In 2002, when Dara Alperen Cipollone purchased her first home in East Boston, her real estate agent suggested she would be a great fit for residential sales. With a BS in Healthcare Systems Management from University of Connecticut’s School of Business and several years of experience dedicated to standardizing healthcare information, Dara took a leap to real estate. She approaches real estate the same way she approached her healthcare work: ensuring that, from start to finish, whether buying or selling, her clients have a smooth transaction and achieve their goal. Dara’s ability to listen to clients and her attention to detail landed her Exceptional Service Awards in 2011, 2012, and 2013 from Cartus/USAA, one of the nation’s largest relocation organizations. Now, with over a decade of experience in the real estate profession, these skills have made her the go-to Millennial real estate expert at RESIS.
Q: How do your Millennial real estate clients find their way to you?
A: My Millennial clients often come to me as a referral. This generation is certainly very high-tech, but they give serious weight to the experiences and advice of their friends. They may share their experience with friends and hear about me through Facebook, LinkedIn, Email, SnapChat, etc. But what they are looking for is attentive customer service, personal connection, and the validity that their friend/colleague/relation had a positive experience.
Q: How are you connecting with your Millennial real estate clients?
A: I connect with my Millennial clients by listening. I try not to overload with information; I try to wait patiently to see what’s important and respond with the information they are looking for. This is a generation used to accessing research in a way they can control. Some clients want tons and tons of research to go through on their own. Some want me to summarize the market data and give concise guidance on market values. I let each client set the tone for the pace and the amount of data I present. By answering their questions, creating resources specific to each client, and giving each client the kind of attention he or she wants (e.g. FaceTime, texts, emails, meetings, calls, and so on), I have been able to create a strong referral network.
Q: What are your Millennial real estate clients looking for in a property?
A: They don’t always say it outright, but I find many Millennials are looking for a sense of community. Through the comments they make and the questions they ask, I see this trend over and over. They want to truly live in the area they call home. They want to inhabit the entire neighborhood, not just the condo or house. They want to be able to live their daily routine close to home—walking to the store or local restaurants, to the parents’ groups and playgroups, running the trails, etc.
Q: What obstacles are Millennials facing in the Boston real estate market?
A: The obstacles Millennial real estate buyers face for owning a home in the Boston market come down to low inventory. Millennials in the Boston market tend to be well qualified, and the clients I have worked with tend to be buying well within their means. Their challenge is fighting multiple bids to get to an accepted offer. The second-largest challenge is finding something within their budget that is move-in ready. While they may be qualified for the purchase, many don’t have the additional capital for a renovation, nor do they have the time or know-how to accomplish a renovation.
They are also concerned about whether the property they are pursuing will hold its value and appreciate so they can build equity. Even when purchasing as a long-term home, Millennial real estate clients want to know their property will gain value, that they have made a wise investment with their money.
Q: What challenges do you experience working with Millennial real estate clients?
A: My biggest challenge in working with Millennials is to make sure I know more than they know! Millennials who are looking for a home research everything. I need to stay on top of the market and every new listing to assist them with navigating through what is the right information and what is to be ignored. For example, those popular home-finding shows give a perception that closing costs can be included in the sale. Unfortunately, in the hot Boston market, this strategy is non-existent. Some real estate tips and techniques they may get from friends and families in other markets will not apply here. Likewise, some comps may not apply to specific listings they are looking at. Millennial clients spend a lot of time looking at homes online. They will often ask things like why one condo two doors down sold for $100,000 less than one they are looking at. Knowing the nuances of my market inside and out—condition of units, elevator vs. walk-up buildings, laundry in basement vs. units, concierge vs. intercom, parking or not, etc.—helps to complement and clarify the research my clients are inevitably doing on their own.
Q: What advice do you have for other real estate agents working with Millennials?
A: My advice for other real estate pros working with millennials is to stay up-to-date on your use of technology. They won’t always call you on your office or mobile phone. You may have a Facebook post or message waiting in your inbox from your next client. Many Millennial real estate clients only communicate through text and email, and they prefer a quick response.