5 Barrier-Busters to Working with Millennials BY Millennials

Featured in RealtorMag

 Here they come.  The technology-raised generation, skilled at texting, selfies, and online research, that now looms larger than the enormous, once size-dominant Baby Boomer generation.  Also known as Millennials or those currently in their twenties to mid-thirties.  Did the hairs on your back raise just at the mention of that enigmatic concept... Millennials?  As a real estate professional, you may have concerns on how to reach this emerging generation, which has a reputation of being "self-centered, unmotivated, disrespectful, and disloyal".  Yet, a lasting real estate career should not ignore Millennials.  "While Millennials are usually a significant presence in most markets, their sheer size and buying power have made them a force to be reckoned with in hot ZIP codes and given them the power to shift supply and demand dynamics," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®.

Fortunately, you may not realize your values, motivations, and path of self-discovery are likely very similar.  The Staten Island Board of REALTOR® (SIBOR) has you covered!  During the 2016 SIBOR Global Real Estate Summit and Expo, an unforgettable Millennial-aged panel (thanks for including me!) was assembled to discuss one of real estate's most visible paradigm shifts: The Multi-Cultural Millennial Effect.  So let's "spill the tea" on what was shared to help your business more effectively reach all generations, particularly Millennials.

Interestingly, if you are part of the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomer or Generation X, you may remember a time when the generations before you did not understand your choice of musical "noise" nor the new constructs you employed to excel along your individual journey.  For instance, there was a time it was novel to go to college in an agrarian society, have off days, own a computer, and seek an outside career in addition to being a homemaker.  Those glass ceilings have been shattered because of the strides of each successive generation - thank you!  Today's youngest generation of adults, that M word, are shattering the limits on access to information and the ability to connect and communicate.  Yes, these have been disruptors for classic real estate methods of the 20th century but they do not have to call into extinction your future as a REALTOR®.

SIBOR 2016 Global Real Estate Summit & Expo Millennial Effect Panel

Here are 5 barrier-busters to successfully growing your clientele and office with Millennials:

During the talk, Michael Oppler (a panelist, the 2016 Chair of the National Association of Realtors® Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee and Vice President and Broker Associate at Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty) reminded everyone that real estate transactions pre-internet required real estate agents and firms to shuffle papers to index and catalog properties available for sale and lease.  Naturally, real estate firms were the information gatekeepers for homes for sale.  The adoption of the internet along with the evolution of mobile devices have made that information widely available with just a few clicks.  General information such as price, days on market and the like are easily accessible.  However, there are numerous intangibles that are not, which you possess.  

Ready for a shocker?  "Eighty-nine percent of Millennials, the most of any generation, decided to use an agent to purchase their homes. Millennials recognize that they need an advocate with experiential knowledge, skills, and resources to guide them through a complex and unique process. Something apps and algorithms cannot deliver", cited Oppler from the 2016 National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends.  Surprise, surprise!  Age nor technology keep Millennials from working with REALTORS®.

Age really is just a number.  One's age does not automatically give insight into one's abilities to broker a real estate deal or relate to a potential buyer or seller.  That is good news for the young and seasoned alike.  Jennifer C. Chan (a panelist and Sales Associate at Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty in Northern New Jersey, who specializes in connecting buyers and sellers on global and local levels) shared that, "Relationships are everything with colleagues and clients alike. Millennials aren't choosing REALTORS® or business partners based on their age, but based on their ability to feel a connection".  Let's remember to engage with people based on their individuality that resonates with you.  From one's fashion sense to hobbies to school affiliations and other common interests, we can forge relationship apart from age groups.  With each new potential Millennial client or teammate, try to find common ground and ask yourself what connections can you make.

Plus, and in light of point one, there is just some information that cannot be found online so make sure you have it.  Chan succinctly stated, "We want the 'inside scoop' not the things we can Google."  You can give Millennials (and really all clients and team members) the advantage by understanding and effectively navigating the nuances of working with various co-op brokers, builders, developers, appraisers, inspectors, and other parties to the transaction.  When you show how you can help others win, you win too.

Do you feel Millennials in your market are trembling "on the fence" or completely scared out of your real estate market?  This may not be due to commitment-phobia but unfamiliarity and fears from the excess of inaccurate online information.  Stir in school debt and scare local career opportunities and it is no wonder parental basements have been a welcomed respite.  To this point, Chan shared, "Millennials like to be portable. It is widely assumed that it's because they can't commit to a job or to a place, but often times, it is based on necessity. In many cases, Millennials are priced out of where they live or lack opportunity for growth in their careers. "  Yet, you (yes you!) have the know-how on purchasing to help eliminate these home ownership hurdles.

Help us Millennials understand that there is no shame in documented gifts or parent purchases.  Educate us that 20% down or more is NOT required for all home loans.  Your years of experience can enlighten us on ways to make a home purchase affordable today.  For example, you have probably worked with investors.  If so, you can help Millennial newcomers to real estate understand how real estate investing can both give them a home and income.  Jessica Peters (a panelist and top producing team leader with Douglas Elliman) is likely one of the Millennial frontrunners of a resurgent trend: Purchase a property that you can simultaneously live in and rent out like a duplex, quadruplex, etc. Helping the Millennials with whom you work understand such fundamentals of real estate investing can raise your "stock" value in our eyes, leading to happy clients and hearty referrals.

You may have children, nieces, nephews, younger siblings or a youthful person that perhaps you have helped raise.  Their Millennials. As a result, it may be tempting to relate to prospective Millennial buyers, sellers, or new agents to your firm as you would your youthful loved ones. Don't.  Separate your familial relationships from your business associations without projection, even if "Seller Sue" looks just like your grandbaby.  Instead, if someone has ever not taken you seriously, empathetically remember that demeaning feeling and do not inflict it on ours.

SIBOR 2016 Global Real Estate Summit & Expo Millennial Effect Panel

Richard Dun (moderator of our panel and an Associate Real Estate Broker working at the American Homes Group focus on using technology to service builders and investors in sales and acquisitions in Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn) echoed my sentiments and reiterated, "My biggest takeaway is to treat Millennials as partners and try to collaborate with them. Do not speak down to them like they are your children."  Relationships of all types tend to suffer when the parties do not feel like equals.  Millennials should show you respect but also be willing to give respect.

Sorry, we like texts (for short communication) and emails (for the details) in addition to face-to-face.  Dun mentioned, "I prefer text and email for the same reasons: documenting and creating a timeline".  And, if you have a packed schedule, texting can be a convenient way to still make contact.  Dun reflected on a savvy use for texts, "I am very chatty so it's easier to stay focused in a text".

I know it can be frustrating trying to type on a phone if you have a smaller keyboard but you actually protect yourself and brokerage the more you have in writing. So make texting (and email) your new normal, even if that means investing in a large-screen mobile device.

Sound off - I would love to hear from you!  Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor.  And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win, to transform their real estate sales game plan.  Here's to your success!
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