Buying Advice

Generation Gap!

When I grew up, we had 3 channels on TV (depending on how the roof antenna twisted in the wind) and when it came time to make a phone call, the phone was firmly affixed to the wall. At times, we even shared the line with a neighbor. When my Aunt Rochelle would be on her way to visit, she’d call “collect” and my parents would decline the call because they knew this was her way of telling us to expect her soon. Long distance calls were expensive.

I often wonder how I’d explain cell phones to my grandmother, who by all accounts would have been born even prior to what is now termed the “Silent Generation” (those 75-95). The idea that you can walk around with a device that makes phone calls, takes pictures, broadcasts video, and has apps for just about anything including blowing out birthday candles, would be impossible for her to grasp.

Talk to Me…

These days, REALTORS® must be constantly aware of generational differences. Each generation searches for property differently. In fact, they even have preferences about how they want to communicate.

Digital Media

Younger buyers (Millennials) top out around 40 years old. Older Millennials tend to be married and understand the buying process better. Younger buyers naturally struggle with understanding concepts related to mortgages and the buying process. These buyers love texting and search for property on their mobile device…much to small for this Baby Boomer! But don’t underestimate the value of property videos across the generations.

GEN X are those aged 41-55. These buyers use a combination of devices to conduct their searches. Baby Boomers (56-74) tend to use a laptop or desktop for searches. Regardless of age, almost every buyer starts their search online.

Traditional Media

Older buyers, of course, are more likely to read print ads. I can attest that readership of my print article Is still quite high, while use of print ads by real estate agents, in general, has really waned. Older readers are more likely to reach out to an agent they find in print while younger buyers tend to seek referrals.

Wish List

Other fun facts indicate that each generation prioritizes their search criteria differently. Millennials look for a shorter work commute. This makes perfect sense because most are still raising a family. I can’t say this is a huge decision driver in Hawai`i because, after all, our choices are driven in large part by price vs location.

Interestingly (according to Sep 2021 ABR newsletter) finding the right property is still a significant challenge across the board. As agents, searches nowadays start with a buyer who provides their “short list”. We often start there and narrow/amend their search.

Out-of-area buyers don’t always understand neighborhoods and infrastructure challenges/differences. More buyers are showing up in person now that COVID restrictions have eased, but educating buyers about our neighborhoods is still a large part of what we do.

Lastly, agents need to recognize that each age group (and even individual buyers/sellers) has different preferences regarding how they want communication to flow. We often forget that texting is normally an abbreviated form of communication. It tends to leave a ton of unanswered questions that neither buyer nor seller even knew they had. So, if you are 20 or 80, a good old fashioned phone call (attached to the wall or not) followed by an email is really the best way to ensure clarity when it comes to life’s largest personal transactions!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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November 11, 2021

I bought my condo in Waikiki about 5 years ago through a Hawai’i Life agent that showed it to me via video chat because I am on the mainland. There was an initial phone call but it was mostly texts and emails until it got to the important decision making time. Yes, I am a Get-X category client.

Denise Nakanishi, R(B)

November 20, 2021

> That’s amazing Marcel! I’m glad it worked out for your and I hope you’re enjoying your condo 🙂

Sifiso Kweyama

April 22, 2022

There is a generation gap, which is a simple concept but very well explained. Although it facilitates arguments because of the difference in thought processes, it is necessary in the growth of society. Check out this article for more information on gen y and gen z in the workplace.

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