Hanging Out With Old People – The Austin Realtor Demographic

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on March 1, 2012 · 16 comments

I’ve been busy the past several weeks attending real estate education events. First was the NARPM Convention (National Association of Residential Property Managers) in Las Vegas last week. Immediately upon return, there was three days in Austin at the Texas Association of Realtors Winter Meetings at the Hyatt. Then last Monday at an all-day Realtor Technology Forum, stupidly named “xplode“. I’m all educated out. Now I need to figure out what to implement and what to ignore. The “ignore” list is huge. The “implement” list is small.

But there is one thing all these Real Estate related education conferences have in common other than real estate. They could all double as Baby Boomer Conventions. Very few young Realtors.

While in Las Vegas the first night, Sylvia and I ate in a steak restaurant in our Casino/Hotel the, Orleans. While eating, looking around at the 1960’s decor and all the old people there, I commented to Sylvia “we’re the youngest people in this place”. She responded with one of the gentle, rhetorical “wife” responses that every husband will recognize, “So, you think we look younger than everyone in here?” Translation: “Uh, we look that old too, honey”.

No way! Say it ain’t so! I’m 49 and 1/2 and these people all look so old. Like they’re at least …well, … 50. Or older.

I guess maybe my age-perception of myself and Sylvia hasn’t kept up with the actual aging we’ve experienced. We were both in our late 20’s when we started in real estate. As of Sept 2012, we’ll both be “in our 50’s”, like the average Realtor.

Question: Will us older Realtors be able to relate to and help the younger generation of buyers?

Yes, I believe so, contrary to a lot of myths fed to us Realtors at education seminars.

Myth #1: Younger buyers don’t want to talk on the phone or use email. Older Realtors need to start texting and use Skype.
Baloney. Sylvia and I have helped a lot of young buyers in their 20’s and 30’s. They all talk on the phone and use email just fine. None of them, not one, has ever asked to use “Skype”. And they don’t text at a higher rate or any differently than people in the 40+ demographic.

That’s not to say Austin Realtors should stick our heads in the sand and not pay attention to “generation gap” issues, but a lot of Realtor “Seminar” Education on this topic serves up trite and stereotyped descriptions of the “younger generation” as tech crazed, gadget dependent people who reject “old school” ways of communicating, such as phone or email. We haven’t seen that at all in our practice. You can’t do a deal properly without email or talking by phone. That’s not going to change, ever.

Myth #2 – Austin Realtors need to know and use every possible App, Gadget and Social site out there to remain relevant.
Baloney. At one of the Realtor Tech forums I attended, one of the speakers did nothing more than rattle off a list of a couple of dozen iPhone/Android “must have apps for Realtors”. What she failed to do, as pointed out by one of the attendees, was explain what specific problem each app solves. For example. Pintrest.

I know about Pintrest, and I don’t have an account or use it. According to the About page, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web“. So what? What specific problem does this tool solve for a Realtor or a real estate client? Or, how does it help prospective buyers and sellers find you? If these questions are not asked and answered about every App presented as “must have”, it’s just useless pabulum being fed to naive Realtors trying desperately to stay relevant in the tech age.

Yes, some Realtors are making very effective use of some very good tools such as Evernote and DocuSign. One presenter also shared a list of web and device apps, but in her presentation she followed a pattern of explaining what it is, followed by, what problem it solves or what function and benefit it provides.

For example, Evernote. I picked up that tip and am just now becoming acquainted with Evernote as a productivity tool. I don’t know if I’ll adopt it, but it’s certainly worth a scheduled block of time to learn more and see if it can help me in my business.

I could rattle off some more myths, but let’s stop at those 2, which are the most egregious.

If you’re a Realtor in Austin, or anywhere, you’ve heard all these “must have” things. Be careful. Don’t think you have to adopt 100 new ideas or technologies to stay effective and “up to speed” as a real estate professional. Informed, yes. Aware, yes. Early adopter of every gadget, app and idea fed to you at a seminar? No.

Yes, we’re getting older and our clients are getting younger. But they still want good advice and someone they can trust to help navigate the transaction. Age may even be an advantage if the younger crowd recognizes the value of wisdom and experience. We should keep up with technology, but not stress out over trying to implement every new thing technology has to offer.

On March 9th I’ll start 5 days of “education” at SXSW Interactive. I last attended SXSW Interactive two years ago. This is very tech heavy education, but NOT real estate related, which is a good thing. A real good thing. There won’t be any old lady Realtors telling me I need to download and use Pintrest in my real estate business. And I’ll get to rub elbows with people who look as young as I feel.

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