Millennials can breathe a sigh of relief.
While so much has been said about millennials’ complicated relationship with the housing market that it’s achieved meme status, the spotlight is finally moving to our newest cohort of young adults – Generation Z.
The oldest members of this generation – defined by Pew Research Center as those born between 1997-2012 – are now approaching the age where they’re beginning to think seriously about homeownership. This means that real estate professionals who want to know how to market to and work with them need to start getting familiar with what makes Gen Z so unique.
How Are They Different?
Generation Z is on track to be the most diverse and best-educated generation we’ve seen, according to Pew. This is reflected in the things they want out of homeownership; for them, homogenous neighborhoods and communities are a no-go. And while they have plenty of student loan debt to spare, they don’t seem to be as sure it’ll keep them from their homeownership goals as millennials were.
Gen Z doesn’t know a world without computers or the internet. They spent much of their adolescence with smartphones capable of accessing the internet anytime, anywhere. While mobile devices are increasingly becoming the primary means of accessing the internet for people of all ages, Gen Z was and is at the forefront of this. Their phones, likely both for better and for worse, hold a huge chunk of their lives.
They’re also smart, good at self-educating and don’t want to be talked down to. They do a lot of their own research before making big purchases, so don’t be surprised if your Gen Z clients tend to come into the process already more educated than other first-time homebuyers typically would be.
Gen Z And Homeownership
This generation, like the ones that have preceded it, considers homeownership to be an important goal. However, the question is whether they will realistically be able to achieve it in the way that older generations have. Millennials had a similar problem: planning for homeownership but not having the finances for it. Will Gen Z be able to bridge this gap?
Though it’s still early, the numbers are looking promising. A 2018 Realtor.com® study found that this cohort is serious about planning for homeownership, and because they’re inheriting a job market that’s better than what many of their older millennial siblings came into, they may be able to turn their home buying dreams into reality.
Gen Zers also seem to be much less interested in the so-called American Dream as a motivator for homeownership. While 37% of millennials and 35% of Gen Xers listed wanting to live the American Dream as a reason for wanting to become a homeowner, only 29% of Gen Zers did. What they seem to be most interested in is having the ability to customize their space, with 61% of Gen Zers listing this as a reason for wanting to be a homeowner, compared to 54% of Millennials and 47% of Gen Xers.
What Real Estate Agents Should Be Doing
What does all this mean for you when it comes to marketing to Generation Z? Let’s take a look at some things real estate agents should be thinking about when coming up with their business strategies around this group.
Have A Great Online Presence
Make sure your overall online presence is good, and address any negative reviews that may be out there, responding to apologize or offer a resolution if necessary. Rest assured, your Gen Z clients willGoogle you, and if they don’t like what they find, they’ll go somewhere else.
It’s also important that your professional website is streamlined. As we already mentioned, the main way people in this generation access the internet tends to be through their mobile devices. This means savvy real estate professionals who want to stay u to date with what their clients are looking for should be sure that their internet presence is optimized for mobile browsing. In fact, according to research from the National Retail Federation, over 60% of Gen Zers they surveyed said they wouldn’t use an app or website that loads slowly or is difficult to navigate.
Utilize Technology (The Right Way)
While technology is a big part of Gen Zers’ lives and should be part of your business strategy, they tend not to be too impressed with technology for technology’s sake. They want tech that’s going to make their lives, and in this case, the home buying process, easier. This could be as simple as helping your clients utilize online listings to prescreen so they can spend less time physically going from house to house, upping your social media game to reach younger potential clients where they spend a lot of their time, or adding a chat function to your website that can answer their questions in real time.
You should also be sure to dedicate some technology to making sure that all the personal information they share with you is safe, as data security is important to this generation, and they want to know they can trust you with their information. The National Association of REALTORS® has a helpful toolkit for this.
Gen Z appreciates good customer service and swift communication. Though it can be difficult to manage getting out quick responses for everything when you’re working with several different clients at a time, making sure you’re getting back to all your clients’ queries in a timely manner is of the utmost importance.
Text is a great way to stay in frequent contact with your clients if you just have quick updates or simple questions for them. And make sure to keep the lines of communication open both ways. Let them know that you’re always available to answer a text if they have questions of their own.
Provide Value Outside The Transaction
Gen Zers eschew traditional marketing tactics. Traditional advertising feels inauthentic to them and can make them want to look elsewhere. Instead, look for ways to provide them value through content marketing.
Incorporating content marketing into your marketing strategy could include things like commissioning well-designed infographics detailing the home buying process or creating an “Ask A Real Estate Agent” type video series that answers common questions home shoppers have, and featuring these elements on your website and promoting them on social media. Or, if you’re a good writer, you could write the occasional blog post or house hunting guide.
Gen Zers are incredibly diverse, and they value diversity in their communities. Social consciousness is a big deal for this generation, so they tend to prefer working with businesses and brands that reflect their values. Make sure you’re being inclusive to people of all races, ethnicities, identities and backgrounds, not just in your marketing, but in the way you do business and interact with your clients.
Remember that with every client, you’re working with an individual, not an entire generation. While the advice listed here can help you understand where they’re coming from, the most important thing you can do for your Gen Z clients is to build a rapport and understand them on an individual level.
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