So I recently came across a few articles about Millennials. You know about Millennials, right? Millennials are that group of folks who were born between, roughly, 1983 and 2004. There are estimates that approximately 80 million folks in the United States fit this age range.
I am personally intrigued by Generation Y for a couple of very near and dear reasons: my real estate business and our church plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
It stands to reason that learning more about an upcoming and “can be active in the real estate market,” generation is a worthwhile effort. After all, with about 80 million members of this generation, there are going to be some societal changes that will be instituted, simply due to the sheer numbers of this generation.
On the real estate front, I came across this article about why millennials are not buying homes in today’s housing recovery. The first reason given is:
1. They don’t like what they’ve seen: Millennials have seen their parents struggle firsthand. And they’ve seen their neighbors lose their homes, too. As a result, they’re nervous they could find themselves in a similar position — and all too easily. After all, when you buy on credit, you’re required to make regular payments, regardless of whether you lose your job, your business or are up against unexpected medical expenses. This has many millennials on edge, particularly given the state of the job market.
This makes logical sense. We are, after all, discussing a generation that has not known much in the way of peace, stability and economic good times. If a Millenial was born in 1983, they were 18 years old when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Upon graduating high school, the world suddenly became much more hostile, not-friendly, place. Seven years after 9/11, our financial system collapses; the Millenial is 25 years old and possibly ready to buy a house.
Another article that was brought to my attention is this one on the draw of big box churches to the 35 and over crowd, but not the under 25 crowd. From the article:
Take a 25 year old today: In their formative years the world was not a very nice place. They do not remember an America that was not at war. People they have never met want to bomb their buildings and crash their airplanes. If they work hard and get a good education, they may work at Starbucks and will spend 20 years paying off student loans. The market is a risk and home ownership might be a loser. How can they risk being tied to a home with fluctuating value when they will have to change careers and locales multiple times? There will not be a pension. Their 401k is a crap-shoot. Social Security will be bankrupt. Will they ever retire? Their viewpoint: The world is not their friend.
“The World is Not Their Friend.”
Granted, there are other considerations brought forth in both articles, but it is the concept that the world is not their friend that intrigues me. In working with Millennials to purchase their first homes, I can attest to picking up a high level of anxiety, distrust, and desire for authenticity.
Their anxiety on the home buying front manifests when I receive the multiple emails inquiring about properties that I did not send them via the multiple listing search we hand-crafted together. Their anxiety is that somehow they are missing out on a home and/or that, as an agent, I may not have been listening to their needs and desires. The distrust comes through in the same request for more information on those homes. The number of times I have had to reiterate to buyers about finding homes on third party websites versus what I can send them directly is a clear indication, to me, that the system is trusted, but not the person interfacing with the systems.
The anxiety and distrust leads me to believe that above most else, the Millennials are craving authenticity. Often times, as an agent, it is authenticity, backed with consistent performance, that breaks down the barriers of anxiety and distrust.
Perhaps not so oddly, we are seeing the same thing on the church planting side. With the exception that folks older than the Millennials are also clamoring for authenticity. Conversations at a coffee shop or the pub, turn in to longer, deeper conversations about life and turn in to gathering for a meal and attending events together.
In a world that is not our friend, people are craving authentic relationships. Yes. It is messy at times and also not nice. But there is gold in those relationships. There is authentic giving, receiving and care.
Authenticity requires us to be present in the now. Much of our world seems to distract us from the now. Our technology consistently and persistently throws new, shiny, and “better” in front of our senses. We become, as individuals, myopically focused on those things that we desire. One such item we crave intensely is security.
Yet, even that causes us to lose focus on the present. As Alan Hirsch states:
Isn’t it delightfully subversive to think that a drive and yearning for security is opposed to that which we need? As Millennials continue to work through their needs and security desires they run the risk of casting aside the authenticity they demand.