Times Union: Millennials Changing the Real Estate Profession
Younger agents enter the field with ready-made social media and technological savvy
by Diego Mendoza-Moyers | updated 6:01 pm EST, Friday, March 1, 2019 | view original source
Millennials are making their mark on the real estate business, and they’re changing the profession.
The median age for real estate agents is 54, but millennial agents — roughly those aged 22 to 39 — make up 18 percent of all agents, up from 11 percent in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 member profile.
Growing up in the digital age has allowed younger real estate agents to enter the profession with a ready-made social media and technological savvy that can help them connect with customers or better make use of technology, according to several Capital Region realty pros.
“I think one of the biggest advantages of being a millennial is growing up in the social media age, so one of the things that I’m pretty adept at would be social media marketing,” said Adam Popham, a real estate salesperson for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
According to NAR data, 91 percent of realtors use social media to some extent; 71 percent of realtors said they are on Facebook and 59 percent on LinkedIn.
“That’s how you’re getting your business,” Popham said. “You have to market yourself.”
For Anthony Redway, 25, a real estate salesperson with Berkshire Hathaway in Clifton Park, mobile phone applications like Facebook allow him to give a live tour of a home online. Others, like Homesnap, allow him to access real estate databases and virtually walk a property’s lines from his phone.
“I use technology as much as I can … I also try to build up my Zillow profile, so I have an online presence,” Redway said, referring to the online real estate database company. “Technology is definitely going to play a forefront role in real estate because everything is a little more efficient.”
He said a paper contract can typically take from 15 to 20 minutes to get done, whereas an electronic contract is done in five minutes and can be edited and reshared if changes are needed.
“When I got into the field, I was introduced to writing a contract and I was also taught the electronic way to do a contract,” Redway said. “I have never written paper contract. I do everything electronically.”
And while the millennial generation encompasses a vast range of widely different careers and interests, one factor is commonly shared among the age group: heavy student debt.
“We all kind of grew up in and around the economic crisis of 2008,” Popham said. “We all have student loan debt, so to be able to understand where (millennial clients) are and where they’re trying to get to and coming up with creative ways to get them into their first house — going through that myself is a huge advantage.”
Neil Corkery, 38, is in his second year working at Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs. Unlike many of his peers, he doesn’t use social media accounts for personal or for marketing purposes. While he does promote listings through his firm’s social media, he said nothing is better than personal interactions.
“You get to know your buyers, help them find the right place for them. The more you interact, the more in line you can get with what their needs are,” Corkery said.
Sites like Zillow are helpful, but have been criticized for misrepresenting home values.
“In some ways (Zillow) is great. It gets more eyes on your property, it’s a tool we use. But then at times, it’s basing all of its information on formulas,” Corkery said. “Things may not be correct, accurate. That can be a problem.”
Technology has also made access easier. In the past, realtors would drive to their office, retrieve a house key, map their way to the home for sale, let their clients in and then return the key to the office — a much lengthier process than today, said Samantha Parker, a 39-year-old real estate agent with Keller Williams.
The increase in technology within many professions has some concerned about their jobs being replaced by automation. Parker says technology augments a real estate agent’s ability to find a buyer the right home but agrees with Corkery that it can’t replace face-to-face interaction.
“Real estate is purchased and sold and marketed online, so us as agents don’t necessarily need to go view a house upfront to find the perfect buyer,” she said. “Am I going to put my trust in someone I can’t see or access like I can today with the in-person process? I don’t think (technology) will ever phase us out, it’ll just enhance our efficiency.”