In Focus: Doing Business Without Talking — Millennials’ Impact on CRE

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Those involved in corporate real estate are increasingly adopting a digital approach to conducting business.

Most Millennials can barely remember a time before the Internet, and for most of their adult lives, they have only needed to reach into their pocket or purse to access it. Social planning, paying bills, dating, shopping — for most experiences, they expect a digital component. But even though we call these pocket devices “smart phones,” for millennials (and increasingly for older generations as well), the part of this device they use the least is the phone app. 

By and large, millennials don’t want to talk to people. They want to use an app, a mobile website, texting, Snapchat, or any of a multitude of other means to communicate digitally. And who can blame them? Texting is more efficient. You don’t get put on hold or find yourself trapped in a long, unproductive conversation. While waiting for the other party to respond, you can work on other tasks, and there’s typically a complete record of the conversation saved if you need to refer back to it.

What’s more, millennials don’t necessarily need a physical place to experience a connected community. My youngest son (post-millennial generation Z), for instance, is happy to stay in his bedroom with his headset on and connect with his friends digitally — no hanging out at the mall…no hours-long phone calls with the girlfriend…just a never-ending stream of snaps.

The New Norm

Tech over talk is the new norm, and this norm is making its way through commercial real estate as this generation ages and rises in influence and power. It’s already started with student housing, it’s moving into traditional multifamily, and eventually will change how commercial deals will be done. 

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