As defined by Merriam-Webster, baby boomers are people:
––born in the U.S. following the end of World War II (usually considered to be in the years from 1946 to 1964)
As defined by savvy real estate agents, baby boomers are an incredibly important segment of the housing market in 2021 and beyond. If you’re looking for better ways to understand and serve this powerful cohort, we’re here with insights to inspire your efforts. Sometimes, it’s about understanding the stats. Other times, it’s about saying the right things. Let’s dive in for a closer look.
With housing stock at historic lows, it’s easy for younger generations and the media to put the blame on boomers who are staying in their homes longer than anticipated. The truth is a bit more complicated. Zoning restrictions, pandemic-related constraints, investors turning homes into rentals, and the struggle of builders to keep up with demands all factor into the lean supplies we’re seeing today.
According to recent reports, a healthy housing market has about six month’s worth of inventory. Currently, we have about two. It’s a reality we’re all stuck with, at least for now. So it’s that much more important to know what’s driving boomers to buy, sell, or stay put so we’re prepared to serve their needs as markets stabilize.
First, let’s not forget how much boomers are doing to help younger generations get a foothold in the housing market. Holding a whopping 53 percent of the country’s total wealth, boomers are well financed, yes, but also very generous. One 2018 study found that 43 percent of people under 35 received help from parents or family members when purchasing a home.
While they may not be ready to sell the homes they love (and who can blame them?), helping their adult children with down payments and closing costs demonstrates the value they place on real estate as a sound financial investment.
Once boomers are free to refocus on their own housing needs, smart agents will be ready to earn their business.
Winning boomer business
According to NAR, boomers have substantial equity in their homes and are twice as likely as millennials to purchase a $500,000 home. Even their median purchase price of $215,000 means ample opportunity to boost revenue. What’s more, baby boomer clients are generally clear about their preferences and easy to work with. By middle age, clients understand the process, have likely owned before, and know exactly what they want in their next home.
As you tailor your real estate services, it’s wise to remember that baby boomer clients:
Are comfortable with technology
A bit less likely than millennials to rely on mobile devices, boomers are technically literate with 85 percent starting their home search online. From there, their communication preferences vary. Whether by call, text, or email, it’s always a good idea to follow their lead. Boomers also tend to value in-person meetings, which offer agents the opportunity to convey the care, concern, and knowledge that can’t be captured digitally.
Like everyone else, baby boomers also consume a good deal of video content so make sure that your property walk-throughs, neighborhood tours, and personal messages are rich with information and insights.
Trust in agent expertise
Above all, boomers care about neighborhood characteristics when searching for homes. Free from school zone restrictions, they’re looking for communities rich with amenities, walkability, and recreational opportunities (not acres of grass to mow or snow to plow). Being close to family, friends, and healthcare providers also factors in.
This is where agents with deep local knowledge can really shine by offering more than cursory data points.
Boomers also remember a time when industry professionals went out of their way to provide excellent service. So they’re especially appreciative of agents who show real authenticity and go the extra mile to look out for their best interests. They also rely heavily on referrals, so boomer connections can generate business for years to come.
Have diverse housing preferences
It would be a mistake to think that every boomer is ready to downsize. While older boomers tend toward condos and townhomes, younger boomers are actually purchasing larger homes, oftentimes to accommodate adult children and aging parents. Agents can win business by showcasing key features of multi-generational properties such as office spaces, workout areas, in-law suites, and en suite bathrooms.
With plenty of life experience, this cohort is least likely to compromise on size, price, and features, making it all the more important to listen closely and take time to understand their needs.
Are enjoying life to the fullest!
Agents who assume every client over 60 wants to talk about their grandkids are making a potential faux pas. In fact, any inquiries that veer into ageist territory risk turning clients off. Instead of assuming that stairs are a top concern, let your baby boomer clients tell you what lights them up and makes life fulfilling. Then build upon every tidbit they share to find properties that make their active lifestyles easier.
Studies show that most people feel about 20 percent younger than they really are. That’s great news for humanity –– and the real estate industry! Agents who embrace this sunny outlook on life, longevity, and making the most of every minute can build lasting relationships with boomers, their millennial children, and everyone they know and love.
The housing market in 2021 has been full of twists, turns, and unimaginable opportunities. If your brokerage is poised for the next level of success, Weichert tools and systems can help you get there. Let’s talk about your plans for this year and beyond!