In recent years, we’ve witnessed a new generation taking over as property seekers and investors as older investors retire. For real estate professionals, adjusting to the generational changes and new demographics is an absolute necessity. In between each generation, how they consider the market and the metrics, and what they keep an eye on, may differ significantly.
If a real estate professional wants to continue working with clients of a new generation, they need to understand how to deal with this change and what makes members of this generation tick. Below, 15 members of Forbes Real Estate Council talk about how they approach learning about generational change and demographics to remain successful over the years.
Forbes Real Estate Council members share tips on learning about change within different genrations and demographics.
1. Do Your Research
Conducting research allows you to hear directly from consumers and make sure your products/services accommodate various preferences. A study by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that younger consumers prefer digital self-service options to in-person interactions or phone calls. Lenders should embrace multiple channels and then adjust their offerings based on actual consumer behavior. – Miriam Moore, ServiceLink
2. Use Big Data And AI
We’re interested in following the data, especially if it leads to counterintuitive insights. The human brain is not designed to be able to interpret the large data sets that are relevant to demographic changes—we are limited by unconscious biases. Instead of looking for data to back up what we already know or suspect, we try to use big data and artificial intelligence to find what we wouldn’t have guessed on our own. – Paul Griffin, Griffin Living
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3. Blend Macro And Micro Reports
Quantitative, data-driven reports are readily available on topics like population movements and employment shifts by geography. On a more targeted, micro-level, we’ll also see remarkable insights into a large apartment community when reviewing the result of a “lease audit” to review the characteristics of the folks living in a particular housing community. – Spencer Hilligoss, Madison Investing
4. Get Involved In Academia
Being involved in academia as an adjunct professor at a private California university helps me foster interactions with a diverse group of real estate entrepreneurs globally. The students are from all nationalities, ages and backgrounds with a common desire to advance their real estate knowledge and add value to their communities. The interaction is gratifying. – Anne Keshen, RMT Capital Management
5. Examine Your Own Experiences
I begin by examining my own experiences as a white millennial man, and then compare those to other demographic groups through first-hand interactions. In doing so, it is very clear that my experiences are dramatically different. – Tyler Christiansen, Funnel
6. Listen To National Economists
As a real estate leader, I approach learning about generational change and demographics by listening to our state and national (NAR) economists at realtor conferences and events who frequently include these topics in their annual market reports. Another method is paying attention to local market buying trends. – Cheryl Abrams, Re/Max United Real Estate
7. Try To Have Real Conversations
Learn what the next generation is expecting by having real conversations. Industry reports can help, but actually speaking with the next generation of residents and tenants will help contextualize the “why” behind the trends. These qualitative interviews can be eye-opening, shedding light on how our industry is changing and where future changes lie. – Benjamin Pleat, Cobu
8. Track Behavioral Shifts
Consumer needs and preferences are rapidly changing. What was relevant 12 months ago likely isn’t relevant or optimal today. Leaders across sectors can keep up with generational change and demographics by tracking behavioral shifts in life, work and play to see where the puck is going, disposing of historical norms. I started my company based on this method of synthesizing and forecasting consumer evolution. – Alex Allison, D. Alexander
9. Reflect Your Resident Base When Hiring
We focus on truly reflecting our resident base when we hire employees. We don’t want to simply cater to demographics, we want our workforce to mirror the markets we work in. Our leadership team is also made up of different generations from Generation X to millennials. With that we are able to ensure diversity across age, gender and race. – M. Patrick Carroll, CARROLL
10. Embrace New Technologies And Media
Intellectual curiosity and continuous learning is incredibly important for success in real estate as well as for long-term personal development. Embrace new technologies, media, and cultural trends while actively forging personal relationships outside of your generational cohort. Having friends who are older and younger than you offers fantastic insights that will serve you well in the long run. – Megan Micco, Compass
11. Observe What People Do
Watch what people do, not what they say. If we relied on what people tell us, election turnout would be 100%, no one would speed while driving and PBS would be the most viewed channel on television. Visually check when people work, who they work with and how they interact with their colleagues. – Craig Romm, Prime Manhattan
12. Meet People Where Their Attention Is
For some generations, it’s Facebook and for others it’s TikTok. When you open your mind to learning and listening to the interests of each generation, you can begin to piece together how to approach each change as it occurs. Each demographic has its own unique generational needs and issues we tackle in each real estate cycle. – Collin McDowell, Greg Garrett Realty.com
13. Stay On Top Of What Is Trending
Staying on top of trending topics and seeking knowledge in areas of focus on an ongoing basis is vital. I seek to learn from benchmark studies and white papers published by large reputable professional organizations in the field. I also believe in active market research and not only understanding the current status but also the trend forecast for a given area’s future, as well. – Pam Scamardo, TPK Properties LLC
14. Look At The Music They Listen To
Every generation has its soundtrack, so here we have to really look at the music they are listening to. Listen to the music; it’s there you will find the answers you seek. Demographics are tricky. If you believe that the current demo will remain, then invest in that and known measurable increase. If it’s changing and the economics of the area are in flux, study the variables extensively. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
15. Listen Offline And Online
Listening both offline and online is key. Every generation has taken to some form of social media. Listening to the concerns, questions and opinions of people when they are engaged with their network is one of the greatest assets to real estate leaders. Passively listening to what people have to say when they are not forced or asked a question allows you a glimpse into how they think and why. – Michelle Risi, Royal LePage Connect Realty
Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization for senior-level executives in the real estate industry.