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Gen Y Agents and Boomer Clients: Getting Beyond ‘You Look So Young!’

Michelle Flaherty Philbrook

By Michelle Flaherty Philbrook

A while back, I got a call on a condo listing of mine. The potential buyers were a retirement-age couple looking for a new place just large enough for their kids to stop by for a visit, but just small enough that their fledglings couldn’t fully return to the nest.

I showed the condo, and when it wasn’t a fit, I brought them on as buyer clients. After we became more comfortable with each other, this couple confided in me that they initially thought I looked “way too young to be [their] agent,” but that in the context of having met other agents both recently and over the years, they felt I was uniquely equipped help them meet their goals.  I think the reasons we were so compatible can be applied rather universally, so if you don’t mind entertaining the occasional demographic stereotype, read on for how Gen Y traits can uniquely serve some common Baby Boomer needs.

Baby Boomer with a Sense of Urgency? Meet Gen Y with Fast Texting Fingers. As a general rule, most people don’t become more patient with age — a fact of life that works in favor of agents raised in the age of text messaging and real-time e-mail. When these buyers inquired via e-mail on my condo, I called them right away. And when the property didn’t work for them, I got their search set up the same day. They told me later that none of the other brokers came close to that level of responsiveness.

Baby Boomer with Intelligent Questions Based on Experience? Meet Gen Y with Fab Research Skills. The way that I was able to quickly aggregate property information from multiple (and at times obscure) sources beyond the MLS really impressed my boomer clients. The 2010 Census confirmed that the percentage of post-secondary graduates among the U.S. population is at an all-time high, so it follows that most YPNers can likely offer extensive research skills. And in an industry like ours with ever-changing guidelines, best practices, and technology, it is more valuable to be a quick study than a deep topic expert.

Baby Boomer with Very Specific Needs? Meet Gen Y Power Networking: These clients were searching for a property with very specific attributes, in a trendy Portland, Maine neighborhood where property values have paid little mind to market forces since ’05, and instead have continued up, up, up. Options were scarce, and my buyers were on a deadline. The solution: I tapped into my network to find an unlisted option. Strong relationships with other agents and related professionals can give you an edge in these situations — and those first few Young Professional years, when evening calendars are filled with happy hours and socials, and days are spent soaking up knowledge from peers, is the prime time to nurture such ties.

My experience with these clients underscored one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a young professional:  that my value extends beyond the first-time home buyer age group with whom I naturally connect. Sure, it’s easier to build rapport with your peers.  But agents who can leverage their Gen Y skill sets for the benefit of a different age group are well-poised to build loyal fan followings of experienced consumers who will happily exchange the comfort of someone “their speed” for a broker who’s a step ahead.

Michelle Flaherty Philbrook is an associate broker with Prudential Northeast Properties, serving Greater Portland, Maine. Visit her Web site at www.michelleflaherty.com.

Comments
  1. I’m so glad that you touched on this topic. So often is age associated with experience and customer service. It’s important for everyone to know what young Realtors have to offer!

  2. I get that so often, the first thing people tend to say when they walk into my open houses, is “Oh wow, you look so young.” But it always makes me excited to prove my strengths and the benefits I am able to provide to clients. After people get beyond my age and can see the service I provide, I feel they are able to better understand why they would choose to work with me. For some reason, I still find people tend to think an agent with gray hair means they know what they are doing, even when thy actually provide little edge over competition or additional client services and skills.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. What a great inspirational article Michelle. I’ve often felt that I face the same challenges as a new Agent to the R/E Industry. You’re article was right on w/great key points and I appreciate you sharing. Best. Kate Jarvis, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Redpath & Co.

  4. I appreciate you offering tips on this subject! Adapting to situations and people of other generations is a must in our line of work! Thanks! Tamra Provines – Realtor at Smith & Co, Woodward Ok real estate

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