Bridging the Gap — Working Across Generations

Millennials. Gen X’ers. Baby Boomers. You might not realize it, but there’s a good chance you will have clients from every one of these generations at at some point in your career (if you haven’t already). Today’s home buyers and sellers have never been more generationally diverse. But with that generational diversity, comes the need to understand and adapt your working style and practices to best meet theAttractive Baby Boomer couple reviewing paperwork with male realtor needs of these clients. Check out the background of each of these generations, learn what they value the most, and get tips on how to best work with members of each generation.

Baby Boomers

Who they are: The post-World War II generation born from 1946-1964, were the largest generation for decades, until they were surpassed by Millennials.

What they value: This generation saw some of the most radical political and social change in history. They tend to be adaptive, goal-oriented and conflict-averse.

Baby Boomers as clients: Perhaps more than any other generation, Baby Boomers were brought up with the notion of the American Dream of home ownership. Though most are now empty nesters, they still want to own homes; but ones that will put fewer demands on their time and resources. They love walkable neighborhoods that are close to their family and friends, and look for homes that will be adaptable to their changing needs as they age.

Tips for working with Baby Boomers

  • Communicate their way – While many Boomers are perfectly comfortable with all aspects of current technology, not all have embraced it. Find out how your clients would prefer to communicate before firing off endless rounds of texts.
  • Respect their time – Though they may be retired, it doesn’t mean their schedules are wide open. Many in this generation are involved in a lot of activities in addition to caring for elderly parents. And of course, some are still working.
  • Don’t stress them out – Many in this generation prefer to avoid conflict. Present the facts, but try to soften the blow when the news isn’t good.

Generation X

Who they are:  Born from 1964-1980, Gen X’ers are sandwiched in between two, much larger generations.

What they value: Growing up as the first generation of “latch-key kids” led Gen X’ers to a fierce independence that continued into adulthood. They value contribution, feedback and, no surprise, autonomy.

Gen X’ers as clients: Given their independent nature, there’s a good chance your Gen X clients will come to you armed with research they’ve done themselves. They’ll have a strong idea about what they want, but are open to making home buying or selling a collaborative process. Keep in mind that this generation was the hardest hit by the 2008 housing crisis, and may be especially wary when it comes to making decisions.

Tips for working with Gen X’ers

  • Present pros and cons – This generation possesses a natural skepticism and grew up questioning just about everything. Be prepared to share both the good and the bad news with them; don’t sugarcoat.
  • Have a plan – Gen X’ers are results-oriented, and like seeing a road map for how they’re going to reach the goal.
  • Don’t take it personally – Gen X’ers didn’t receive a lot of praise growing up, and may be reluctant to offer it. That doesn’t mean they think you haven’t done a good job, however; they just might not know how to express it.


Who they are: Born from 1981-2004, Millennials currently make up the largest generation, at more than 75-million strong.

What they value: Millennials are driven by mobility, diversity and a thirst for authenticity. They aren’t wed to the notion of a “forever home,” or a “forever” anything, really. Often saddled with hefty student loan debt, they desire homeownership, but may be forced to delay it longer than previous generations.

Millennials as clients: Millennials currently represent more than 30% of home buyers, and they are more pragmatic than you might think. They view buying a home as an investment, and fully intend to capitalize on that by buying, fixing and flipping properties. Many Millennials see home ownership as a way to improve their credit score.

Tips for working with Millennials

  • Don’t assume – Millennials are strongly tied to their unique identity as individuals, so get to know them one-on-one. Don’t generalize.
  • Communicate quickly – This is the generation that grew up texting. It’s their preferred way to communicate.
  • Make it fun – Millennials crave new experiences and enjoy making memories. When appropriate, think outside the box and add some fun to the home buying or selling process.