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Bridging the generation gap in real estate

May 2015

Bridging the generation gap in real estate

May 4, 2015

Generation gapby Branden Kameka

People of all different ages cross my path in real estate. I deal with everyone from empty nesters down to 20-something first-time buyers. Whether they are clients, customers or other REALTORS®, I feel it is important to develop strategies to work effectively with others – even if there’s a large age gap.

As a 28-year-old REALTOR®, I have a natural connection to my own generation. However, I strive to connect with people of all ages, from children to seniors. It is possible to bridge the generation gap if we make the effort to connect. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Attitudes towards technology often mark the divide between young and old. In our field, younger REALTORS® are very comfortable using technology to market properties, follow up with clients and obtain leads. We are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about new apps and programs. More seasoned REALTORS® might view this path as too easy -- a push-button approach in which personal connection is lost. They may feel that adopting and embracing new technology is too time consuming. However, I believe the demands of the marketplace will continue to make technology necessary for success in our line of work. 

Older REALTORS® can offer great insights into the “red flags” or common mistakes to avoid in transactions. We are still a service industry that requires some face-to-face contact. Experienced REALTORS® have developed a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with their younger counterparts, and I’m always grateful to learn more.  

"The amount of 'face time' a REALTOR® devotes to being present at a brokerage may vary among the generations"

The amount of “face time” a REALTOR® devotes to being present at a brokerage may vary among the generations. Older professionals may be accustomed to and comfortable with more frequent, longer visits to their brokerage whereas younger salespeople are often found in various locations on their smartphones, following up on leads and sending feedback.

I recall arriving at my brokerage one day and a colleague talked about the importance of being physically present in the office to ensure that I stayed busy. I replied that while it is valuable to spend some time at the brokerage, work can be done from many locations. While the brokerage provides interaction and training, effectiveness should not be judged on location alone. Accomplishments should be the criteria to assess performance.

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Traditional approaches such as door knocking and cold calling are still effective in many markets, but my generation pursues these strategies less often. We millennials text a great deal. We text to confirm showings between clients and other REALTORS®. Feedback after showings was often conducted in the past by phone, but it is now often done by email survey. In my world, social media has become a hub for referrals.

The average age of a REALTOR® is about 52 years of age. That means all of us need to think about the future and long-term prospects for our industry. I predict that in 10 to 15 years, we are likely to see an exodus of people from real estate as the bulk of baby boomers choose to retire. Collaboration will therefore be vital. We must all work together to deliver great service to consumers. The focus ought not to be on youth versus age, but rather on coordinating our efforts to give outstanding and professional service to the public. We should aim to bridge the generation gap rather than widen the divide. If we talk negatively about REALTORS® of other generations, we tarnish the public perception of all of us. As well, a greater emphasis on mentorship will be necessary to pass on the learning and help younger reps develop higher levels of skill and knowledge.

Branden KamekaBoth generations have something to offer. Older REALTORS® bring wisdom and experience through their years of work with buyers and sellers. Younger REALTORS® bring a fresh perspective and a natural connection with younger consumers. These different perspectives are both necessary for the future of real estate. If we focus on professionalism and on what unites us, we can all grow together and forge ahead successfully in our changing industry.

Branden Kameka is a Mississauga real estate broker and a member of the Young Professionals Network.

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Ray Ferris

I wouldn’t have become president of OREA if it wasn’t for the top-notch training developed by OREA’s Centre for Leadership Development.

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