A Millennial Mindset

A Millennial Mindset

Generational shifts are spurring real estate professionals to take advantage of new tech tools

By Lisa Mihelcich, COO, zipLogix®

The Evergreen State has emerged as one of the fastest growing states in the nation in terms of population, with the U.S. Census Bureau marking a 5 percent uptick in residents between 2010 and 2014. While this population surge is a boon for real estate professionals, it’s important to understand that a significant percentage of the state’s newest residents are members of the influential and much-discussed millennial generation.

As more new residents move to Washington — and as that demographic becomes younger with each passing year — the real estate industry is inevitably evolving to adapt to those demographic realities. With an influx of younger residents looking for both jobs and homes, Washington real estate professionals are faced with circumstances that represent both challenges and opportunities.

Connecting with Millennials and adapting to an expanding client base that has higher expectations about service and efficiency, and requires a deeper understanding of new tools and techniques that can make the home buying process more efficient, more secure, and more convenient. Understanding the obstacles, and familiarizing yourself with the intricacies and operational realities of the wide range of sophisticated new technology tools that are now available, should be a point of emphasis for Washington’s real estate professionals.

New categories and stronger connections

One factor that many real estate brokers fail to account for when servicing a population that is undergoing a generational shift is the way in which a significant age difference can create a disparity in terms of home buyers’ expectations. That dynamic can be an issue in Washington, where the average age difference between the millennials who make up the lion’s share of first-time homebuyers coming into the market and the brokers they are working with can be substantial (the average real estate broker is in his or her mid-50s, while millennials are in their 20s and early 30s).

Millennials prize efficiency, and are accustomed to a speedy and streamlined service experience. Intimately familiar with technology, both in their everyday personal lives and in their commercial transactions, millennials subsequently have very different expectations regarding the role that technology can and should play in the home buying process. In other words, they are not just comfortable with the use of technology, they are oftentimes uncomfortable without it. Consequently, brokers must adjust to those higher expectations and should familiarize themselves with the devices, systems and software that are becoming an increasingly prominent part the home buying process.

Working with millennials requires more than just some technical know-how, however. Brokers who want to be successful in enhancing their millennial appeal in a changing marketplace should also make an effort to better understand the habits, priorities and preferences of millennials. Brokers should understand that this is a demographic group that tends to rely much more heavily on online reviews and recommendations when selecting an broker. They are a group that not only frequents social media, but also utilizes social media for many of their social and professional transactions. Perhaps most importantly, millennials are a group that generally prefers to respond to emails with another email and to texts with a text. Brokers looking for sustained success with this emerging group of buyers would be wise to understand these preferences and modify their behavior accordingly.

Leveraging technology in new ways

In this brave new world of real estate technology, forward-thinking brokers are leveraging new tech tools to gain insights and improved functionality — not just as a way to gather more information. Increasingly powerful and versatile mobile devices, technology systems and platforms have introduced improved ways to communicate, and to do so faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In that context, the role of a real estate broker changes. The real estate professional will need to serve less as a gatekeeper and more of as an advisor: interpreting data, helping prospective homeowners understand the nuances of the market and the community, and ultimately helps use technology to make buying a home easier. Brokers will set themselves apart if they are equipped with current industry technology, have extensive local market knowledge, can provide sound counsel to whether a house is a good investment, and can determine whether an asking price is fair.

Building relationships for sustained success

New tech tools are not changing the rules of the game, they are simply changing some of the strategies participants use to play — and win. Ironically, these very new digital tools are helping to refocus the industry on some very old-school ideas about the vital importance of building strong relationships. They provide a convenient and service-minded way to connect buyers and brokers and make the process of buying a home simpler and more efficient.

As the Washington marketplace continues to skew to a younger demographic, technology will continue to play an increasingly prominent role in the real estate industry. Ultimately, brokers who are able to understand and integrate these new tools into their operation, and who can use them to connect and communicate with buyers, will find that they are building stronger relationships in the process. And, at a time when new residents, new technologies and new opportunities are shaping the future of the marketplace for Washington’s real estate professionals, those relationships may just be the key to a future of sustained success.

Lisa Mihelcich serves as COO of zipLogix, a Mich.-based technology company created by, owned by and working for real estate professionals to improve productivity and efficiency industry wide. Its software automates and simplifies the repetitive and complex steps of real estate transactions, and is used by more than 650,000 real estate professionals across the country. For more information, visit www.zipLogix.com.

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