By Geoff Kirbyson
Brendan is a veteran home buyer at the ripe old age of 29.
The engineer-in-training at a local mechanical engineering consulting firm bought his first house five years ago but he just purchased his second along with his fiancée, Catrina, in the Bonavista neighbourhood south of Island Lakes.
After having already been through the process once, he was looking for a Realtor who could work “efficiently” and listen to his input.
“The first time around, my agent didn’t quite listen to everything I had to say,” he said.
They went to a number of open houses before making their first offer but like virtually every millennial out there, they did almost all of their research online via their laptops and phones.
They were searching for a newer house both for the look and because they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on maintenance for the first few years.
“We didn’t want to be house-poor,” he said.
The 1,450-square-foot, two-storey house that they’ve just moved into didn’t need to have the latest in-home technology because that’s the kind of thing he can do himself.
“I’ve already installed my own thermostat and I’ll do some other smart home features, too, like smart lighting,” he said.
Jennifer Berthelette, Realtor, said many millennials have higher expectations than older home buyers, thanks largely to shows on HGTV.
“It’s given them false expectations of what a perfect property is. A perfect property doesn’t have to have granite countertops. Their version of what is ready to move into is what they see on television,” she said.
Bringing those expectations back to the real world can be done through a consultation meeting.
“I take them out for coffee, find out what they’re looking for and give them a real sense of what they’ll get at their price point so they’re not overly surprised about what’s out there,” she said.
There have always been young buyers in the marketplace but this generation is much more tech-savvy than their predecessors, said Chris Dudeck, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. But even though they research everything online, they still want to bounce ideas off an industry veteran.
‘They still value the advice of professionals, whether it’s a Realtor or a mortgage professional and they take referrals from friends very seriously,” he said.
The vast majority of millennials aren’t independently wealthy so they often need to dip into the “bank of mom and dad” for their downpayment, whether that’s in the form of a loan or a gift.
With the average sales price in Winnipeg topping $300,000, it’s rare that a young would-be home buyer can come up with between $15,000 to $30,000 without some help, including using the Home Buyers’ Plan and pulling out some RRSP savings to use as a downpayment.
If Berthelette has learned anything about millennials it’s that they’re very decisive and they expect communications to move very quickly.
“They don’t waffle. They know in the first 10 minutes if it’s ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ she said.
Millennials will also “crowd source” by bringing parents and friends to see houses on their radar and asking for opinions from a wide variety of people.
If you don’t respond to a message within five or 10 minutes, there’s a good chance they’ll have moved on to the next Realtor.
“They’ve done the research. They call us to get us to show them the properties, give them some information and write offers,” she said.
“They’re on their mobile devices constantly so there’s a little bit more pressure for a Realtor to respond quickly. I try to respond as quickly as possible no matter the client demographic. On the flip-side, millennials will respond quicker to my communications, too,” he said.