Where Are The Gen-Y REALTORS?

There’s a fascinating, if opaque, puff piece on the Gen-Y (or Millennials) over at HLN extensively quoting Nick Shore of MTV Insights, the market research and consulting arm of MTV. Money grafs:

What we found was counter to the often-charged caricature of today’s youth as “entitled” and “coddled.” Instead, we found a vibrant and strong fixer/maker/builder culture where nearly 3 in 4 Millennials believe “our generation is starting a movement to change old, outdated systems.” Put more broadly, if the American Dream isn’t working as promised, Millennials will take it upon themselves to create the next “version” of America.

The heady mix of forces driving this generation is only partly due to their sense of needing to fix something broken. The other, even more potent, side of the coin is the primacy they place on their own power of creativity. When asked “what word best defines the DNA of your generation?” the number one response was “Creative” and number two “Self-expressive.” A full 70% of Millennials in the study agreed “Creativity will save us!”

The video above, which goes with the story, has Nick Shore repeating this finding from MTV’s study:

Fifty-five percent of Millennials in our study said, “My hustle is more important than my MBA,” while 78% said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”

And this whole conversation is happening against a backdrop of unemployment and underemployment.

So I have to ask… where are the millions of Gen-Y REALTORS(r)? Seems to me that at least hustling in real estate would fit right into this new American Dreamer.

The Five Findings of MTV Insight

Let’s go through the five top findings of MTV Insight about Millennials. I think you’ll agree that all five point to enormous success in real estate.

#1 We do the “chill-hustle”
Far from the stereotypes of an entitled, over-trophied generation who lack resilience, we encountered Millennials doing what they call the “chill hustle.” Multi-tasking, working five side projects at once, placing a portfolio of project bets, and making it all “look easy.”

Fifty-five percent of Millennials in our study said, “My hustle is more important than my MBA,” while 78% said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”

They have got what we dubbed “Slashitude,” as in, “I’m a retail associate/CEO/ Techno DJ /food stylist.” Everyone, these days it seems, is a potpourri of evolving and overlapping skills.

Well, multi-tasking, working five side projects at once, placing a portfolio of bets — sounds like a real estate agent to me. Every time I’ve asked a real estate agent what they do, what skills are important, I get answers like, “See, I’m part financial advisor, part negotiator, part lawyer, part project manager, part psychologist, part assistant, part taxi driver, part friend, part marketer, and oh yeah, I blog and do content creation and engage on social networks and….” You get the picture.

#2 We hack

Hacking has jumped from a niche, tech-specific behavior implying something like breaking into someone’s database to being a meta-concept approach to problem solving and even business as a whole. To hack is to collectively piece together rapid-fire lateral solutions and workarounds to problems using available resources, creativity and crackling energy. We heard about storyhacks (team solutions to building narrative structures for movies, short films, etc.) and even lifehacks (easy short cuts to those bothersome speed bumps of everyday life like picking up the dry cleaning).

Piece together rapid-fire lateral solutions and workarounds to problems? Love of easy shortcuts? Why does that sound so familiar?

#3 We Beta

In the language of the lean start-up movement, you start with an MVP (minimum viable product), get it into the hands of some users, focus intently on feedback, and then iterate like crazy. For 72% of Millennials, “Life’s like an App. There’s always another version around the corner.”

Okay, so real estate agents don’t do this very much as a general rule… but the great ones do. Folks like RealSatisfied can tell you more about that, but the great agents and brokers I know are constantly fiddling with their stuff, whether that’s a website or a listing presentation or a transaction process.

So I imagine that the constant beta-testing Gen-Y real estate agent would simply kick ass in the marketplace.

#4 We Swarm

We already know Millennials are essentially a communal generation, and that they move together through social media to leverage change on small and even large scales (think of the social media dimension to the Occupy movement). But what we saw in the Generation Innovation study was the desire for physical proximity around projects – the thrill of sitting together, huddling around a problem, reveling in the serendipity of what Steven Johnson calls “the tangled bank.”

Essentially a communal generation, eh? Move together through social media, eh? But combined with desire for physical proximity?

Like maybe meeting new people all the time and showing them houses?

So in other words, they naturally are what all these real estate agents are paying gurus thousands of dollars to learn to be….

#5 We Bubble

The simplest way to describe this is to say that Millennials have an imaginary sign above their imaginary door that says “Haters not welcome.” Using their diverse but like-minded network, seeking environments that promote creativity, and tapping good old-fashioned intuition, the young people we studied built a kind of safety bubble around their projects. A semi-permeable membrane that allowed ideas, influences and constructive criticism through, but kept out the haters, as they believe nothing kills a good nascent idea faster than a certain kind of nay-saying energy.

And anyone who’s been around real estate for more than a visit understands that the one thing 99% of REALTORS dislike is “negativity”. Any criticism has to be couched in the most positive way possible, or else, it’s “Haters not welcome” in our industry as well.

Yeah, sometimes that can be a detriment, as the industry has a tough time looking squarely at the facts in the gaping maws. But on the whole, it’s a very positive, hope-driven business.

Get Your License, Young Man/Woman/Whatever

Seems to me that a “career” in real estate is perfectly suited for the Gen-Y hustler. (I put career in quotes since the Gen-Y doesn’t really seem to believe in the concept; it’s about diversifying, remember?) It’s extremely social, susceptible to hacks, beta-testing constantly = win, filled with positivity and hope every single day, and rewards those who can multi-task like they’re Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. (Gen-X reference; you young’uns can Google it.)

And the job market sort of sucks, no? You got $25,000 in non-dischargeable student loan debt, and you’re working at Starbucks for $9/hr, while doing four side projects on performance art or some shite. Meanwhile, if you sell one home a month, you’re making enough money to live a pretty nice middle-class lifestyle. So… what’s up?

It isn’t like getting a job as a real estate agent is difficult, since you don’t get paid and don’t get benefits.

So, where are y’all Millennial REALTORS at?




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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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