An Afternoon With Millennial Buyers: What We Learned

Our first lunch & learn event is in the books, and boy, did we have a good time. Our lively panel of millennial buyers brought so much insight to our group of attending agents, making it tough to cut the conversation off in time for people to leave!

Want to know what we talked about? We’ve summed up the key learnings.

First, to introduce our panel of millennial Cincinnati home buyers:

  • Ben bought a condo in Over-the-Rhine
  • Reid & Rachel Bauer bought a home in Northside
  • Matt & Kelsey bought a home in East Walnut Hills
  • Caitlyn bought a home in Fort Thomas with her husband, Kile

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Millennials need someone to hold their hand and tell them “everything is going to be ok”.

67% of millennial home buyers are buying for the first time, meaning they likely have no idea what this process will be like. As our panelists noted, they were constantly seeking more information, help, and advice from their agents.

Working with millennial buyers, you need to be ready to answer any and all questions, and likely more than once. One of our panelists, Rachel, said that one of her favorite things about her agent was that she patiently answered her questions over and over again, and didn’t make her feel dumb for not initially understanding parts of the buying process.

Our panelists all agreed that having some informative materials, like PDFs or printouts, would be extremely helpful. Have a few documents ready to share, such as…

  • A timeline of what’s going to happen during this process and what to expect during each step
  • A list (or a .zip folder!) of documents that the buyer will need to fill out, along with the date they are needed
  • An overview of what buyers should expect from you as their agent, and who you’ll be working with – the seller’s agent, inspectors, mortgage specialists, etc.

In addition to being a wealth of knowledge, our panelists noted that they need their agent to be their friend, to be on their side, and to be understanding of the emotional rollercoaster that is buying a home. Rachel and Reid described the anger and sadness they experienced when they lost the home they loved to another buyer. Kelsey and Caitlyn both mentioned crying at certain points of the process!

For most millennials, buying a home is the biggest emotional and financial decision they’ve ever made, and it is stressful, exhausting, and confusing for them. All they need from you is patience, understanding, and reassurance from beginning to end.

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Millennials are starting to move out of the city, but they’re scared.

A handful of our panelists moved out of their downtown apartments to homes outside of the city, and this was a huge, scary adjustment. They were used to walking to work and their favorite restaurants, and having public transportation at their front doorstep. While they’re all happy with their new, more suburban lifestyles, they were adamant about finding homes in walking distance to fun activities, while also still a quick drive to their favorite downtown spots.

As a real estate agent, make sure you are pointing out all that their (potentially) new neighborhood has to offer, comparing it to their current downtown setting. Also, tell them some of the benefits of being farther from the city: quieter, more personal space, easier to host parties or family events, etc. They need some easing into this new lifestyle, and it’s your job to make it a comfortable transition.

You probably already know this, but millennials do NOT want to talk on the phone.

This point was stressed a few times throughout our event, by every single panel member. They don’t want to answer the phone, and you don’t want to waste time leaving messages and playing phone tag. So, stop calling them.

Ben mentioned that he gets frustrated receiving calls during the work day. He can’t get up and leave a meeting or just stop whatever he’s doing. These young buyers would rather have a conversation over text or email, where they can easily check and reply wherever they are.

Have something to talk about that doesn’t really fit in a text? Shoot them a message asking when THEY have 15 minutes to chat on the phone, and let them call you when it’s convenient for them. That way, you aren’t interrupting their day, and you’ll have their full attention during the call.

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Millennials want everything on their time, and on their turf. And make it personal.

Just like they don’t want to answer the phone, millennials don’t want to drive to your office to meet with you. If you want to set up a buyer consultation or grab coffee with a new buyer to talk about what they’re looking for, ask them what’s close to their office/home. Be as convenient to them as possible.

Rachel mentioned that her agent was willing to meet with her at 10pm, since that was the only time Rachel had available. They even chatted over some glasses of wine, which made her feel comfortable, like she was meeting with a friend.

These young buyers aren’t into super professional, business relationships. They want to get to know you, and want you to get to know them and their needs. They’re trusting you to help them with a huge decision, so you need to make yourself as approachable as possible.

Ben noted that his agent took the time to really get to know him, and from then on, he felt comfortable with his agent’s suggestions and advice. Plus, every home they walked into, his agent knew to point out the washer/dryer, since he knew that was extremely important to Ben. Little things like that go a long way!

A lot of millennials are financially ready to buy a home, they just don’t know it yet.

Everyone on our panel mentioned this. They weren’t really looking for homes at first, because they assumed they didn’t have the money. But then they came across a listing, loved the house, and realized “oh my gosh, I could actually afford this!”

It seems like the panel generally didn’t start their home search by deciding they were ready. Instead, the opportunity or idea to buy a home sort of fell in their laps. Rachel had been following Kelsey (her friend and co-founder of Gild Collective) and Matt’s home search, and after seeing that it was actually possible, decided she was ready, too!

So as an agent, if you’re the first one to help them realize they can afford a home, then boom, you’ve got a new client.

Write up a blog post about how buying a home can usually save money compared to renting, then share that blog post on Facebook! Have $10 to spare? Boost the post to people aged 25-35 in your area, and then sit back and wait for these home-hungry millennials to start knocking on your door.


Couldn’t make it to this event? Don’t worry, we plan on hosting more lunch & learns. If you’re interested in learning more about what millennials want from their agents, comment below with topics to discuss at the next event!

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find out when the next event will be!