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A Millennial’s Guide to Selling to Millennials

March 23 2015

lwolf millennial millennialLately there's been a lot of literature in the real estate community about Millennial clients – what motivates them, what defines them and most importantly, how to sell them houses. And for a good reason. In 2015, Millennials are rapidly transitioning from the "future buying generation" into the purchasing force of the present. They represent a massive population of first time homebuyers who, if targeted correctly, can be cultivated into loyal, lifelong clients.

As a Millennial, I am compelled to read the growing body of articles on this topic and, for the most part, I agree. Many agents and brokers are finding useful ways to convert their understanding of this generation into tangible selling advice. So, if you have also been following this topic, you can rest assured that you haven't been exposed to any glaring misinformation. Feel free to treat this piece as a condensed verification of everything you've been exposed to, along with some fresh insights. This is A Millennial's Guide to Selling to Millennials.

First, some context. As exhausted as we all might be of touting the common revelation that we live in the "information age," it still holds true. More than any factor, Millennials have been fundamentally motivated by choice. While we will still become passive or convicted, ignorant or informed, we arrive at these states by consuming and contemplating drastically more information than generations prior.

We don't derive our political and social orientations, values and beliefs from word of mouth or from traditional media. Rather, we scour the depths of search engines and social networks in order to verify these beliefs a thousand times over. Being the world's first generation of Internet-savvy adolescents has equipped Millennials with a common skepticism. Rarely do we accept that we cannot find an answer for ourselves.

The output of this common skepticism? A stubborn distrust of authority, a bane on all those who try to guide us. Are you really a trained professional? Will your knowledge really benefit me? Millennial clients will make you prove it, but this doesn't have to involve jumping through hoops for us. Before trying to sell us a house, you will have to sell yourself. The secret to this is identifying where the gaps in our confidence lie and understanding that these are the areas where we need guidance most.

For example, while Millennials may have a grasp on information, we are frequently paralyzed by a fear of outcomes. The rhetoric of our youth taught us to have high expectations and emerging into adulthood in the midst of an unfavourable economic situation has filled us with a sense of unease. We were told that our university and college educations would buy us the world, but now find ourselves wondering if we can even afford a down payment. We are less concerned with our ability to find a suitable home than we are with accepting that homeownership is even a feasible option.

So let's emerge from abstractions and dive into some useable advice. This is my list of tips on how to attract and retain Millennial clients:

1. Be relevant on the Internet. If you are a young agent, tailor your social presence to cast yourself as a professional. Be aggressively active on social media – you likely have invaluable access to hundreds of potential millennial clients just by tapping into your personal network. Dedicate time and energy to create a comprehensive online presence that starts with a professional website and filters through the social channels that are most relevant to you.

If you are an older agent who isn't involved on social media, learn what you can and hire help for the rest. There is a beautiful thing called "marketing automation." It means that your properly implemented online presence will incur a cost but will ultimately pay for itself. There are an abundance of useful marketing tools and consultants who know how to use them. Identify your needs – "I want a simple, attractive website to post blogs and generate leads, and I want to share information on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn" etc. – and shop around for the solution that suits your needs.

Brokers/owners, support the online efforts of your agents. If you find a marketing solution that offers the functionality you require, make sure that your agents have access to the necessary tools and training to make use of it. A cohesive online presence will make your brokerage appear trustworthy, and trust is a vital factor for attracting real estate clients.

2. Be prepared to search with your clients, not for them. This might sound outrageous, but it is important. Our parents bought their first houses in an era where they were exposed to listings via newspapers and flyers, or by driving past a property with a sign on the lawn. As such, a pertinent task of the real estate agent was to keep a keen eye on all available listings and to inform their clients of what was available. While Millennials can acknowledge this, this reality is more foreign to us than agents might understand. Many Millennials have leased a rental property that we found on the Internet, and we have no reason to expect that we wouldn't find a house this way.

Therefore, the task of the real estate agent is to understand what information their client will access online, to acknowledge this information and supplement it with relevant guidance. Keep an open line of communication with your client, encourage us to send you links to properties they are interested in. Make us aware that you are using the same tools that we are. For example, you might find some listings online that suit your clients' recommendations. You could email these listings to us, adding some information that only an industry insider would possess, such as a comprehensive neighbourhood checklist, why the properties are set to appreciate generously over time, or how you know of the perfect financing option to suit their needs.

Of course, the point of this article is that you are the real estate expert and I am the idealistic Millennial. I will send you my dream homes and you will offer your expert guidance to help make one of these dreams a reality, explaining every step of the process along the way. Which leads me to my final point:

3. Give us time, attention, and confidenceThere are a number of aspects of the homebuying process that we will not be immediately aware of. Send us relevant articles and resources, even share them with us on social media, if appropriate. Connect us with relevant authorities, such as a good mortgage broker who can help us identify our price range and expectations. Help us become an expert in the process and we will respect you as the authority who will guide us throughout.

For some reason, Millennials have taken the brunt of a negative discourse regarding our use of technology. We are accused of being impersonal, disconnected, and buried in our smartphones. While our communication might be segmented and mediated in untraditional ways, this doesn't mean that we are any less in pursuit of human connection.

In fact, it is frequently the opposite. If you call us, sit down with us, explain things clearly, reassure us that you are a trusted connection and keep us updated via text, email and social media, we will trust you. We will feel connected to you and we will take what you say seriously. You must gain our trust and then use optimistic dialogue to make us feel confident in the process. If we feel that you empowered this process rather than restricting it, you have likely gained a client for life.

To view the original article, visit the Lone Wolf blogLone Wolf blog.