Benjamin S. Blakley is a licensed Virginia real estate agent serving the Northern Virginia region—including Leesburg, Ashburn, Sterling, Herndon, Reston, McLean, Alexandria, and Arlington. Before getting into the real estate business, Benjamin spent 16 years in the telecommunications industry. But he was always intrigued by construction, architecture, and spaces. This led him to begin his real estate career ten years ago, as an investor in Richmond, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland.
Four years ago, he earned his real estate license and became an active agent. Today, as a full-time agent and a member of Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®, his objective remains to be an advocate for his clients and provide them the guidance and expertise needed to provide value and positively affect their bottom line. Whether working with Millennials or other generations, his goal is to service and educate his real estate clients and ensure their transactions close smoothly.
How does Benjamin find success with his Millennial real estate clients? We went one-on-one with him to find out.
Q: How do your Millennial clients find their way to you?
A: Millennials are knee deep into technology. However, a good reputation and word-of-mouth within this demographic is an invitation to the cool table in the lunch room. In my opinion, the referral business is where agents are being found and hired. The online search equates to kicking the tires when buying a car. Your content, presentation, network, and track record are all a click away. A strong online presence coupled with an active network helps the most diligent buyers gather all the information they need to make an intelligent decision based on their own research.
Q: How are you connecting with your Millennial real estate clients?
A: Early and often, engaging recent college graduates who may not be in the conversation today but will soon find themselves contemplating their desire to venture out on their own. Producing as much quality educational content as possible and leveraging social media, of course, to remain front-of-mind with potential buyers. Actual face-to-face networking is a great way to engage Millennial clients, as they have the desire to process multiple streams of information in a variety of formats and environments.
Q: What are your Millennial clients looking for in a home or neighborhood?
A: It varies from person to person. Generally, Millennials want walkability, and fun and hip neighborhoods offering diversity in people and restaurants, and a variety of cultural activities. Often transitional neighborhoods fit the bill; homes and neighborhoods with upsides because of current or future development. Fixer-uppers are a big draw as the prospect of sweat equity is very attractive on one hand as a shrewd investment, and on the other hand as an opportunity to put their personal signature on their home.
Q: What obstacles are Millennials facing when it comes to owning a home?
A: Again, I have found that it is pulling together all of the components about the process while keeping the total cost of ownership in mind. Keeping up with the house is a lot harder than acquiring the house.
Q: What are your biggest challenges in working with Millennials?
A: The fluidity of the market and the fluidity of the mindset of this demographic. Constant changes, ebb and flow, remaining an educator, authority, and advocate throughout the process—and reassuring the buyer that we are on the same team—are all challenges. I don’t dictate the market; I interpret it and help them find the patience when needed, as well as the courage to pull the trigger on a deal when the time is right.