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How ethics, sustainability drive Gen Y home buyers

By Malavika Santhebennur
01 September 2022 | 11 minute read
Bernard Salt reb

With Millennials driven by ethical considerations in the workplace, it is only natural that this mindset would extend into home-buying decisions, according to Bernard Salt.

The demographer, commentator and author drew a parallel between work ethics and home-buying preferences among Millennials. He noted that this cohort is a unique consumer market as their work ethics differ significantly from Baby Boomers and, to an extent, Gen X.

While the older generations focused on their salary packages and generating an income, Millennials view this only as a starting point, or “business as usual”, he opined.

“The thing that I think drives Millennial behaviour is more ethical considerations,” Mr Salt told REB.

“They want to know if the business they are working for is ethical, or if it offers a product or service that is sustainable. They want to know if it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Mr Salt surmised that if these factors drive Millennials in the workforce, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that they would also drive home-buying decisions.

Not only will they prefer homes that are sustainable, they will also question if their dealings with the real estate agent were ethical, transparent, and fair, he argued.

“I think that the Millennial generation is very much driven by matters of ethics and behaviour. They not only want jobs with meaning that make a contribution, they also want real estate that serves its purpose while being sustainable and connected to the local community,” he said.

Mr Salt’s comments have preceded the REB REInnovate conference in Melbourne in October this year, where he will unpack the home-buying preferences of Millennials, how technology and changed consumer behaviour have lowered barriers for buyers, and how the values of the post-COVID customer have changed and what they expect from agents.

Tailoring your services to the younger cohort

It is critical for real estate agents to tailor their services to the Millennial demographic to capitalise on this opportunity, particularly in light of the 2021 census revealing that Millennials (25-39 years old) have levelled with Baby Boomers (55-74 years old) as the largest generational group in Australia.

Indeed, both generations have over 5.4 million people each in the country, with Baby Boomers exceeding Millennials by only 5,662 people as of 10 August 2021.

Mr Salt said he is confident that real estate agents are primed to adapt to the changing demographic and requirements of their clients, adding that “it’s a matter of survival”.

“If ever there was a life form on the planet that would adapt to a changing client market, I think it’s real estate agents because it’s life or death for them,” he said.

“The reason is, if they don’t adapt to meet the needs of their client base, they simply won’t win work, and they will disappear. So, they have developed very good skills to read the market.

“Moreover, they’re dealing with people every day and are very sociable people. Real estate agents need to be able to be comfortable with people and build confidence with clients to succeed.

“You need to be quite intuitive to be an agent.”

Ongoing tech updates a must

The key to connecting with the Millennial client base, Mr Salt advised, is ensuring that the agency’s overarching principles, policies, procedures, and staff values align with each other and with community expectations around inclusiveness, diversity, fairness, and transparency.

“As a client, you would expect to be dealing with a professional organisation that is in touch with the community and its values, and aligns with your values. That’s the type of agency Millennials (or anyone else for that matter) would want to do business with,” Mr Salt said.

In unison with this, Mr Salt concluded by asserting that being technologically proficient and willing to continually invest in and upgrade systems and processes are critical to attract Millennial home buyers.

Likening it to organisations allotting a research and development budget, Mr Salt urged agencies to allocate resources to upgrade their technology interface regularly.

“I think you need to revisit your technology and how you’re interacting with your clients and the market every year,” he recommended.

“Never rest on your laurels in terms of your visuals or how well you’ve packaged your offerings. Never think you’ll never have to revisit it. The reality is the online world is changing all the time so you need to keep changing with it.”

Bernard Salt will present a session at REB REInnovate in Melbourne on Tuesday, 25 October 2022, on how agents can understand the customer of the future and how COVID-19 has reshaped the way Australians buy real estate and what they expect from agents.

Click here to buy your tickets and make sure you don’t miss out!

For more information about the event, including agenda and speakers, click here.

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