Tips for Working with Millennial Homebuyers and Their Parents
What Realtors Need to Know.
Dana Bull, of Sotheby’s International Realty in the Boston area, came to real estate after she and her husband bought their first house. As a Millennial herself, she decided to build her niche in working with first-time buyers and younger buyers. “I’ve noticed with this age group that frequently the parents are involved in the decision making, even if they’re not offering to help with a downpayment,” she says. “Buying a home is a major investment, and many Millennials don’t want to make a misstep. So, they solicit advice from parents, but that can cause chaos for the buyer’s agent,” she says.
Here are her tips for working with Millennials, and their parents:
- Find out who’s making the decision. Bull finds that sometimes the parents reach out to her on behalf of the buyers, and sometimes the actual buyers reach out. Either way, it’s vital to find out who’s making the final decision. “In the initial meeting with the buyer, I always ask, ‘Who is involved in the decision?’ I want to make sure I direct all of my attention on the person making that final decision,” she says. “I also talk to my client to find out how involved they want their parents to be.”
- Empower the Millennials. “My role as an agent is similar to being the parent—to provide a framework so they can make a decision,” she says. So, even if dad has a lender he wants to work with, Bull will also suggest some lenders that she’s worked with. “It’s not about making the parents out to be the enemy. Instead, it’s about offering alternatives in case the Millennial buyer can find a better deal somewhere else,” she says.
- Know your default. “When things get tough I default to whomever I have the verbal contract with,” she says. “It becomes muddy when parents are helping to finance the deal. It can be more straightforward when parents are gifting the money, but a co-investing situation can be tough. But, it’s all about setting boundaries.
- Establish your expertise. “I put a lot of emphasis on building the real estate team—lender, closing attorney, financial planner, etc. Then, I make sure both the parents and the Millennials are educated about the process and expectation.”
Sure, it can get tough when parents insert themselves into their adult children’s decisions. Learning to handle these situations with professionalism can make for a smoother transaction.