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'Lazy' Millennials Do More Work When Buying, Selling Homes

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An overhyped stereotype about millennials is that they're entitled narcissists who can't be bothered to do homework, legwork or even stash a few dollars in the bank (see avocado toast). That caricature can be taken apart in many ways – including by research from the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report that shows millennial home buyers and sellers are extremely motivated: They go on more tours, give more open houses, do more research on real estate professionals, and fix up their homes at higher rates than older generations.

Tours, tours, tours!

When buying a home, millennials go on more tours than their older counterparts. The average millennial goes on 4.4 tours — slightly more than Gen X and baby boomers — and outdoes the average of 2.7 for the silent generation. [1] They also attend more open houses: 42.7 percent of millennials go to at least two – a higher share of buyers than Gen X (30.4 percent), boomers (24.9 percent), and the silent generation (16.3 percent).

When millennials use an agent, they still do more themselves. Among millennials that use an agent, 20.2 percent go on tours themselves, higher than the 12.2 percent of Gen X, 10.4 percent of boomers, and 3 percent of the silent generation who do the same. Millennials selling their homes also give more tours on their own before getting their agents involved: 30.3 percent of them give tours to potential buyers before engaging an agent, compared to 18.1 percent of Gen X, 8.5 percent of boomers and 10.1 percent of the silent generation.

Millennials do their homework

Millennial buyers also do more research throughout the process. Among those who enlist the help of an agent at some point in their search, 37 percent of them preview or screen homes themselves, compared to 28.3 percent of Gen X, 29.6 percent of boomers and 14.5 percent of silent generation buyers. More millennial buyers also identify the homes they consider: 42.6 percent, compared to 32.7 percent of Gen X, 29.5 percent of boomers, and 10.3 percent of the silent generation.

When hiring the many professionals that play a part in the buying and selling processes, millennials are more likely to research and evaluate agents, contractors, inspectors, and other professionals. When looking for an agent, the average Millennial seller contacts 2.5 agents before settling on one – more than the 1.7 agents that Gen X and baby boomer sellers contact and more than the 1.4 that silent generation sellers reach out to.

When searching for an agent to help them buy a home, 81.2 percent of Millennials do at least one of the following to evaluate them:

  • Read online reviews
  • Visit their brokerage website
  • Look up their past sales history
  • Ask a friend or family member about their experience with the agent or broker
  • Figure out their market knowledge / how well they know the area
  • Interview agent(s) or broker(s)

Older generations also research their agents, but at lower rates than millennials: 75.9 percent of Gen X buyers do at least one of the above, as do 68.7 percent of Boomers and 71.1 percent of the Silent Generation.

Among buyers who use an agent, millennials are more likely to find their own inspector than older generations: 22.5 percent of millennials find their own, compared to 17.2 percent of Gen X, 11.7 percent of Boomers and 11.6 percent of the Silent Generation.

The average millennial buyer also outdoes other generations when it comes to contacting lenders: Millennials contact an average of 2.8 lenders before choosing one, more than the 1.7 lenders contacted by Gen X, 1.8 by Boomers and 1.3 by the Silent Generation.

Younger sellers are more likely to fix up before selling

Millennials are more likely than all older generations to fix up their homes for sale. They outdo baby boomers and the silent generation when it comes to painting, redecorating, landscaping, replacing or buying new furniture, and kitchen and bathroom improvements. Ninety percent of millennials do some sort of improvement, compared to 84.6 percent of Gen X, 69.1 percent of boomers and 58.8 percent of the silent generation.

You might think millennials are doing more work because of the kinds of houses they own: If the houses are older, for example, they might need more repairs. But the data show that millennials sold homes that are on average about eight years newer than homes sold by older generations.

The DIY Generation flexes tech skills

Millennial sellers that use an agent are also more likely than older generations to do a lot of the work that agents often handle. For example, millennials are more likely to have photographs taken of their home: 31.7 percent do, compared to 18 percent of Gen X sellers, 11.4 percent of boomer sellers and 4.3 percent of silent generation sellers. In addition to photos, millennials also make print ads and have video or other media taken of their homes at higher rates. Given how tech savvy they are, it's no surprise that they're big on promoting their homes on real estate sites (22.7 percent) at nearly triple the rate of older generations (8.5 percent) and on social media (38.0 percent compared to 15.5 percent for older sellers).

Younger sellers learn as they go

Seventy-eight percent of millennial sellers are doing so for the first time; this is their first rodeo. The fact that they're overwhelmingly learning the ropes for the first time may partially explain why they are doing more work: 58.1 percent of them have at least one offer fall through, compared to 37.9 percent of Gen X sellers, 30 percent of boomer sellers and 22 percent of silent generation sellers. Because a large proportion are first timers, they also are less likely to have an established network of professionals to rely on, which means they have to do more research to find a team.

Even so, they are more eager than older generations to do work themselves. When asked whether they prefer to take the lead themselves or rely on guidance from professionals, 57.5 percent of millennial sellers say they are more inclined to take the lead themselves – a higher percentage than older generations. Among Gen X sellers, 40 percent report taking the lead, compared to 29.5 percent for boomers and 24 for the silent generation. This preference may explain why millennials often outdo older generations when it comes to the homework, fixing up and other jobs associated with the home selling process.

[1] Millennials refers to people between the ages of 24 and 38. Gen X is 39 to 53. Baby boomers are 54-73. Silent generation refers to people age 74 and up.

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