I read a blog post today (entitled “Selling House Porn to Gen X and Y” but that’s another story) and it got me thinking about how different generations of buyers approach the purchase of a new home.
Think about the Boomers who grew up without the internet and, generally, with a defined job role. If they needed to get their finances in order, they called an accountant. If they were worried about their insurance coverage, they called their insurance rep; if they wanted to buy a house they called a Realtor. They put their trust in an expert to accomplish their goals.
Move on to their children, Gen X, the empowered generation who grew up believing they could be and do anything. They were immersed in the evolution of the internet and all things PC. When they think of doing their finances they install Quicken or MSMoney. If they’re looking for new insurance options they comparison shop on the internet. When they start looking for a house they sign up on Redfin and read blog articles about home loans, escrow and “10 ways to ensure success in your short sale purchase”. In short, if it’s not on a website, it doesn’t exist or is suspect at least.
Then there’s Gen Y, the “don’t touch that unless it’s been sanitized” generation. They’re growing up with Smartphones, Facebook and an “instant gratification” environment. They want information now in 3 different languages and summarized 6 different ways; isn’t there an app for that? When they’re worried about their finances they’ll take a quick glance at their Droid which is consolidating all their financial info for them behind the scenes and presenting it in the format they most desire. If they need insurance, they’ll plug in their requirements and choose between the 3 closest matches. When they want to buy a house, they’ll expect the perfect match to “ping” them when it comes on the market, set up an appointment to view, suggest home loan options, advice on purchase price and then guide them there by GPS. Oh and by the way, they’ll want their friends to “like” it before they’re comfortable it’s a good buy.
As listing agents if we’re not catering to all 3 generations then we’re doing a disservice to our sellers. When a home is listed we need to make sure it’s presented at its best for all three. That means ensuring it’s well publicized in agent circles in a form they can easily send to their clients; it means widely distributing professional and meaningful pictures and information on all the major buyer websites (as well as the smaller boutique sites) and making it easy for those buyers to come by without an agent; and it means making comprehensive information about the home instantly and easily available in mobile format when a buyer just happens to drive by.
I wonder what Gen Z will bring? Home purchase in your sleep?