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What’s New and What’s Next: Millennials, Generation Z and the Alpha Generation

by Marilyn Urso, PMN

P2particleI’ve been a REALTOR® for over 25 years and I have to say, it was a much easier business back when I started – no internet – no cell phones that know everything – and buyers/sellers that I could totally relate to!

Don’t stop reading yet, I’m not suggesting we go back to the past, I’m merely pointing out that the changes in our industry in the last 25 years have been overwhelming for many. Why is that?, you say.

As a Baby-Boomer myself, when I started in real estate 25 years ago the majority of my clients were also Baby-Boomers (or maybe the older Gen Xer’s). I knew their habits, their wants and needs, and I could really relate to them. Some of my seller clients were from the Silent or GI generations, they were like my parents and easy to accommodate and help.  

Then we entered a new century and everything changed! All our listings were on the internet, buyers didn’t need to call us for information about homes for sale, they could sign in and search on their own. We no longer controlled the data. And then they all got cell phones and called us continuously – questions, questions, questions … did we have all the answers?

And look at where we are now! What’s new? Millennials can tell you … What’s Next? Generation Z and the Alpha Generation – Our Grandkids! How can we work with them all and satisfy their real estate needs? And what about all those Millennial agents… can they work with the Baby-Boomer & Silent Generation sellers? As an instructor, these are the challenges I feel need to be addressed for agents to grow and provide the correct type of service to satisfy the needs of today’s real estate consumers.

Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, began to reach adulthood around the year 2000 but they were not ready to buy homes immediately due to the high unemployment, their high student loan debt and tightened credit at that time. Jump ahead to 2017 and they made up 66% of the first time buyer market and will likely have the biggest impact on the real estate marketplace for the foreseeable future - both as consumers and as agents.

So what are the housing preferences and needs of Millennials? Many of the 23-38 year olds rent now or live at home with parents, but most do want to eventually own a home. Their preferences in housing include wanting to live in centrally located urban neighborhoods or at least near urban centers to be close to public transportation, shops, restaurants and work. Their style of home can be described as “essential” – they aren’t necessarily looking for the traditional formal dining room or the living room that’s only used for company! They want a home with lots of technology and if possible it should be green – energy efficient and healthy! The other key for Millennial buyers is that they aren’t afraid to do the work to make an older home their dream. If the floorplan, property and location are good, they feel they can transform it to meet their needs. (YouTube has replaced This Old House for ideas and how-to info for this generation.)

The key factors for working with this generation of buyers is to:

  1. Identify their needs.

  2. Explain the process of buying or selling.

  3. Verify their credit and ability to get financing.

  4. Respond to their requests quickly.

  5. Meet the parents and determine how to work with them also (ask the Millennials).

So now what’s next? Generation Z – those people born after 1995. What’s the difference between Millennials and Gen Z? Well for one thing they are less focused, more capable of multi-tasking – they have an App for that! More of them are also self-starters and future entrepreneurs based upon growing up in the high tech and highly networked world we live in now. They feel they can do it themselves. They expect things to get done quickly and they need to feel appreciated by those they do business with. They are very social – over 90% have a digital footprint and they seek uniqueness in all walks of life. Last but not least Gen Z is more global than Millennials – Diversity will be an expectation with Gen Z.

I’ll ask the Women’s Council favorite question now: Are You Ready? How will you adjust to these new consumers? Perhaps you want to add some Millennials and Gen Z’s to your team. They can help you to understand and communicate correctly to the consumers. Or maybe you should just go home and talk with your children – they can give you the insight and awareness of the coming generations’ needs. The best advice I ever received was “Listen to Understand, Not to Respond”. Thank you Darryl Davis, it works all the time!

 About the Contributor

Urso CircleMarilyn Urso has been a Licensed REALTOR® since 1993 and a member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® for most of her career. She is an Associate Broker working at Homes by Mara Realty in Syosset, NY.  She is actively involved in listing both buyer and seller clients on a day-to-day basis. Marilyn is also a NYS Licensed R.E. Instructor and has been certified to teach several NAR designation programs.

Marilyn’s commitment to and involvement in the Women's Council, as well as her Local Board, has strengthened her real estate career over the years. She is active in her local community and committed to providing outstanding service to all. She is dedicated to helping other agents ‘Raise the Bar’ for our industry.


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