Marketing to Millennials: 9 home-buying trends

With a strong emphasis on technology, millennials are changing the way homes are purchased.

It’s been said that Millennials represent the Holy Grail for marketers who wish to capture the attention —and business—of the next generation.

Millennials are typically categorized as being between the ages of 18 and 35. They account for about 25% of the U.S. population but 32% of all homebuyers, per the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Homebuyer and Seller Generational Trends. As that group continues to move into adulthood, it’s reasonable to expect many more will aspire to own a home. As that happens, the home-buying process could be transformed.

What will that entail and what will it take for mortgage companies and real estate agents to gain Millennials’ trust and win their business? Below are nine things to know about millennials, their preferences and the trends they’re setting when it comes to buying a home.

1. It starts with technology

Obviously, right? Yes, but the impact may be even greater than you realize. According to the National Association of Realtors, over half of millennials search for homes on their phones. Of that group, more than a quarter ends up buying a home they found that way.

2. Fewer phone calls, more texting and emailing

Communications across the board are not what they used to be. Members of Generation Y are quick to ignore calls, but text messages may receive a response in seconds. Some may view it as less personal, but it’s how the younger generation operates and accommodating their preferred means of communication could mean a smoother process.

3. Brands need to have a formidable online and social presence

Perhaps by now this goes without saying. But in a world filled with online reviews, testimonials are important as ever. Whether a consumer enjoys a good experience or suffers through a bad one, everyone now has a voice with sites like Yelp and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. These are often the same mediums consumers use when conducting their research.

4. Desire to be near, but not necessarily in, a metropolitan area shares data that suggests more Millennials (11%) opt to live in urban areas than baby boomers (5%), but both groups find life in the suburbs appealing. A combined 50% of millennials prefer to be in either the near or outlying suburbs.

5. When it comes to cities, there’s a lot to consider

A thriving job market and affordability of renting or buying a home are consensus priorities for Millennials contemplating a move to a new city. But what else factors in? Niche’s 2016 Best Cities for Millennials suggests that there is also an emphasis on access to bars, coffee shops and restaurants. A study conducted by apartment search site Abodo even offers that availability of quality pizza is of importance. Many young professionals value their careers, but a vibrant social existence is also desired.

6. There’s a willingness to wait

After reviewing more than a century’s worth of data, the Wall Street Journal concluded that among those aged 18 to 34, almost 40% still live at home with their parents. It’s the highest that figure has been since the end of the Great Depression. Whether it’s a general level of contentment or a strategic move to build up equity, it shows some millennials are in no hurry to buy a home.

7. Different strokes for different folks

Whereas reports that 71% of baby boomers prefer living in a single-family home, Millennials have more diversified tastes with 39% opting for single-family homes and 34% choosing a townhome. Interest in condos among the groups is similar, while twice as many millennials (15%) prefer multifamily homes compared to baby boomers (7%).

8. Life moves pretty fast—so should the home-buying process

News is now consumed in real time. On demand concepts are the norm. So it comes as no surprise that a desire for a quicker process is prevalent as ever. After all, why should something take two months when it can be done in half the time or less? Becoming quicker and more efficient will serve real estate agents and mortgage companies well in the coming years.

9. Keep it real

The younger generation has displayed a tendency to do their homework and consider all their options. This may relate to the timing of a purchase or the type of property, but it also comes into play when selecting a real estate agent or mortgage lender. Thus, honesty and transparency remain vital to the home-buying process. “Finding a real estate agent I can trust is difficult,” reads an open letter from Millennials on Rethink’s website. “And no, seeing your face on a billboard or a bus bench isn’t going to help.”

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