The Millennial Mind: Frugal, Inquisitive and Ready to Buy

by James McClister

Ninety-two million Millennials represent the largest living generation and the future of homebuying.


Millennials, while not the most active buyers and sellers, are real estate’s most important demographic, and for one reason in particular: there are so many of them.

At 92 million strong, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are the largest living generation, dwarfing Baby Boomers, who long held the title at 77 million, according to research from Goldman Sachs. But unlike the generations, who paved the way for their descendant generation, Millennials offer pronounced differences in economic standing, preference and lifestyle from past generations, and those differences demand changes to marketing and overall selling strategy that go far beyond out-of-date language or relatability.

For instance, despite 93 percent of currently renting Millennials admitting to ambitions of homeownership, they’re burdened with more debt and less savings. In 2003, average student debt among 25 year olds was $10,649 – by 2013, it had ballooned to $21,000, and the burden is only growing.

To sell to Millennials, agents need to know how to talk to Millennials, and that means understanding their makeup and disposition.

The Generation of the New Millennium

The Millennial moniker is apropos, because they truly are the generation of the new millennium – as evident by their obsession with technology and new media, especially in the purchase process. Thirty-eight percent of Millennials, for instance, use social media to explore a service, product or brand, compared to only 11 percent of Boomers.

But what Millennials are discussing is decidedly different from Boomers and Generation Xers. Consider:

  • When exploring their options, 55 percent of Millennials admit they don’t necessarily care about purchasing a product or service based on a particular brand.
  • When they are shopping by brand, 33 percent are looking at price more than quality – only 27 percent of non-Millennials make purchases based on similar standards.

Getting on Their Level

Millennials are digital natives, watching more TV, playing more video games and communicating more online than their generational peers. But while it sounds as though our youth has devolved into cyber-inclined couch barnacles, Millennials are also more dedicated to fitness than their predecessors. For real estate professionals, that means reaching and marketing to Millennials will require a wholly new tact.

Quick, concise communication is key, especially when it clearly emphasizes affordability and value. That’s not to say Millennials make uniformed purchases, but rather, they’re more inclined to conduct independent research. However, providing easy access to informational avenues would certainly give agents a leg up.

For agents to effectively corner the eventual wave of Millennial buyers projected to hit the market in forthcoming years, it’s important they ask themselves pointed questions:

  • Are you presenting young homebuyers with the information they need, and in the format they want?
  • Is your website intuitive and informational, and are you incorporating content across all platforms, including social media?
  • Do you readily share agent reviews online?
  • Do your listings provide information additional to standard price and location, such as school and walkability scores?
  • Is your website, and any accompanying promotional materials (i.e. e-blasts, brochures, online ads), visually stimulating and designed to incorporate a smooth transition from desktop to mobile?

Answering those questions is the first step in developing a strategy targeting Millennials.

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