Although the median age of real estate agents is 54, more young brokers are entering the field and millennials (ages 22 to 39) now make up 18% of the agent population. Millennials now comprise 36% of home buyers and are interested in real estate investing and generally skeptical of the stock market as an investment.
Although younger buyers and investors have grown up with technology and often look to real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia, 89% of millennials still say they would use an agent. That doesn't necessarily mean that this generation only trusts agents in their age range. However, established brokers need to stay on top of trends in order to compete in tomorrow's real estate market.
Stay Ahead With Technology
Technology will be the primary differentiator. Building trust among clients and prospects requires that a savvy broker stay one step ahead of the market, utilizing all the data available to meet consumers' needs.
The new broker:
Will use technology to pinpoint neighborhood trends, assess neighborhood potential, and estimate renovation costs
Utilizes digital media, especially text messaging, to communicate with potential buyers and sellers
Understands the value of social media, video and highly targeted direct marketing in advertising campaigns
Hold on to Relationships
Having a deep understanding of technology and how to use it is no longer an option for successful agents and brokers. However, building relationships will remain a key element of the selling process. In fact, it may become even more important as buyers will look to trusted agents and brokers to help them interpret data, make the best choices, and handle negotiations. Many buyers are age blind when shopping for a home or investing.
Gary Depersia, an agent with Corcoran and one of the top real estate brokers in the Hamptons, says "The top brokers in the Hamptons are all over 55. We all understand how to use the internet and have stayed on top of trends. I recently sold a $10 million house to a 33-year-old and I'm now selling homes to kids of parents I worked with 15 to 20 years ago." He believes that "being a great broker is about understanding the market, knowing how to listen, and understanding the inventory. People still come to brokers because of their experience and reputation — especially when making a significant investment."
Build Your Online Brand
A component of establishing and communicating that reputation is knowing how to use social media and digital public relations to establish a powerful personal brand, and differentiating your capabilities and track record as a broker/agent from others in your field. Millennials will interview 2.7 real estate brokers before engaging one, compared to 1.6 for baby boomers, according to a study by Zillow.
Online reviews are especially important in the final decision making, so tomorrow's brokers must stay on top of their digital footprints and encourage satisfied clients to use online "word of mouth" to build their brand perception. In fact, between 46% and 57% of younger real estate investors look to online reviews, compared to 29% to 30% of older buyers.
According to a report from The Close, the most successful agents (those earning $100K or more in commission income) are more than twice as likely to use advanced technology tools, but 48% of agents still struggle with staying on top of technology.
Human relationships in the real estate industry will always be essential, but leveraging technology to find deals, market and communicate, and share your successes as a broker will all become critical ways to remain competitive — and let your customers know that you truly know the market.