THE BLOG
01/31/2017 08:09 am ET Updated Jan 27, 2018

What Real Estate Companies Need to Know About Millennials

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By Hillary Hobson

Love them or hate them, millennials are a huge and growing demographic, and they have some distinct preferences concerning their lifestyle and how they spend their money. Known for their desire for instant gratification, they value services with high speed, low cost, and some room for choice - and with so much information at their fingertips, they will rarely settle for less.

The housing market hasn't traditionally conformed to these criteria, but seeing the market's failure to adapt to this changing paradigm is what inspired me, a 29-year-old, to start a real estate business with three other millennials -- and a growing portion of our sales is to millennial buyers.

If you're in the real estate industry, it's important to stay informed about the transformation that millennials are bringing to this industry. Here are four key trends I've pegged that you should consider, and what they mean for your business:

1. Listings Are Now Highly Accessible and Easy to Navigate

The advent of the internet has democratized real estate listings. FSBO (for sale by owner) sites and investment websites are quickly becoming a common way to sell a property. While sellers now have the freedom to manage and modify their own listings, they also have the ability to negotiate their sale prices.

Many real estate investment companies are finding out-of-the-box ways to purchase homes in a desired market, so make sure you keep yours up to date. Providing sellers with the option of submitting their home information to receive a direct offer is one of them. This solves many pain points surrounding the sale of a home and is a model that is growing exponentially. Thousands of sites are popping up in major markets across the U.S. that are built on this model. Why? It fits the mold of quick, simple and hassle-free, and it cuts out the middleman, increasing the profit margin.

2. Contracts Have Gone Digital

A majority of the legal legwork that accompanies the sale of a house can be done online, drastically reducing the time between when you make an offer and when you officially become a homeowner. Offers can be submitted, signed and returned in as little as a few minutes. You can also hire a real estate lawyer for a fraction of what you would pay in real estate commission fees to verify the legitimacy of the process. We use Docusign daily to make offers on real estate, which saves us time and ensures someone else won't come in and steal the deal. If we had to conduct business the old way, it would be impossible to hit the same sales numbers we do now.

3. Neighborhood Data Is Available Online

Two important duties of realtors are neighborhood due diligence and home value analysis. Recently sold comparables are now easily accessible through many sites like Zillow and Trulia, which offer data on recent sales. For more detailed CMA reports, findcompsnow.com provides data to show recent homes purchased with cash, private funding and conventional funding.

Statistics like demographics, crime rates, school achievement rankings and median income figures are important factors to consider when house hunting, and you can easily find any of this information with a simple Google search. Sites like NeighborhoodScout also offer reputable, in-depth, and consolidated data for a small price. You can even corroborate this data through online forums that will connect you with people living in the area if you prefer a more personal take on the subject. We find all of these tools helpful for scoping out properties we wish to purchase and re-sell, as they give us a good idea of how stable the market in the area is, and the types of investment returns we can expect.

4. Same-Day Sales Are Now Possible

Investment companies are going direct, making a complete departure from the traditional market model. Instead of listing your home and maintaining and promoting it while waiting for it to sell, you can enjoy a near-instant sale at an agreed-upon price with these companies. This might require you to accept slightly less than the market rate, but since it allows the sale to be made so quickly and easily, it is well worth the concession for some sellers. We purchase a significant number of our properties this way.

The housing market is a vibrant, fast-paced area of commerce that has undergone immense changes over the past decade and is still in the process of evolving. I can confidently say that those who stay "in the know" will find there is a lot of money to be made in tailoring their services to this emerging trend.

Hillary Hobson is CMO and co-founder at highestcashoffer.com. She is responsible for marketing, national brand development, and market research.