A recent article by Nina Hollander reminded me of how silly it is to indulge in stereotyping real estate clients – or anyone else.
Since her article was about stereotyping baby boomers, let’s begin there.
The first thing to remember is that the baby boomer generation extends over 18 years – from 1946 to 1964. That alone should alert anyone to the fact that not all boomers have the same real estate goals. Among other things, keep in mind that some boomers do commute to work every day, and that does affect real estate decisions.
Next, the oldest boomers are only 74. While some people at 74 think of themselves as “old,” not all do. In fact, I’d guess the majority do not.
Not all boomers want to downsize. In fact, some want to “upsize” to make room for members of their extended families. I know quite a few boomers who are raising their grandchildren and some who are in 3 and 4-generation households. Others simply enjoy having plenty of space in their homes.
Not all baby boomers avoid homes with stairs. Some enjoy having them for the added exercise, especially in winter.
Don’t assume baby boomers are technologically disadvantaged.
Some are experts and own all the latest electronics. Some are the programmers who write the software you use.
Most can send you an email or do an Internet search. Some are hooked on Facebook for staying in touch with far-flung family and friends – or they use it for business. While it is true that some do avoid computers, that can be said of other age groups as well. Some people simply don’t like them.
When prospecting to boomers, avoid assumptions.
My “Senior Relocation” prospecting letter set takes all of this into consideration – suggesting a variety of reasons why someone over 55 might want to sell a home.
Generation X bore the brunt of the housing crisis…
Because so many in generation X were at prime home-buying age when the housing crisis hit, this age group experienced the largest percentage of foreclosures. However, not all did, so don’t assume that your new clients have credit issues and are trying to rebuild after that disaster.
Ladies in generation X can be credited with busting the myth that single women don’t buy homes. Today, that’s common. Not so before they came along. Today even single women of the Silent Generation buy homes.
What about stereotyping real estate clients when they’re millennials?
That doesn’t work either. Born from 1977 to 1992, there is a 15 year age gap between the oldest and the youngest.
When it comes to home ownership, we’ve heard opposite myths.
- One says they’re too lazy to work, so live at home in Mom’s basement. They have no money, no ambition, and are not prospective home buying clients.
- The other says they’re hard-working, ambitious, and buying more homes than any other generation.
Obviously, those who are only 19 may not yet be ready for homeownership. They may, in fact, still be living at home – and possibly still going to school.
Millennials who are married (or not) and have children may be more likely to desire home ownership, and may have different ideas about what they want in a home than a single 20-something.
Notice all the times I’ve said “may” rather than “will.” That’s because (thankfully) no two people are alike.
Jumping back a bit…
Don’t let stereotyping real estate clients lead you to discount the Silent Generation.
The silent generation, people now aged 75 to 95, buy fewer homes – but they DO buy homes. Additionally, they are likely to have a house to sell.
Statistics https://survey1inc.com/the-silent-generation-downsizing-homes-joining-senior-related-housing/ say they prefer condos, duplexes, and generally smaller homes, but it is still not safe to assume.
And what about Generation Z – 1997 to 2012?
Stereotyping might say they aren’t real estate clients just yet, but that’s not true. As of a year ago, NAR reported that 2% of homes were sold to Generation Z buyers.
Your next Generation Z buyer could be a millionaire, intent on increasing his or her fortune through real estate.
Instead of stereotyping your real estate clients, treat each as an individual.
Don’t assume you know anything about them, their wants, or their needs. Instead, talk to them. Ask Questions. Learn their goals and their dreams.
Find out if they’re buying with the thought of selling again in just a few years, or if they expect their next home to last a lifetime. If they’re planning to stay put, help them think ahead to their needs 10 years from now.
Is it safe to make some assumptions in prospecting?
Sure, you can assume some things about people who are grouped by circumstances rather than age. But do it carefully.
- It’s safe to assume that someone who has received a Notice of Default is worried.
- It’s safe to assume that a divorcing couple may want to meet with their agent separately.
- You can probably assume that someone who has lived in the same house for 20 or 30 years may not be looking forward to sorting their belongings – or to disposing of some things.
- Right now it’s safe to assume that some people may be fearful of selling because it means letting strangers into their homes.
- It should be safe to assume that first time buyers, along with anyone who hasn’t purchased or sold a home recently, might appreciate an agent who will take time to explain the process and the pages and pages of paperwork.
- You might safely assume that someone who is relocating to your city might want extra assistance in choosing a neighborhood that will give them an easy commute to work, school, recreation, etc.
At the same time, it is safest to include those assumptions as possibilities rather than something you “know” about the people you’re prospecting to. Even someone who owns a vacant rental property may be holding on to it for a reason that hasn’t occurred to you.
boomer on phone courtesy of morguefile.com
Gen Z buyers Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net