Homebuilding and Buying: How Millennials are Different

by Paul Cardis
If you’re at a loss when it comes to marketing to millennials, you’re not alone. A quick Google search on the subject yields approximately 26 million results: articles with titles like “8 Modern Tips for Marketing to Millennials,” “How to Market to Millennials: 5 Brands Who Are Doing it Right,” and “The Psychology of Marketing to Millennials.”
Millennials — the roughly 75 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996 — are about to bypass baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult population. That being said, it comes as no surprise that their buying preferences have significant impact on every industry they touch.
The beer industry is one that has been severely impacted by the purchase habits of millennials, who are creating a mounting crisis for beer industry giants like Coors Light, Budweiser, and Heineken. In fact, beer sales are slipping as millennials diverge from the preferences of preceding generations, choosing wine and spirits over beer. Some key players in the beer industry, to their credit, have started to adapt to millennial preferences, launching new products in an attempt to reverse declining sales.  
Another industry being shaken up by millennials? You guessed it — the home buying and homebuilding industry. Millennials are different buyers than the generations that came before them. A few key buying habits define them:

  1. They’re very cautious and they want to be informed. Millennials grew up during the great recession. Some saw their parents struggle to pay their mortgage, or even lose their home. On top of that, many millennials carry a ton of student debt. As a result, they won’t make homebuilding decisions lightly, and they’ll seek out as much information as possible prior to making a decision. Homebuilders that can provide comprehensive information and be readily accessible to answer questions will thrive in a millennial-dominated market.  
  2. They’re quick studies, thanks in part to technology, but they’re also uneasy buyers. Millennials have access to millions of online resources, and they may be more educated first-time home buyers than the generations who came before them. However, an abundance of resources doesn’t necessarily alleviate anxiety. Industry surveys have shown that a whopping 87% of millennial homebuyers still feel uneasy about the homebuying process. Again, homebuilders that are upfront and transparent, and can provide information and resources that will allay millennials’ nerves will come out on top.   
  3. They’re highly attuned to homebuilding trends around the world. Through the magic of the internet, millennials are in the know when it comes to the latest homebuilding trends, and will expect homebuilders to execute on their vision. Homebuilders that stay on top of industry trends and remain carefully attuned to their millennials clients’ needs will thrive.

Another important thing to keep in mind is tech-savvy millennials’ reliance on online reviews. Buyers — especially cautious, information-seekers like millennials — want to know how the homebuilders are reviewed and rated by other buyers. Honest, peer recommendations are of the utmost importance.
So, as millennials become an increasingly important part of the homebuilding industry, I encourage you to take a proactive approach to meeting their needs — needs which are different than those of the first-time homebuyers who have come before them. Your business will be better off because of it.  And as I always say, millennials won’t buy a pizza without a star rating – why would they make the most important purchase of their life – buying a home – without a star rating.