the next few months.

3. Realize that there are things out of your control

Returning to the office is going to be a transition. Focus on what you can control. Manage your stress. In an ideal world, your work would be proactive and provide honest responses to your concerns, but we all know those jobs are few and far between. Don’t expect the problems you had in your job pre-COVID to change. You’re just going to have to adapt to a post-COVID work environment. Only you can measure whether the benefits of your job outweigh the problems. Realize that there are many forces that you can’t change. Your broker or manager may not even be in control of some of those forces and has to adapt the same as you.

4. It’s not your place to change your company’s culture (unless you’re the broker)

HBR asks, “What part will you play in making (the transition back to the office) mean something extraordinary?” I’d like to posit that the transition back to the office doesn’t need to be anything special. It’s just part of the normal routine. Instead, I’d ask, “how can you deal with change while protecting your health and your family?” If your company is putting profits ahead of people, maybe it’s time to polish off that resume and look for a place with some decency.

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