Five days after his 19th birthday, and just a few months after receiving his high school diploma, Nelson Jett graduated into the family business.
Jett and his grandmother, a REALTOR® for two and a half decades, have been their own real estate team in western Nebraska since that day in 2017, when Jett officially earned his real estate license.
“It was a family thing, something I always wanted to do,” the now 25-year-old recounts from his office in North Platte, a town of about 26,000.
Working alongside one another for more than five years, their priorities and practices, of course, are aligned. But the generational divide between Jett and his grandmother, age 70, remains undeniable.
“Sometimes we view the market differently,” Jett says. “We try to do everything 50-50 so we know each other’s clients really well, and sometimes I have different ideas than her when we’re working to price a property or making other decisions. But we’re also very similar in other ways, so we work well together.”
Many of those differences have proven to be an asset in a market that is attracting more and more younger Americans. As a member of Generation Z, generally categorized as those born between 1997 and 2012, Jett has unique insight into the patterns and preferences of his contemporaries and former classmates.
The National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) latest Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, released earlier this year, examined similarities and differences of homebuyers and sellers across various age groups. Among a host of key findings, perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that Gen Z (classified by NAR for this report as those aged 18-23) now makes up 4% of homebuyers in America.
The shifts in the market as a result of this expanding demographic will only accelerate as the group, collectively, takes additional steps toward homeownership.
“During some of those multiple-offer situations within the past two years, I had a handful of clients about my age who were taking jobs closer to home and trying to figure out where they wanted to live after college,” Jett recounts. “I would do a video or FaceTime tour of the property, and they just bought the house without ever stepping foot inside or seeing it in person.
“A lot of our older demographic, I would say 50 and up, aren’t always as comfortable with that.”
Although communication styles differ from traditional buyers—“They don’t want phone calls, and they don’t check their email,” Jett says affably about many of his younger clients—what Jett believes stands out most about his generation is the education so many of them need about how to best navigate the market.
“Sometimes we’ll sit down with Gen Z buyers and we see how much undereducation there is about homebuying in our country,” Jett reflects. “I’ll explain the merits of buying over renting and the long-term wealth they are accumulating by making mortgage payments every month. It’s not something that everyone gets right off the bat, especially people my age.
“But I can’t say that I would personally know a lot about the process and the value of homeownership if I didn’t have a grandmother in the business.”
From his job as a real estate agent—and his position, since January 2023, as a member of NAR’s Young Professional Network—Jett relishes the opportunity to pass along the knowledge he knows he was fortunate to have absorbed from his family.
“In all of these roles, the most important thing is protecting and promoting the REALTOR® brand as a whole,” Jett says. “There’s something to having a physical person helping you through this transaction on the other side. Getting to sit down with them—whether through talk or text or phone calls—is so critical.”
Maybe not phone calls. But the message remains the same. No matter the age of the client—or the mode of communication they prefer.
For more information, visit https://www.nar.realtor/.