Dear Residential Real Estate,
I’m a millennial, but don’t call me one. Most of us hate the term because of the negative association that seems to always go along with it. I’m tired of being called entitled, soft, lazy or spoiled. I’m a first time home buyer, which means I’ve probably spent nearly a decade digging myself and possibly my partner out from under a mountain of school debt. I’ve established myself in a career that I love, and now its time for me to finally take the step that my parents and grandparents took when they were much younger than I am; I’m finally buying a house.
Everything I buy is on-demand. Running out of soap? Amazon will have it here tomorrow. Need a ride? There is an Uber around the corner. Wondering which country has the highest coffee consumption per person? My phone can tell me instantly. If I want to watch my favorite TV show I don’t wait for a marathon or even go buy the DVD. I expect it to stream on any device, at any time for minimal cost to me. My life is built around efficiency and convenience. Keep in mind that most of us can’t even remember a time before we had cell phones permanently within arms reach.
Finding a real estate agent I can trust is difficult. And no, seeing your face on a billboard or a bus bench isn’t going to help.
You grew up seeing around 500 ads a day, but I’m used to being bombarded with at least 5,000. I don’t read the newspaper, I don’t click on banner ads, and even on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll need to have some compelling content for me to take the time to click on your ad and see what you have to offer.
How can a real estate agent earn my trust? The answer is transparency. If I look at your Twitter account or your Facebook page, is it cobwebs? Have you just been posting every listing you’ve had for the last few months and little else? Seeing old listings doesn’t tell me anything about who you are.
Make your personal brand a lot more more personal.
Tweet about the traffic you got stuck in, the run you went on this morning, or a picture of your pet. Invite your prospects into your life, or at least a version of it. Show me that cool coffee shop around the corner from one of your listings, or post a picture of a beautiful park where I could take my family on a walk after dinner some night. Tell us about that couple that looked for the perfect house for a year and finally found one they like. Show us the city and neighborhoods that you are selling.
Marketing isn’t about blasting out a message anymore, its about building thousands of personal, one-on-one relationships with your target audience.
But building relationships is what being a great real estate agent is all about, right?
The destination hasn’t changed, I just expect a car instead of a steam engine.
Buying a home is terrifying. Its the biggest purchase I’ve even considered making so far in my life and I don’t want to screw it up. I do want a real estate agent to help me through this complex process and to make sure I don’t get ripped off. But just like the rest of the products and services I use, I expect transparency and flexibility on a level that might make you a little uncomfortable. My generation thrives on making the most of every second of the day. I don’t just stand to wait in line, I check sports scores, catch up with friends, and stay up on the news.
I have a few suggestions for how you can connect with people like me. But at the end of the day what I want is for the process to go smoothly and quickly and I want a good price on a great place to live. Is that any different from what you wanted when you bought your first home?
1. Digitize as much paperwork as possible.
I understand that I’ll never be able to close on my new home from my phone, but amendments, loan applications, written offers and any other important information should all be in one place where I can easily access them. Dropbox or Google Drive will do this pretty much for free, and it makes both of our lives a lot easier.
2. Don’t just send me a bunch of bare bones listings.
If you are showing me listings that only have a couple of pictures of the exterior of the house, we are both going to be frustrated. Its more efficient for me to narrow down my top 2 or 3 choices by taking virtual tours or examining lots of detailed pictures than it is to visit 5 or 6 houses every weekend for the next month. If we are going to look at houses, plan out the route carefully so that we don’t constantly backtrack.
3. Be the expert.
This one might seem obvious, but don’t forget the simple things. You are the one that knows how this market works, so guide me through this. Put together an info graphic that walks me through the process of buying a home one step at a time. Show me what other first time home buyers have asked as they went through this process. Think about things that I’m going to experience in the home buying process that I can’t learn by googling things. Provide value I can’t find anywhere else.
4. Get Creative
Have you ever thought of using Air BnB or Home Away as a tool to get people to “test drive” a house? What about purchasing a drone and showing me a whole neighborhood in one short video from a bird’s eye view? Virtual reality is back, and this time it is probably here to stay. Find a way to put together virtual tours without breaking your bank. The internet is the new frontier, but it isn’t settled yet. Do something innovative and watch your business grow.
I want all the same things you wanted when you bought your first home. Stability, safety, and a solid financial investment. I might not read newspapers, but I’m still informed about the things I care about. We might not agree on everything, but I still want the world to be a better place. I want to buy a home, but I need your help.
Millennials (but seriously, don’t call us that)
Before you leave, be sure to check out this free research all about how other real estate brokerages are using technology.