Better to talk more and text less when buying a home

May 7, 2013

Millennials are the most connected generation in history. In fact, The Pew Research Center calls them "history's 'always connected' generation, treating their handheld devices 'almost like a body part.'"

So when it comes to buying a home, Millennials (those born after 1982) are more likely to do most of their research online as well as communicate electronically. This extends to communicating with real estate agents. But real estate appraiser Richard Hagar says if you're buying a home, "talking" through texting  is useful only up to a certain point.

"Once a potential buyer has established initial contact, then an agent can start to help that person. But you need more than communication through thumbs and fingers."

Also known as "Generation Y," this generation represents a quarter of the U.S. population. And with the oldest of this group moving into their 30s, many of them are ready to buy a home. Hagar says that means agents need to learn about how Millennials operate, but agents also need to do some client coaching. Part of that is convincing the client that having a nuanced conversation about what type of place they're looking for will narrow down their search.

"To really do home buying correctly, no matter what your age, buyers need to sit down with a really good agent and explain their needs. And if it's a couple, for example, the agent wants to hear both sides," says Hagar. 

Bottom line: Multiple texts and emails won't cut it. When it comes to big investments like buying a home, it ultimately has to move offline. If it doesn't, Hagar warns, the agent may not be legit.

The State of Washington's Department of Licensing—Real Estate Commission—has guidelines for internet advertising and social media, as well as guidance for realtors about electronic communication (read email and texting).  The National Association of Realtors also includes information on this in its code of ethics.