A Real Estate Discussion Blog


Generational Differences When Going Through The Real Estate Process

I often speak on the way Gen X and Y search for real estate information and am met by looks of awe and wonderment from Agents outside of these generational categories.  Well, I put the shoe on the other foot over the holidays, and I was the one in awe. 

I recently wrote a popular post called "Top 9 Things Customers Don't Care About- From Gen Y Perspective".  When I was home with my parents over the holidays, I thought I would pose these same questions to them and see how their answers differed from mine.  For the most part we wanted the same end result and wanted to be treated fairly throughout the process, but the methodology we used to get there couldn't have been more different. 

The biggest take-away I took from the interview was that Agents need to figure out exactly who they would like their clients to be, and implement their marketing and systems appropriately.  One size does not fit all.

My parent's real estate situation:  About 2 years from retirement.  They have lived in the same home for 34  years and own it.  They live in a small, rural town in Iowa.  They aren't actively looking for a new home, but if something perfect came on the market they would consider it and have looked at a few homes in the past.  They would either like to move into a newer home in the same town or relocate to North Carolina. 

[SB] Can I interview you for my blog? - [SB Parents] You have a blog?

Let's say today you decide that you were going to move, what is the first thing that you do?  I would go drive the area.  And if you found something interesting?  I would call an Agent about that home. 

How do you pick the Agent you call?  It would be someone I know. 

What if you want to move somewhere where you couldn't drive the area or you didn't know anyone?  I would call an Agent I know locally and ask for a referral or call any friends in the area and ask them for a referral. 

What if this Agent found some other homes you may like, based on your criteria.  How would you like for them to get this information to you?  Call me.  Would you like to get an email so that you can see pictures of the home first?  No.  The Agent knows what I want and I want them to do the searching process.  If it has anything to do with the Internet, I am not going to do it. 

Let's shift to selling your house.  You have already said that you would work with someone you know.  Let's say one Agent said they could sell your house for $250K for 3% and another said $200K for 2%.  Who would you choose?  A lot depends on the numbers, but I would probably go with the $250K because I feel like the other person wants to charge less for my home to move it faster and get their commission check quicker. 

How important is the commission percentage to you?  I would pay more if I thought I was going to get better results.  It all comes down a feeling of trust.  I want to be able to fully trust the person I am hiring and I'll decide that very quickly. 

Does it matter to you if someone has one year experience or thirty years?  To some degree.  I am hiring an Agent because of their knowledge about the market and an experienced Agent is going to have this.  Although a newer Agent might be hungrier and work harder for you.

With regards to follow up, how often would you want to hear from this Agent?  Almost daily, via the phone, especially when we are just getting started and things are hot.  Would you look at any emails the Agent may send?  Maybe.  But I want a phone call.  I want to be able to hear any possible inflections in the Agent's voice to be sure I am getting the full story.

How important are Agent designations to you? What do you mean by designations? 

What about if your Agent is a Realtor vs a real estate professional?  What's the difference?

How important is a national brand behind an Agent to you?  If I have a referral, it doesn't matter.  If I don't have a referral, I am not going to just go with Joe Realtor and call up some business I have never heard of. 

Let's  talk about any media you may use. 

Newspaper- Yes, I use it.  We live in a small town, so the amount of information in the classifieds is manageable.  I don't know that I would use it as much if our real estate section looked like the Chicago Tribune's.  I like it when the paper breaks it down by price range, it is easy to read.  I HATE it when Agents don't include the price on a listing.  If there is no price, I automatically assume it is out of my price range.  They usually only leave the price off of expensive homes.  Do you ever look at the display ads in the paper?  Yes, if they have a price on them.

Billboards - Yes, I notice these.

Homes Magazines-  I like those a lot.  I can look at 200 homes right away and get an idea of price ranges for an area.  I like being able to see all the pictures of homes.  Again, there better be a price on the home for me to consider it.  If I see something interesting, I would call my Agent for more information.

Well, if you like seeing pictures of homes so much, wouldn't the Internet be something you would use?  No.  Maybe your Mother would look at it? 

Ok Mom, for the sake of both of your daughters and son-in-law working in the Internet advertising industry, let's say you were going to use the Internet, what would be your first step online?  I would use the default search engine on my computer and would type in "houses for sale in Pinehurst, NC".  Do you know what search engine that is?  Google (it's Yahoo). 

Have you ever heard of Realtor.com?  No.

Any closing thoughts?  Can I tell you what I don't like about Realtors?  (pronounced Realitors) Sure

I hate part-time Realtors, because you don't get their full-attention.  I want to go with a full-time professional that makes their living dealing in real estate.  Whenever I have dealt with someone doing it part-time, they never call me back [he gives a personal story here]. 

And after you got that type of treatment from [person mentioned above], did that affect how you perceive her whole company?  Oh yes!  Well, except for [name], because I know him. 

I also don't like that because I am in the stage of ‘just looking', I don't get the attention or follow-thru that I deserve. 

Ok, I'll let you know when our interview is live online.  Great, I'll have your Mother print it out for me to read. 

Oh boy...  Great, thanks for your time!





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Comment balloon 10 commentsSara Bonert • January 07 2008 12:25PM


Every story I hear like this just reinforces that we have to ask our clients how they want us to communicate with them.  I so prefer working with people who like email, but the reality is that some will prefer the phone.
Posted by Carolyn Gjerde-Tu-Davis, Ca Real Estate (Lyon Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Very interesting. We certainly can't treat all clients the same. I've had clients older than your parents who were avid computer/internet users, and younger clients who preferred not to use the computer. One size does not fit all ~ that much is certain. Good job!

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 12 years ago
Sara- I found this very fascinating....and so similar to what I hear from some people in my area.  Now I want to go read your other one, but I can bet I already know what it says :)
Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) over 12 years ago

Sara, this is very true.  The biggest thing I need to remember is how each client likes to communicate and which type of communication fits the situation.  Some boomers use technology, some don't.  Some think they know about technology when they don't (Google vs Yahoo).

It's sometimes hard to know which communication tool to use when.  I usually communicate via email with people, but if it is very important, some people like text messages.  It's all about customer service and giving the client what they need, when they need it. 

Posted by Carol Spengel, Wheaton IL (Prudential Rubloff ) over 12 years ago

Sara, Thanks for doing this. Because I'm in your parents' age group I already understood this but it's nice to get the confirmation.

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) over 12 years ago
Loved your interview with your parents.  They sound so intelligent and well informed.  It must be nice to have them for parents.  Love, Dad.  P.S. I did this note on the computer in less than an hour!
Posted by Jim (prefer not to use my last name) over 12 years ago
I just love your Dad's comment and the fact that he doesn't want to use his last name!  I must admit, it's not a bad idea sometimes.
Posted by Carol Spengel, Wheaton IL (Prudential Rubloff ) over 12 years ago

Sara- What a great idea to get a perspective from your parents!  I believe we need to let our clients take the lead when we first meet so we understand what they are comfortable with along with their expectations.  :-)  They sound like fabulous people...I love your dad's comment above...they do sound very "intelligent and well informed!"


Posted by Therese VanderMeer, Realtor-Greater Grand Rapids, MI area communities (Midwest Properties of MI - Grand Rapids) over 12 years ago
Pinehurst NC had snow last weekend - it's been beautiful!  Hope your mom find what she's looking for - if I can help - let me know.
Posted by Eleanor Thorne, Equity Resources 919-649-5058 (Equity Resources) over 12 years ago

Fascinating information! Reminds me of my own parents.

Posted by Elizabeth about 11 years ago