Marketing real estate to millennials

A lot has changed since Grafik first started working with real estate developers to help them brand and market residential construction projects. To keep ourselves fresh on the latest industry trends and technology impacting homebuyer attitudes, last month we attended the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 

One major theme that everyone was talking about at the conference? Millennial homebuyers. This audience, age 24-44, represents 84 million Americans and will dominate over 50% of mortgage originations in 2020.  While Millennials have long embraced urban rentals and put off home purchases, research shows that 95% of them still want to own a home and are willing to flock to “suburban downtown” communities if it means a better quality of life. 

Consequently, developers from all over the country are focused on meeting Millennial demand for affordable, walkable housing in a number of ways, from Opportunity Zone investments to non-traditional residential housing products. But as the product mix changes to better meet demand, so too should the marketing strategy. Here are several Millennial-focused tactics we recommend real estate marketers work into their 2020 marketing plans as a result:  

Look for opportunities to educate them on the first steps in the homebuying process. Many millennials have never purchased a home before, which means they probably have a lot of questions about how it works. Avoid industry jargon in advertising and focus instead on answering common questions about down payments, credit scores and mortgages.

Consider (furry) purchase influencers: We all know millennials have broken precedent from previous generations not just by delaying home purchases, but marriage and families as well (by 2025, less than 25% of households will have children in them). But we were surprised to hear that the prime incentive for this group to buy a home is actually driven by pets. Showcasing how dog-friendly the neighborhood or building is–and making sure it’s searchable on platforms like Zillow as such–can have a direct impact on its curb appeal.

Highlight the adaptability of spaces in visuals: Choice and flexibility are paramount to this audience. Help them imagine ways they will be able to take advantage of indoor/outdoor spaces, set up shop in a home office, or host in-laws in an English basement. What industry experts call the “Chameleon House” is full of possibilities and can accommodate any life change that comes their way over the next 5-10 years.

Drive them toward middle housing options. Millennials are drawn to duplexes, bungalows, and town homes as affordable alternatives to single family homes that still offer the opportunity to build equity in booming markets. Research shows they are OK with smaller square footage if it can be offset by community amenities and higher end finishes.

Don’t forget about single, professional women. Interestingly, the primary buyers of smaller housing units last year were unmarried working females. Consider the features and amenities that may make your project attractive to this audience (such as walkability and safety), and develop a strategy specifically targeted at driving consideration or tours through events, online channels and brand partnerships.

We had a blast at the conference learning more about what’s in store for this next year as Millennials begin to dominate the real estate market. If you’re currently planning a development, or need help reaching the right audiences for an existing one, let us know! You can also check out some of our recent real estate work here.

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