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How mobile millennials could revitalize the housing market

With 24 million homes expected to be bought by millennials by 2025, digital real estate companies such as Redfin and Zillow are placing a big focus on developing the kind of innovative mobile features these consumers want.

Milleninals are expected to encompass 76 percent of all household growth in the coming years, meaning that brands and companies that neglect Gen Y preferences for mobile could be left behind. Real-time capabilities are required by younger demographics and are key to the advancement of apps for putting millennial consumers in focus and in control.

?Housing industry leaders and economists are paying particular attention to millennials, who are entering their peak home-buying years, as a group that may continue to pull the housing market and economy out of the recession is the millennial generation,? said Nela Richardson, Redfin's chief economist.

?This populous group is perhaps most comfortable using technology and data to make important decisions like home-buying.?

New age strategy
Millenials have matured in an environment of Internet resources, digital technologies, instant worldwide communications, and intense multitasking brought on by real-time connectivity to social media and text messaging functions. These tech-savvy consumers are now in their household-buying years and possess a unique advantage in the marketplace as they are savvy shoppers.

Gen Y buyers are equipped with instant online market research, comparison and analysis tools stemming from the likes of online services such as Redfin or Zillow which are transforming novice buyers into seasoned veterans through the on-demand availability of detailed information on communities, neighborhoods, amenities and historical price records.

The first step to creating a successful relationship with these buyers base is to speak their language.

Redfin released its first app for Android tablets this week which answers to the increase in search conducted on these devices and the passionate desire for personalization. When users find a home they would like to see in person they may select the ?Schedule Tour? button to choose a date and time that is convenient for them to meet with an agent without needing to pick up the phone.

Moreover, the ?Ask Agent? option allows consumers who have questions about a particular home or neighborhood to submit questions and receive replies from an agent via email or phone.

The new ?Notes and Camera? capability enables users to enter private notes about homes to help them remember what they like or do not like about them. If deciding to tour a home, the app enables users to take photos from an Android tablet during the tour, and save them to the home?s details page to view later.

?The combination of new technologies like Redfin?s Mobile Tour Scheduling with the low inventory of homes for sale in today?s market means that real-time capabilities are critical for serious homebuyers,? said Bridget Frey, vice president of engineering at Redfin.

?In June, homes in major U.S. markets spent a median of 31 days on the market.?

Broadened horizons
Because millennials are swarming the market armed with information and ideas, apps and aggregated online property marketplaces are becoming places professionals must penetrate to reach these consumers.

Zillow announced early this week that it is to partner with on-demand property management software RealPage to allow brokers who market their listings on Zillow to have their properties appear on RealPage?s rental hub, MyNewPlace.

As Gen Y suffers financially from a weak job market and tuition loans, apartment and condo listings seem more realistic to market as large down payments are mostly out of the question.

The partnership also enables Zillow to offer RealPage?s real-time pricing and unit availability with the option to contact a live agent by phone or email. Zillow is confident these features will realize increased lead-to-lease conversion rates, as both offerings add a new level of value to the rentals industry and give rental shoppers a more accurate shopping experience.

Because of how many there are, millennials could reshape the housing market. Demand is high, supply is limited, and there are multiple offers on most properties which means industry players that do not offer instant connectivity as intermediaries between buyers and sellers or personalized search assistance tools will be scorned.

?To act as quickly as possible, homebuyers are searching for homes on a brokerage Web site or mobile app that pulls information about homes for sale straight from the multiple listing service, that way they can find out about homes as soon as they hit the market or have a price change,? Ms. Frey said.

?A Redfin-commissioned study found that brokerage sites show 20 percent more homes for sale, seven to nine days faster than portal Web sites that do not pull their data straight from the MLS.?

?Successful apps and sites will offer several tools and features homebuyers can use to help them act quickly for homes they are serious about,? she said.

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York