If your company is hoping to cater to millennial clients, a good place to turn is inward—tap into the wealth of creativity put out by millennial real estate professionals.
Real Estate Advisor Denise Gomez (top left) and REALTOR® Erika Borunda (bottom left) serve the San Diego, Calif., market with Canter Brokerage, an innovative real estate firm that is home to dozens of young, creative real estate professionals.
“San Diego’s spot as one of the top housing markets is the result of a limited supply of homes for sale and an increased demand,” says Borunda, a NAHREP North County San Diego Board Member and president-elect for the NAHREP La Jolla Chapter, launching in January 2017.
Who is stoking the San Diego housing fire? Mid-level and first-time buyers. “Millennials are starting to come around now that banks are implementing first-time homebuyer programs with as little as 3-5 percent down,” says Borunda. “After the Brexit vote hamstrung the Fed’s ability to raise interest rates, 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell to historic lows. Combine that with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bringing back 3 percent down mortgages, and increasing wages, we should see very strong millennial buying trends forthcoming.”
To position themselves for success with millennials, the Canter team is arming themselves with a league of young, innovative professionals. Here, Gomez and Borunda offer tips for working with millennial buyers.
Be tech-savvy. “Millennial buyers differ from other buyers in the sense that they start their home-buying process by utilizing online home search websites,” says Gomez. “Technology available at the click of a button definitely makes today’s buyers a bit more savvy.”
Be social. According to Borunda, millennials trust social media more than anything else. “They’re no longer going to websites to find you. If you’re not using some form of social media, then it’s likely you will not attract millennials,” Borunda says. “The first place they look is social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat. Yelp has been a critical place to find reviews on your business, on top of Zillow as well.”
Gomez concurs. “Being well aware of what technology millennial buyers are using to begin their searches can really give you a great screenshot of what sources are informing your buyers.”
Expand your communication avenues. The days of actually talking to your clients on the phone are gone…if your clients happen to be millennials. “Text is the preferred method of communication, and although they’re using a phone, there’s a hesitancy to actually talk,” says Borunda. Be ready to communicate with potential buyers through text, email, and even Facebook chat.
Understand their budgets. While it’s important to know your client’s budget, millennials are more in debt than any other generation, and it’s good to know why. “Salaries are lower for millennials, and they’re saddled with debt,” Borunda explains. “Even those who’re making good salaries are paying off big student loans.”
Understand their priorities. A home in the suburbs with an extra bedroom for a maybe baby is no longer the recipe for a starter home. “Millennials see workplace flexibility as critical to quality of life,” says Borunda. “They’re waiting to marry and start families. They want to live in places that are walking distance to restaurants, work and entertainment.”
Make sure you’re on the cutting-edge. “Our team really sets itself apart by ensuring our marketing material is always on the cutting-edge in content, style and design,” says Gomez. “We have a newsletter that goes out every week providing information pertaining to what events are going on in San Diego, along with what projects we have in the present, and future. Keeping our clients well aware of what’s going on makes them feel like they’re in the know of the latest and greatest.”
Create a winning buyer presentation. “A buyer presentation is just as important as a listing presentation, especially when you’re working with first-time homebuyers that don’t know what to expect,” says Borunda. “There’s only a tiny fraction of buyers agents who do buyer presentations, and it’s mind boggling!”
Borunda suggests creating a slick, easy-to-read packet that explains everything from getting pre-approved to submitting offers, opening escrow, releasing contingencies and receiving your keys. “If you can cover all these critical points over a lunch and ensure your client is informed and knows some basic terminology and expectations of the buying process, not only will you stand out as an agent in a very saturated industry, you’ll have very happy clients and a smooth transaction. Everyone wins.”
Be a system for support. “In spite of all of the confidence put out by millennials, there’s an inner insecurity in understanding the process of real estate,” says Borunda. “Experienced agents know the difference between the flow chart and how things really work. There’s no program or app for this knowledge—there’s just you.”
How else can you attract modern millennials? With a modern company. Gomez and Borunda both agree that the Canter brokerage isn’t your typical real estate company. With a rich company culture, appealing office locations and a collaborative vibe, the team is thriving. “We all bring each other up on a daily basis and share business practices that are working and are happy to collaborate and share ideas with one another,” says Borunda. “I’m a firm believer that you’re a product of your environment, so I surround myself with the best. It’s rare to find that kind of environment at other firms.”
One thing that allows Canter to stand above the rest is their Development and Wealth Management component.
“We constantly have clients who just sold their home and have equity and want to invest their money,” Borunda explains. “Lucky for us we have our Wealth Management Team that’s able to come in and help discuss financial portfolios with our clients and set them up.”
So how can you attract creative, young agents to your team? Have an office culture that promotes quality and individuality.
“When interviewing for other real estate firms, it seemed like a recruitment strategy based around numbers rather than quality,” says Gomez. “Our company owner Andrew Canter goes out of his way to show his appreciation for each and every one of us. Overall, I would say each of us feels like we’re truly appreciated as a person, not as just another number.”