Have you ever been ghosted by a millennial buyer? That is, you met a prospective buyer at an open house who seemed excited and serious about the property. You set a followup meeting over coffee to discuss next steps, and then suddenly they disappear. They ignore your emails, texts, calls, or don’t show up to the meeting. You just got ghosted!
This behavior has become prevalent among millennials in their dating lives, social lives, and even their careers. But why do millennials do this? More importantly, how can we as realtors spend less of our precious time chasing down these ghost leads?
As a millennial agent in San Francisco, I understand the roots of why millennials behave this way. In short, it’s all about technology. Technology is both the reason for, and the solution to, being ghosted by millennial buyers. In this article I’ll explain the reasons why millennials ghost, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
Fear of confrontation
Millennials grew up with the internet and texting. The ability to communicate with our peers digitally, and on-demand, has resulted in a generation with a deep social anxiety around in-person, face-to-face meetings. After all, it’s easier to escape an awkward text chat than a tedious meeting at a coffee shop. All you have to do is stop responding! However, dealing with a realtor in-person when you’re getting cold feet is a deeply uncomfortable experience.
Moreover, for in-person meetings, the stakes feel higher. Millennials are the busiest and most distracted generation in history, due to our smartphones making us available to everyone, on-demand. As such, at any given moment, our coworkers, friends, or family might ping us and let us know that we’re needed right away. In these situations, our network of close and intimate relationships will always take priority over a realtor meeting.
Unfortunately, you’ll never really know what specific reason a millennial had for ghosting on your meeting, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever get the facts. However, if they go totally silent on you, they’re probably trying to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted about backing out on you.
They’re worried that you’ll waste their time
There exists a fundamental difference in how the millennial generation gathers information. Millennials grew up with Google and smartphones, and are thus accustomed to being able to quickly research any and all topics, on-demand. As such, millennials often feel that they can find information about a property and a market on their own. Whether or not this is true, it leads to millennials asking themselves, “why should I take an hour out of my day to meet realtors in person when they’re just going to tell me info I can find online?”
Thus, millennials are unconvinced that a followup meeting is worth their time. They’re expecting to hear information that they think they already know. They’re also expecting you to pressure them with a hard sale, which raises red flags for their anxiety around confrontation. Since they barely know you, they’ll often assume the worst, and thus get cold feet at the last minute. This all ends with you being ghosted, sitting alone in a Starbucks, wondering if they’ll even show up at all.
You haven’t gained their trust
Another reason why millennials are ghosting on you is because you haven’t built rapport with them in the way that they want to be engaged. This leads to a tricky catch-22, because you set up followup meetings with them to build rapport, yet you need rapport to get them to show up to the meetings. This begs the question: why did this millennial buyer not trust me enough to show up?
There are two main reasons for this. First, if a millennial is serious about working with you, it’s very likely that he or she has researched you on Google, social media, and Youtube. If you don’t have a presence across these platforms, you’ve unintentionally blacklisted yourself to millennials.
Tech savvy millennials live their lives digitally
This generation is tech savvy and their lives are deeply linked to their online identities. Thus, at best, you’ll be seen as unsophisticated and behind the times. At worst, you’ll be seen as untrustworthy. After all, to millennials, a person who can’t set up a YouTube channel is laughably incompetent, and a person without a social media presence is a stranger.
Instagram is the new coffee meeting
Ultimately, the way to build trust with millennials is to leverage technology to scale your rapport building. Start by producing interesting and frequent property-related updates on YouTube and Instagram. It’s particularly important to inject your unique personality into the content, so that your millennial audience will get a feel for your authentic voice. You should have a healthy mix of high end glamour shots of properties and silly and endearing moments from your personal life. If you’re willing to be vulnerable and show your human self to your audience, they will grow to trust you, engage with you, and can even become emotionally invested in your success.
To get an idea of the type of content that feels authentic to millennial audiences, check out this Instagram video from San Francisco based real estate team Kinoko:
Tim McMullen showing an unpolished, raw perspective on a property.
Don’t just share your victories. Share the tough moments and the difficult work that goes into the job you do. Let them know what happens behind the scenes. Explain why you’re passionate about the work you do and why you’re motivated to put people into their dream homes. Millennials are highly value-driven and will feel compelled to work with you if you can show them that you believe what they believe. Be human, be imperfect, and be relatable.
If you do this, you’ll eventually gain an audience of millennials who passively consume your videos and, ideally, also actively engage with you. Once they are ready to purchase, you’ll have already done all the legwork of building rapport. Since these social video platforms enable you to share your experiences and perspectives, your millennial followers will already feel like they know you personally, before you even meet! If you’ve been engaging with them and responding to their comments, they’ll feel like you’re a trusted friend.
In the end, trusted friends never ghost on trusted friends.
If you’d like to learn more about how to position yourself as an authority with millennial buyers in your market, feel free to reach out to me at my website, Condo Weekly.
Tim McMullen is a luxury real estate agent, founder of Condo Weekly, and a former sales executive for the Four Seasons Private Residences, San Francisco.