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How to Reach Millennials in the Marketplace

August 08 2016

young people groupI recently witnessed a childhood friend's journey of purchasing her first home on Facebook. She posted links to homes she was interested in, and her friends oohed and aahed and offered their opinions on each property.

What impressed me, however, was my friend's Realtor. She was quick to respond to my friend's Facebook posts with an offer to show them the home or with a bit more information on the property. While I'm sure this was useful to my friend, I'm sure that this activity greatly benefited the agent, too. Think about it--each helpful response was seen by my friend's network of several hundred mostly local individuals. That's a ton of free exposure for the agent!

Like most of my friends, this acquaintance and her husband are millennials, and her social sharing behavior is not uncommon among members of her generation. Millennials have grown up in a fundamentally different world than their older peers, thanks to the impact of the internet, and that has had a significant effect on their habits.

Millennials use the internet, and particularly social media, to share things with family and friends and to elicit their opinions. Because of this, millennials are generally more collaborative in their decision making process.

For agents, this means that millennials need to be reached and nurtured differently than other buyers and sellers. A strong online presence is a good place to start, and good smartphone game is as well, particularly with an app that clients can use to search for homes on the go.

How to Leverage Millennials' Love of Data

Unfortunately, that's the one weakness I noticed with my friend's Realtor. Despite the very savvy decision to respond to my friend's Facebook posts, I noticed that all the links my friend shared were from Zillow, not the website of her agent or the local MLS. That's dangerous to the agent, as my friend's network will be exposed to other agents advertising on Zillow.

What could the agent have done to prevent this? First, it's important to understand why Millennials like portals like Zillow. As a generation that's grown up with the internet, we're used to having a ton of information at our fingertips. The appeal of Zillow is in the extensive property data they offer, all tied up in a user-friendly interface. Users can see not just photos and maps, but information like the last time a property sold, and for how much. Millennials love data like this--the more the better, in fact!

But Millennials have no particular loyalty to Zillow, and we're happy to move to an information source that gives us data that's just as good or better, whether this is you or your brokerage's website, your MLS's public facing website, or a mobile app rich with MLS data.

ListingbookListingbook is a great example of a tool that offers rich property data in a user-friendly interface. The application runs off of VOW data, meaning that it offers MLS property data you can't see on public sites like Zillow. This means that your clients can see information like recently sold properties, pendings, and other data that is in the MLS (with the exception of confidential information, such as showing instructions).

What may be most appealing to Millennials, however, is Listingbook's collaborative search capabilities. Consumers can save properties, write notes to their agent about a property, receive comments back from their agent, and even share individual listings to their network via social sharing buttons. Listingbook is also available as a slick mobile app, which means that Millennials can search, share, and save on the go.

Had my friend's agent used something like Listingbook and introduced my friend to the app early in her purchase journey, all those links my friend posted would have lead to pages with the agent's branding and contact information instead of to Zillow.

C'est la vie. The takeaway here is to be aware of the increasingly collaborative nature of real estate search among consumers. Get your clients familiar with a property search platform that you control early on in the process, so that anything they share leads back to you!