Insights into Generation Y and Real Estate
Born roughly between 1982-1995, we were the first generation to grow up while the Internet flourished and skyrocketed, a lot of us have gone to college, some say we’re overly casual, we work with headphones on, we like tattoos, we skateboard, we question authority and feel entitled at times, we hate voicemails (I’ve gone 6 months without checking my voicemail…sorry mom!), we know none of our friend’s email addresses, we’re afraid of growing up (pushing “adult” things off until later in life), etc. etc. These are just a few of the sweeping statements you’ll read about my generation if you were to Google “Generation Y”. It’s not entirely fair or prudent to broadly generalize that a generation behaves and acts like this or that. After all, we’d like (Generation Y and others included) to believe that we’re all unique and forge our own paths. With that said, it’s impossible for us to deny that we are products of a time where the way we communicate has COMPLETELY changed… where technology has progressed at blinding rates (I know someone in Iraq who just saw his wife give birth over Skype), where we’ve endured the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, where Social Networks came into being, etc.etc.
As more and more of Generation Y’ers graduate college and struggle to enter the official workforce (hello real world) and actually earn a living, we move more and more towards being THE real estate target market of the foreseeable future….after all, we’re over 70 million strong from what I’ve read. With this new generation inching more and more into the real estate space, the way real estate companies and agents do business will have to (it’s begun) change in order to stay viable in these rapidly progressing times. I spoke with three distinctly different Gen Y acquaintances of mine to get a more diverse flavor of what they expect from a real estate agent, how they search for homes and what motivates them to even want to buy a home in these uncertain times.
Gustavo: You bought a condo within 6 months of graduating from college. How did you find the condo and did you work with a real estate agent?
Chris: Yeah, I started working almost right after school and wasn’t able to save as much as I could have if I moved back home (moved to Philadelphia) but I tried to manage my money as well as I could and got a lot of help from my parents on a down payment. To me it doesn’t make sense to pay rent when I could pay a mortgage and own something for myself. I don’t have much free time so a condo was a nice way to get into it homeownership.
Gustavo: Did you use a real estate agent? How did you find them?
Chris: Eventually yes. I went online and looked at a bunch of properties that looked real nice and seemed reasonably priced. After that I tried to contact a few agents on the Internet. I met with the first one that got back to me and they worked with me to find the right place. You know that I’m in sales so I practically live in my car so it was nice to have an agent who knew how to work with me in different ways than just emailing or talking on the phone. We talked a lot on Gchat from my phone. I knew what I wanted and also knew what I wanted to comfortably spend but I needed a lot of direction on the logistical side of it and she helped me out a lot.
Gustavo: You’ve been working for 4 years near Wall Street and you’re still renting. Will you ever buy your own home?
Mike: Not anytime soon I don’t think. I’ve been here my whole life and I want the flexibility to be able to pick up and take a job in another state or even country if I want or have to. Buying a home is a commitment I don’t think I’m ready for yet. I know it’s a good investment and I do plan on doing it eventually…like 2-4 years probably when I’m ready and the economy is better.
Gustavo: If there’s a new technology out or new must have cool gadget you are always the first person to know about it! You need to seriously lay off the tech blogs… Anyway, both you and your fiancé are actively looking for a home. Being so into the latest gadgets and technologies, how are you leveraging these new platforms to look for a home?
Andre: For me I’m basically doing a little bit of everything really. When I’m home I’m surfing the net looking mostly for information on neighborhoods because my fiancé doesn’t want to live in Jersey City. So I’m using the Net and sites like Twitter and YouTube to try to find a neighborhood nearby that’s closer to her job that has that hip/trendy quality that I need. For me the coolest thing is being able to grab some breakfast on a Sunday with her and use a mobile app to find open houses in the neighborhood where we’re at.
My brief conversations with other members of Generation Y serve to highlight that we’re extremely mobile (we are never still, barely plugged in but always connected), reliant on technology, demanding and informed but still looking for someone to partner up with us.
Tomorrow’s concluding second part will talk to what Generation Y means for real estate and how Real Estate companies can better understand and work with this growing market…
*Photo Courtesy of: Ken