Marketing To The Generations - Appealing To The Gen X, Y, And Millennial Buyers

Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow

I recently heard Jeremy Conaway, a real estate industry consultant, speak on a subject I personally find fascinating- generational differences when it comes to buying a home.   

Age can be a defining factor, or a generational challenge, when figuring out how to market a home to a particular segment of people.  Different aspects of a home are more important to others, and your marketing can be adjusted to accommodate this.  For example, according to Jeremy:

Civics - This group tends to value safety, security, they often moved within close proximity to other family members.  Neighborhood promotion is what speaks to them.

Boomers- Boomers were consumed with working 80 hours a week and didn't care as much about neighborhood, as they didn't plan on being there long anyway.  They were working towards being able to buy their next bigger home.  Gated communities appealed to them, and big homes with room for all their toys.  Their home could be thought of as a showpiece.    

But let's focus on the group of people who are the next crop of home buyers:

Gen X, Y and Millennials   - Grew up with their parents not being around as much, as they were always working, and are determined to enjoy more family time and be at all the little league games.  The home is the center of their lifestyle, which means open spaces and highly upgrades kitchens for the family to hang out in are important.  Neighborhood is also a very important, as lifestyle is something they think a lot about.

This group of people happen to be among some of the poorest, for a couple of reasons.  First, they are willing to sacrifice higher paying jobs and longer hours for more time at home and secondly, inflation rates have accelerated beyond cost of living rates.  But what makes this group even more challenging is they grew up with all the niceties that their more wealthy Boomer parents were able to provide and they expect that this level of comfort will not change for them.  So while they are making less money, they have high standards.   

Also interesting was Jeremy likened this group to that of a 3 year old, as a person who constantly asks ‘why' throughout the transaction.  Why does the lender need those papers, why do I have to pay title insurance, why has this home been on the market for nine months.  This group of people is very good researching online and because of this wants to feel like an equal in the transaction.  They want to be constantly informed and communicated with along each step of the way. 

The research they are doing also impacts what homes they want to see.  Jeremy threw out a great phrase, calling this crop of homebuyers "frugal chic".   When they say they want to see homes in the 200K, this is the highest price homes they want to see and showing them anything higher makes they feel like their research is being disrespected, which could easily lead to a firing.  Verses when a Boomer says that they want to see homes up to 200K, they are really willing to go up to 300K if they find something they like, as they can probably afford it. 

I realize these statements are painting a big group of people with a single stroke, and obviously isn't going to apply to everyone.  But I find it fascinating to at least realize that there are guidelines out there to help when working with a particular group, as there is some truth when applied to the masses.  

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Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

Sara, these ideas do fit into my experiences, as a boomer I worked hard to save and build the next better home for my family. The young folks I meet today want all the things their parents have/had but don't really have the budget for it. Reality is a fun house mirror you see something of yourself when you look but it's always a little distorted as you move forward or backward.

Oct 13, 2008 05:07 AM #1
Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

Sara excellent post about these different generations and how each one wants and needs are different. You info suggests that they each want something different from their realtor and need to treated accordingly for a successful transaction.

Oct 13, 2008 05:42 AM #2
Fran Gatti
RE/MAX Integrity - Medford, OR
Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity


My family fits the mold to a T. I have 5 generation Y children and my husband and I are model boomers.  This was an interesting read and made a lot of least in my life.

Oct 13, 2008 11:00 AM #3
Justin Ukaoma
Vizion KC - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate Investments

Thanks for the great information Sarah.  I've got this post bookmarked for later reference. 

Oct 13, 2008 01:40 PM #4
Ted Cantu
i Cantu Media LTD - Farmington Hills, MI


This is insightful material. Thanks for spelling this out. I am doing a site that caters to the younger market. I think the values of this market are completely different from previous generations. I find material like this valuable and extremely helpful. Thanks for posting it!

Oct 13, 2008 04:11 PM #5
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

I loved the 3-year old analogy.  No offense to the X and Y generations - but in my experience I would add two comments "instant gratification" and "strong sense of entitlement."

Oct 13, 2008 05:49 PM #6
Peter Thompson
Downers Grove, IL
Chicago Mortgage Insight

Great post, Sarah. The examples match up well with my experiences with these groups. This info will help target blog posts that will be meaningful to them.

Oct 14, 2008 02:28 AM #7
Chad Yates
A2S Smart Choice - Florence, SC
Realtor CEO, Assist2Sell Smart Choice Realty

I think this is a great post and provides a lot of truthful insight. I also notices these trends in my market and being Millennial myself, everything stated seem to be the truth. Well with the exception of family time as my normal work week consist of 7 days and at least 50hrs

Oct 14, 2008 11:21 AM #8
Sabrina Kelley
ERA Herman Group Real Estate - Woodland Park, CO
Woodland Park Colorado Mountain Homes and Land


"instant gratification" and "strong sense of entitlement."

I haven't done too much selling to this group but my general interaction with the group merits the same words and needs or neediness to know for no real valid reason.

Oct 14, 2008 11:31 AM #9
Kevin Teeters
Kevin Teeters Realty LLC - Hickory, NC
Hickory NC Realtors

Sara - I just did a blog today about Second Life.  It seems to be a fantastic way to reach the Gen X, Y and Millennials.  There is an entire way of launching your very real business in the virtual world.  I don't know anyone else who has tried this yet.  If you have a few minutes, maybe read my post and let me know if you've heard anything about this recent phenomenon or if you know of any one else taking advantage of this virtual world.

Oct 14, 2008 11:38 AM #10
Sara Bonert
Zillow - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Internet Marketing

All- Thanks for your comments.  I love that all the generations are represented here in the comment section.  The message needs to be different for these groups, as does the method that these messages are carried out.          

Oct 14, 2008 12:10 PM #11
Caren Wallace
Premier Property Group LLC - Tualatin, OR
Portland Caren Real Estate

For the 30 years I have been a realtor I have witnessed young people wanting what their hardworking parents had after much blood, sweat and tears to achieve! They do want more for less!

Thank you for a very well written post!

Oct 14, 2008 11:25 PM #12
Anthony Stokes-Pereira
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Nanuet, NY

Hi Sara;

Great Post!

I really appreciate all of your truthful insight. Thank You!!!

Oct 19, 2008 06:17 AM #13
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Sara, first of all, you pick great topics to write about. I want to read all of your posts! Being a boomer who stayed at home during the earliy years of my children's lives but have worked ALOT since getting into real estate, I can identify with your post. When I was young, people would save for years to buy their first home. Today people expect it right out of college with no money down. I'd say you've nailed us all!

Nov 03, 2008 01:21 PM #14
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