It’s kind of fun when a Portland commercial developer opens our eyes to insights into the new home market. Portland’s Vanessa Sturgeon, President of TMC Development, shared some of her thoughts in today’s Portland Business Journal.
It’s particularly fun for me, as I have been spreading this message for the last ten years… at least.
The core message is “pay attention to the Millennial Generation – Gen Y – these are going to be your primary buyers for many, many years to come.”
Vanessa Sturgeon points out that many Gen Y’s are renting now… not because they are “slackers” but because they are planners and getting ready for a home purchase in the future. Many are not buying now because the home building industry is giving them “their parents’ homes” from which to choose. Many Gen Y’s are active in the new home market now. They are in their 30s, planning families and hitting their threshold career paths.
My personal observation is that many more Gen Y’s would be in the new home market right now if builders and developers paid as much attention to them as they do to their more familiar Gen X parents and Boomer grandparents.
Folks, this is one whopping large market we aren’t paying a lick of attention to. Gen Y’s outnumber the Boomers, and they are just at the up-curve of their peak earning and baby making years. Let’s show these GenY’s some LOVE!
Here are three simple steps builders and their marketers can do:
1) Work with your lenders and agents to identify a pool of Gen Y buyers of your homes and your competitors’ homes, this will set up the next two steps.
2) Spend some time getting to know this market personally. Yeh, I know, it’s a lot more fun to tweak floor plans alone in a room, but this will pay off. Personally interview GenY shoppers and buyers. By the way, when you talk to the buyers, leave your agents at the office. This exercise is not about sales. This is about listening, and your agents have a habit of “smoothing” things over for their builders— which often means telling you what you want to hear. Be brave! (Once this is done, by all means talk to your agents. They, too, can tell you why they are NOT making sales and help you improve your game.)
3) Hold some informal focus groups on your plans and features. Some of the folks who are designing your production homes these days are old enough to be the Gen Y buyer’s grandparents. Let’s open up a little. You can do this in-house. Just invite some Gen Y prospects to a comfortable place for some brews and burgers. Show them your plans, and then shut up and listen. I predict you will quickly become fans.
You might be surprised how much the generations have in common, as Vanessa points out: “Those at the older end of the millennial spectrum had wartime sacrifices of their own in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Millennials were also hit with the economic ravages of the Great Recession at a time when many of them were trying to enter the workforce for the first time.”
You can also start off with some in-depth information from the Urban Land Institute. Just follow this link.
So let’s build them some cool homes!