Looking to Attract First-Time Home Buyers?
The real estate business has been driven by referral for generations, but wholly relying on referral might be a problematic idea. You still need to acquire new customers through traditional marketing, ideally provide them with quality service, and watch them become your brand ambassadors in the future. However, if you’re only relying on referrals, and various friend groups/connections of your pre-existing clients aren’t in the market to buy or sell you’ll take a personal financial hit. That’s why a good marketing mix is crucial.
But, it’s a different marketing picture out there today, for two major reasons.
The first is the rapid evolution of tech and, subsequently, marketing tools. Now you have any number of major social networks, plus real estate-driven sites like Trulia and Zillow. You also have a large amount of connection options: email marketing, direct mail, social media, chatbots (yes, those are a thing), Google ads, social media ads, automation suites, etc. It can be overwhelming.
The second major reason is the composition of the market. Now millennials (the age range varies by study, but generally mid-20s to mid-30s professionals right now) are the primary first-time homebuyers. Depending on what you read, this can seem like an audience to avoid as more millennials live at home, and longer, than previous generations. The Atlantic has referred to this generation as “the mobile, but the stuck,” indicating they don’t want to buy houses. And, to complete the trifecta: millennials are less likely to move than previous young adult generations.
The intersection point
At this intersection point, you seemingly have a generation not interested in real estate -- and there are dozens of ways to try and reach them, which can seem daunting.
What do you do?
Your plan of attack on millennial homebuyers
First, shift your narrative that millennials are not in the market to buy homes. They are buying. They are actually the biggest chunk of the housing market right now (34%), which is even higher than boomers -- who tend to have more saved.
So there’s Step 1: you can sell to this group. They are buying.
But now, how do you reach them?
First step: realize that the millennial generation expects to be able to do a lot of research online. That means that your website needs to (a) be mobile-friendly and (b) contain valuable information like:
- House details/pricing
- FAQs from other first-time buyers
- Neighborhood information
- Virtual home tours
- Easy CTA buttons to contact you
- Step-by-step guides to the buying process
- FAQs and other resources on financing
Provide as much as possible up front. Allow them to research and find what they need. Over a period of time, they will engage more directly -- say, for an open house or an in-person home tour.
And remember: millennial communication preference tends to be (1) mobile and (2) online, so have the information on your website, and make sure your website is mobile-optimized. In major CMS platforms like WordPress, you can easily achieve responsiveness on your website and optimize it to look beautiful on all devices.
One fear real estate agents may have is that putting too much out there means they’ll do all this research and head to another agent. Don’t worry about that. While it could happen, the reality of this generation is that if you present yourself as a trusted resource instead of immediately going for the contract, they will come back and bring their business.
Your social media presence should be the same way: less “CALL ME TODAY!” and more articles about the neighborhoods you work in, trends happening, community events, pictures of families hanging out, etc. If you sell the experience and your knowledge about the experience, you will eventually sell yourself.
The role of direct mail with millennials
A lot of real estate agents make this mistake: they assume millennials are not receptive to direct mail. This is actually very wrong, and it’s been backed up by lots of research, including:
- 47% of millennials look forward to checking their mailbox every day
- 40% of millennials read mail thoroughly vs. 18% of non-millennials
- More than 50% of millennials have made a purchasing decision based on direct mail
The bottom line: across a variety of studies, direct mail does work on millennials. And this psychologically makes sense: millennials are the most-connected mobile generation in history, but sometimes the notion of always looking at your phone and being flooded with info can get overwhelming. Periodically they want to see what the mailbox offers or just not be engaged with mobile. You can reach them there.
Put it all together
Millennials are buying homes (good!) and you don’t need some amazing Instagram account with stunning kitchen photos to entice them. You might need a decent Instagram account, sure, and a website with lots of research options and context for them -- but you can also use traditional marketing approaches like direct mail, mixed in with a social presence and become an information authority. Respond to their texts, give them the facts they need, and work those mailers. As you continue to do this, watch your business grow.
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