Article: Generational Homebuyers

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The most essential skill in any real estate agent’s toolbox is an ability to identify with his or her customer, to discover what a buyer or a seller wants and then execute a sale to benefit all parties. Each transaction and relationship is as unique as the individuals you’re working with. This we all know.

But it does help to have some sort of idea what certain segments of the population are looking for. It’s often intuitive. Just as a young Millennial couple that works in an urban environment probably doesn’t want a stately ranch 15 miles outside of town, a Boomer couple settling into retirement may not want a downtown condo with a bedroom loft.

Obviously there are always exceptions, but there is plenty of market research that suggests it’s wise to pre-tailor some options to clients of a certain age, both in location and amenities.

For example, younger buyers are often willing to sacrifice space for convenience, and a home office is much more desirable than a second (or perhaps even any) guest bedroom. Bankrate offers a slideshow that outlines these concepts and more.

From the article:

“Features such as wood floors (as opposed to carpet) and granite countertops are seen as positives for this generation because they’re both attractive and relatively hassle-free.” 

Technology also is key. Phone and even cable TV jacks will likely go unused, and access to high-speed Internet and cell phone reception for certain carriers is likely to be a question asked early and often. Getting acquainted with those details in your area could give you a leg up.

A final key for selling to Millennials: Online photos. Investing in high-quality shots that look great on a full computer and, more importantly, a mobile phone is a must.

Another thing to keep in mind is whether your Millennial clients have kids or plan to soon. This will factor into location, size and other details.

Millennials parents, on the other hand, have some different expectations. These are the Baby Boomers and (perhaps) early members of Generation X, who didn’t grow up with the Internet and likely have different sensibilities about finances and amenities.

A U.S. News article from 2015 offers some nice perspective on Boomer clients and their hopes for retirement.

According to a recent Merrill Lynch survey of 6,000 adults, on average, home equity among homeowners age 65 and older is more than $200,000. Many boomers look forward to moving to a smaller house or a less-expensive neighborhoodto free up some of their equity to pay for travel, medical expenses, home renovations or other “extra” expenses they know they’ll face at some point in the years ahead.

Other Boomer wishes include renovations, convenience and walkable neighborhoods. And perish the thought of a retirement community: Boomers are increasingly reluctant to live in age-restricted communities or group residences.

And what to make of Gen-X, that generation between the Boomers and Millennials who have a reputation (earned or not) for disaffection. Well, that rep might just fit with the housing market. Gen-Xers were buying their first homes, or upgrading to their first expensive homes, just as the market tanked about 10 years ago. A CNN report indicates Gen-X is increasingly choosing to leave the market and rent.