Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Michael Barsky, an associate broker with Sharp Residential, on how agents can stay relevant and communicate effectively with Millennial clients.
A recent study by the National Association of Realtors, the Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, revealed that Millennials are now 31 percent of all homebuyers (and 12 percent of home sellers).
If you are an agent or broker who is closer to Baby Boomer age than Millennial age, you want to come across as an experienced professional on top of their game, rather than as a kindly parent (or grandparent!) who just doesn’t “get it.” There are some simple, but important, things real estate agents and brokers can do to connect better with this particular generation.
7. txt! (text, text) – By now it’s a well-known fact that people under 35 hate voicemail (in fact they often don’t even check it). Even many older people are happy to switch to texting – even if we’re a bit clumsier at it than our younger colleagues. Texts are quicker and easier and they leave behind an easily accessible record of previous information (e.g. which of your listings a particular agent showed and when). Signal that you are comfortable with texting by switching the wording in your Showing instructions to “Text or call agent….”
If you must leave a voicemail, it should be extremely short. Any complicated instructions or important reminders should be in an email anyway. And in your own outgoing phone message, you do not have to remind people to leave their name, phone number, and a brief message—a long outgoing message is a sure way to sound like a senior citizen to these young clients.
6. Update your old-fashioned email address – If you want to keep your younger clients from snickering behind your back, ditch any mindspring, aol, yahoo and earthlink email addresses. Pick an email address that you easily speak. Avoid using numbers that can easily be confused with a letter (for example 1s and ls, or 0s and 0s).
5. Improve your webpage – Every Real Estate agent worth her salt has a webpage already. Spend some time researching how to convert your webpage from just a “digital business card” with listings of properties to an attractive and content-rich site that converts browsers to customers. A good recent article by Burke Smith of the Home Warranty Association gives four key areas to focus on. Depending on the size of your business you might consider hiring someone experienced with real estate websites to design yours. Millennials have been spending hours a day on websites their entire lives, and they are savvy about good design and strong content.
Closely related to improving your webpage is improving your search engine rankings. There are lots of online resources to help you insert key words and content that gets your webpage to the top of the Millennials’ searches. Including videos is very important—Google loves videos. Millennials love videos too, but they are very impatient with any video longer than about three minutes. Don’t waste time with soothing public domain music, long pans through the jack and jill bath upstairs or slow walks up both sets of stairs.
4. Be visible on Social Media – Set up a professional profile on the major Social Media sites—Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (some Agents are increasingly on Pinterest also). Older Millennials tend to prefer Facebook while younger ones use Twitter more. Business people (including many of your higher price point customers) take LinkedIn very seriously. You don’t have to go overboard, but have a strong presence and don’t forget to place your Social Media widgets on your website. Ideas include connecting neighbors through Facebook or “tweeting” new information as soon as you have it—price changes, status changes, new pictures etc.
Power Up: Social Media for Real Estate has free resources and also links to training you can pay for if you want more in-depth help.
3. Understand your Millennials’ browsing behavior – Be aware that no matter how well informed you keep your clients personally and through alerts and emails from FMLS or MLS, your younger clients are still spending hours online googling properties. You can’t stop them, so don’t even try! If they seem to be sending you lots of “suggestions” of houses with out of date statuses, remind them:
- The larger sites (realtor.com; Zillow) get frequent updates directly from the listing service, but if you don’t clear your cookies and history you might not be seeing the latest information.
- Clicking on smaller sites often yields out of date information – try to steer your clients away from these sites and back to your online resources.
2. Be a good sport about the parents being part of the process – Millennials, more than any prior generation, involves their parents, stepparents and siblings in their home buying and selling. It doesn’t always make the process simpler, but it often makes it more interesting!
1. Most importantly – Your younger clients may have similar qualities but, like everyone, they are all unique. Ask them how they prefer to do business with you. Do you prefer texts or phone calls? How often would you like to receive email updates from the Listing service? Do you want me to copy your parents?
Michael Barsky is currently an Associate Broker with Sharp Residential