“Shoot low boys, they’re ridin’ Shetlands.” — Lewis Grizzard
Interesting quote, huh? And kind of funny, too, when you picture a bunch of big, burly cowboys coming over the hill bumbling along on little horses.
Of course, the message is pretty simple: sometimes you have to adjust your strategy to win. And one group you’ll need to adjust for is coming over the proverbial hill: millennials — those born between 1981 and 1997. And yes, they’re riding Shetlands. Put more simply: they’re different. And if you understand those differences — and adjust your aim — you and your bottom line will be just fine.
Why adjust? For one, millennials now outnumber the baby boomer generation. That makes them the single largest generation — 75.4 million strong.
But even more important than their numbers is what they’re preparing for: buying homes. According to Trulia’s 2017 housing report, 83% of millennials say they plan on buying and 72% are looking to buy in 2018.
Another report from Nielsen and the Demand Institute says Millennials will spend around $2 trillion on home purchases in the next five years. Today, there are only about 13 million millennial households in the U.S., but by 2018, that number will rise to 22 million.
Plus, a report from Mizuho Securities says first on their wish lists: a house first, then a car, and then retirement.
And Better Homes & Gardens’ annual survey of trends in U.S. homeownership found that millennials are paving their own paths in homeownership based on their budgets, timeline and needs. They’re replacing big-budget homes and expensive renovations with patience, frugalness and practicality.
Better Homes & Garden report also found:
- 64 percent say the ideal sized home is about 2,100 square feet
- The same percentage want renovated kitchens
- 60 percent want renovated bathrooms
- 59 percent want deck or patio space
- 25 percent call a professional for renovation help – the rest are do-it-yourselfers.
So my suggestion is start now to learn all you can about millennials, particularly how to work with them. Here are my tips:
- Upgrade your digital world. Refresh your website with the latest options and extraordinarily helpful information. Drop the hard sell and focus on what will help visitors with their real estate needs. Also adopt an aggressive social media presence. Research shows well over 80 percent of millennials use Facebook and the vast majority also has accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. And make sure everything you do digitally works on mobile devices. Millennials live on them. As for content, think about ways to market yourself via video.
- Be easy to find. One word: search. Younger buyers start by searching the internet. Money you put into search engine optimization will likely be worth it. Also, register on local business directories and review sites.
- Location, location, location … must be about neighborhoods. Millennials like lively communities near local businesses, restaurants and public transportation. Emphasize hotspots nearby and know details of neighborhoods.
- Think less about selling and more about educating. Few people like to be sold to and this is particularly true of millennials. Instead, they want information – plenty of useful, helpful information. Remember, they grew up with information at their fingertips. They know its value and they’ll respect those who offer it freely. So forget the hard sell and spend more time listening and then educating.
Because I began with a quote, I’ll end with one, from Confucius: “Those who do not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at their door.”