Working with Young Buyers

Is a client ever too young to buy a home? Technically, as long as a person is old enough to sign contractual agreements in your state, they are old enough to purchase a home. Whether they are ready for the responsibility has much more to do with financial maturity than age.

Younger buyers may be reaching that level of maturity earlier than you’d think, given their student loan experience. Despite stories of young adults struggling with debt, many more are repaying it without incident. Dealing successfully with that level of debt—and the planning and budgeting it requires—is good preparation for the discipline needed to repay a mortgage.

Serving the Youth Market

Members of both Gen Z and Gen Y (Millennials) are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to information. They grew up with the expectation that they can Google instant answers on any topic with a few thumb taps. They are also used to previewing the things they are interested in purchasing online. However, they look to professionals like you for the guidance they need to make the best decision possible.

This entails knowing the fundamentals (two bedrooms, two baths, etc.) as well as the details and history of that home. More importantly, it means using your experience to point out specific pros and cons as they relate to a client’s objectives, lifestyle, and budget. It also means fully understanding each client’s motivations and the type of experience they are looking to have, both as a buyer and as an owner. This may involve reframing the questions you ask when you first sit down with them and adding a few more to your list:

1. How do they make decisions?

When you work with a young buyer, it’s best to think “social network.” Whether this means bringing parents along to showings or snapping and sending pictures to their social circles for instant feedback, anticipate that you will likely be part of a larger team. When you find yourself in this situation, try embracing your role and, when asked, speak to the larger group. After all, if your buyer is happy, you’ll gain access to a circle of potential buyers and sellers who already know you and have “worked” with you.

2. What type of home owning adventure do they seek?

While some young buyers want to create a home by putting sweat equity into it for a more personal and crafted experience, others may just want it all done for them. In most cases, young buyers are likely to have limited resources. When looking for potential homes, you may want to favor those that need cosmetic fixes, as opposed to major kitchen and bathroom renovations. These homes might already have kitchens that offer sufficient room for hanging out, home office spaces, easily maintained surfaces, and sustainable features—all attributes that appear to be coming to the forefront for young buyers.

3. What needs to be nearby?

Many buyers will want to be around people with similar interests. Learn what your buyer is interested in and find properties that will fit with the lifestyle they envision for themselves. 

Reality Check

A young buyer may not be an experienced buyer. They may, however, be experienced TV watchers. Over a decade of real estate programming could have them expecting more than sound advice; they may be craving a buying experience. This could  require you to help them separate the “staged” aspects of the experience from the “real.” It may also mean helping them celebrate their own “reveal” moment when they sign their first contract.