When it comes to interacting with businesses, millennials are all about the online experience—except, a new survey shows, when in need of real estate services.
Seventy-five percent of millennials recently surveyed by CentSai, a financial wellness website, would prefer to enlist the help of a local real estate agent than an online agent. Seventy-one percent, in addition, would prefer to work with a local mortgage lender.
Why favor face-to-face collaboration? "Amount of hassle," handholding," "local knowledge," "longstanding relationships" and "personal touch" were all given as reasons behind the desire to hire local.
"We were surprised to learn that online providers are not yet as big a disruptor in this sector as we first thought, despite purported cost savings," says Doria Lavagnino, co-founder and president of CentSai. "We found that millennials place a high value on the personal touch and knowledge of a local agent. Buying a home for the first time is daunting, and working with a local agent—particularly an agent referred by a parent or friend—could provide peace of mind."
The findings of the survey correspond with the results of a recent Ellie Mae survey that revealed mortgage borrowers—millennial and others—would benefit from a combination of in-person and online communication with a lender, and more seek out referrals for lenders, rather than find one online.
The internet is still an important part of the home-buying process for millennials, however, according to the CentSai survey. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed would look for prospective homes and neighborhoods online, either through an app or a site—in line with National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research that shows 95 percent of homebuyers rely on the internet.
For real estate professionals, the survey's findings emphasize the value of referral-based business in gaining millennial clients, as well a balanced, tech-and-touch approach to customer service. Fifty-six percent of the millennials surveyed, decidedly, plan to buy a home in the next two years.
By Suzanne De Vita