How not to let estate agents end up as a museum attraction



Millennials are a difficult crowd to please – we’re the first to admit that.  We are also a huge crowd.  There are plus minus 19 million Generation X consumers in South Africa.  Millennials however account for over 28 million of the population!  As the future decision makers we will be able to change the real estate industry as you know it and we will substantially influence the trends that we see unfolding.

Our needs and wants are as diverse as our fashion choices and lifestyles. From pants that look like deflated balloons to skinny jeans that stick to our legs like cling wrap; 1950s vintage pieces interlaced with items that look like they came from a Fifth Element film-set; some of us almost merging with our smart devices, like Cyborg’s in Star Trek, while others follow a semi-Luddite movementwherepaper notebooks replace laptop notebooks in nostalgic vogue – Millennials are categorised only by our individuality, it would seem

Our property needs prove to be as unique. Though, somewhere in the cost-efficient complexes and Mies van der Rohe-lookalikes that house the generation that refuses to be pigeonholed, there lies a few common items on the checklists we keep handy when on the search for a new abode, and most of us will agree on what estate agents have to offer us (just so you know, it has nothing to do with property-viewings or marketing tactics).

  1. Settling into It

A good place to start, I guess, is why so many of us aren’t even looking at property at all. Just look at the statistics, and you’ll see that millennials are the generation who seemed to have decided, “Hey, it’s not that bad staying with your folks until your 30.” It’s not out of laziness, or often our choice, though.

Between the declining economy, starter salaries and study loans, our financial circumstances are a lot bleaker than our parents’. Savings? What millennial has any idea what that looks like? We’ve also watched as the previous generations jumped into buying homes and starting families – we want to make the right decision the first time, the decision we won’t refer to as “the mistake” our kids should avoid. Because of this, we do our research.

  1. Information Overload

We are the generation born into the technological age. We wake up with cell phone alarms, check our Facebook updates before breakfast and post something… anything, somewhere before we get to work. The internet isn’t a convenient place where we find information or news anymore, it’s an extension of our thinking. When we do scour the web for specifics, we do it thoroughly, we read everything we can. Reading everything, though, becomes daunting. An agent’s job, as far as we are concerned, is to guide us through the heaps of information we buried ourselves under.

Estate agents know the market, the property, the neighbourhood, the law – we don’t always. When we come to you, we’ve already done our research, now we need you to work it all into a cohesive whole that is applicable to our situation. 

  • Interpret the influx of information and show us what applies to us and how we can avoid being just a statistic in another property article.
  • Share as much as you can. Go beyond just forwarding links to new properties and share articles or websites with us that could help us make a more informed decision.
  • Show us how buying a property could improve our financial status and how renting it out means you don’t have to stay put. (Here the finances come back in, though. Help us find out whether we can afford it.) If renting is our best option, help us find a home that doesn’t have to be “temporary” even if it ends being just that.
  1. Connect with Us

We are connected at all times and we expect you to be as well. Follow these 3 steps at all times – in our own marketing ploy, we’ll call them the 3 Rs:

  • Reasons – We do our research, we know the marketing secrets – we don’t want marketing, we want answers. Provide us with the reasons for things being the way they are, instead of expecting us to accept them.
  • Respond – Social Media and the internet have changed the way we see online communication. Respond as soon as possible (our ASAP, not yours), because there is almost always someone else who can help quicker than you.
  • Remind – Without Facebook reminders, we would not be able to remember our own mother’s birthdays, so please send us an SMS, or e-mail or WhatsApp to remind us of our appointments.

Now, finally, the properties we are looking for. As we’ve pointed out, our needs are diverse. The best advice we can give you is to talk to us – find out more about us and help us find the best property for our lifestyles. Three things, once again, that defines how we look at properties:

  • City Centres – Being close to our lifestyles is the crux. The days of café cultureare gone, now we want to be close to work, close to our peers, close to our lives – all at once.
  • The Outliers – There are exceptions, though. Those working from home offices or doing remote work prefer not being bothered with the bustle of the city, living in the outlying areas.
  • Staying Connected – This includes our peers, our network connections and our personal/worklife balance. If you guide us to a place that allows us to stay connected with all of these, we may even include you in a social media post.

Whether we have settled into our careers or are still job-jumping, trying to find the right fit, will also affect where we want to stay and whether we should rent or buy. Here an agent’s guidance is extremely important. Helping us understand how renting and buying will affect us later in life is important. When millennials stare atour student loan payments, that’s often the only financial future we see. Help us see further.

That’s a Wrap, Everyone

It’s clear, I think, that what millennials need most from estate agents are big, neon arrows with flashing light that point directly at our dream homes (for now), within our price range (just until we make it). Short of that, we’ll settle for advisers who help us understand the property market, our options, how our decisions will affect us and finally help us make an informed decision.

So, what are you waiting for? Go buy some light bulbs and build some signs!




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