Before taking my current position, I spent my nights and weekends teaching pre-licensing class to aspiring real estate agents. It always struck me as noteworthy how many in my classes were not fresh out of high school or even college.
Most of my students were in their 30s, 40s and 50s, with real estate being a second, and sometimes third, career for these brave souls.
Many choose to get into the business because they wanted to take more control of their lives; many because they needed more flexibility combined with more income. Still others found themselves here after dramatic life changes.
Regardless of why or how, they all had one thing in common, they had to make it work.
The new career they have chosen is not an easy one, but we all know it is well-worth it. Having said that, I can’t help but think that we are not giving these new agents the entire picture. Sometimes I think our industry loses the forest for the trees.
Take the current buzzword in real estate: millennials. We are consumed by millennials, their decision making, buying habits, and most importantly, how to get their attention.
Marketing to millennials is a constant topic of conversation, and wrapped up in that is social media and technology in general. I can tell you from countless conversations with middle-aged new agents that this is a major concern.
They generally feel comfortable with Facebook; of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but by and large, the rest of the technology world is a giant mystery.
Many expressed concerns about being able to communicate and market to millennials.
Let’s think about this issue from a different angle for a moment. Assuming you are not a millennial and getting into this career for the first time, I have good news for you.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, already, the middle-aged outnumber children, but the country will reach a new milestone in 2035. That year, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that older adults will edge out children in population size: People age 65 and over are expected to number 78.0 million, while children under age 18 will number 76.4 million.
Starting in 2030, when all boomers will be older than 65, older Americans will make up 21 percent of the population, up from 15 percent today.
Mind boggling right? With all the buzz about millennials, we still have 17 years of boomer oppertunity ahead of us.
That’s not to say they will out number millennials, however, it does show that millennials aren’t everything.
Assuming that boomers are still interested in selling homes, buying homes and investing between the ages of 65 and 80, that gives some agents decades of targeting this huge group of potential clients.
So that 50-year-old agent just getting into the business can target a huge segment of the population until they are roughly 82 years old.
This, by no means, suggests that because you are an older agent you have to target older clients. It does, however, put into perspective the fact that there is a client subgroup out there for every agent.
If you are older, or if you just don’t feel like you can converse with millennials and make a real connection, then you still have options.
In fact, one could argue that our industry may have already moved past this huge group in terms of relevant perception. The National Association of Realtors however has a specialized designation just for this market segment, The Seniors Real Estate Specialist.
This may be the perfect time to target these older Americans as they downsize and move on into a new chapter of their lives.
Now more than ever, it’s critical for agents to know their market, to know the demographics, to decide where they fit and who best to market their skill set to.