Millennials are the largest generation in America. Approximately 86M people were born between 1980 and 2000, meaning they outnumber the Baby Boomers. As the largest segment of homebuyers for three years running, Millennials are already a homebuying force to be reckoned with —
This new segment of homebuyers represents a substantial opportunity for mortgage lenders. But it can’t be the same old way anymore. Lenders will need to throw traditional processes out the door and get ready to adapt to the unique generational personality. Here are a few tips from the Millennial team at Maxwell:
- Technology is great service. Does your website look like it’s from the 1990s? Does your mortgage process require endless forms with repetitive information? Do you require faxes or scans? Do you need wet signatures? Do you shun cloud storage, communication by text and elegant design? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not ready to deliver top service to a Millennial.
- Phone calls are a nuisance. Uncle George may appreciate getting updates by phone, but for most Millennials having to interact over the phone is actually a bother. Voicemails? Don’t even waste your time. When I can track my Uber car location through an app, my mortgage should be no different. Get used to this hierarchy of communication with Millennials:
- Text: Use sparingly. Action required reminders and quick response. Request for phone call (e.g. “Can you talk at 2PM?”). Big milestone updates. Expect 1-3 hour response time.
- Email: Long-form requests and education. Expect 3-5 day response time.
- Website or smartphone app: Self-service status updates, document exchange, task and document lists, main workflow tools. Expect 3-8 hour response time.
- Phone or Voicemail: Use for initial meet and greet and for pre-arranged conversations. Don’t expect a response to voicemails.
- Answer the “why.” Most Millennials are first time homebuyers. Spend time up front explaining the mortgage process, rate structures and the documentation requirements. Simple definitions to commonly used terms will be helpful (e.g. What does it mean to buy a point? Why do I need title insurance?) Be prepared to answer questions patiently — Millennials will certainly have done online research before speaking with you and may have mis-set expectations. And finally, have technology tools they can use themselves to get to an answer.
- Build an online presence. Unlike their parents, Millennials don’t trust referrals, they need additional peer validation of your expertise. This does not mean building a 5-star review profile online, it means opening yourself up to reviews by every customer, even the unhappy ones. A 4.5-star average with 75 reviews is more meaningful than a 5-star review with 25 reviews. If you’ve been in business for more than 5 years, you should have over 50 substantive reviews. If you came from an agent referral, expect that they’ll do their research before speaking to you
- Be consistent, ethical and honest. Know what you stand for, be humble and open to learn. Millennials are looking for someone to trust and guide them through the most expensive purchase of their life — that means having good answers to common questions, taking time to explain something new, and also telling them your own story.
Millennials are changing the way businesses operate, but at the end of the day they want the same thing: great service, honest advice, and to make a home for themselves and their family. If you take the time to understand what makes them tick, you are already leaps ahead of the competition in winning them over.