More and more millennials are in the suburban home buying market—and more and more of them are leaning on Instagram to scope suburbia.
Three in five millennials use Instagram daily—and about 37% of all home purchases are being made by this Insta-generation. Put that together and we’re seeing a major shift in the way city families explore the suburbs and, ultimately, land on their perfect home.
There’s lots of good in adding this visual layer to your suburban search. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s literally in the palm of your hand. With Instagram, you’re getting insta-information from locals, area businesses and other true insiders, versus dates population info and pics that seem more stock photo than a behind-the-scenes snapshot. To us, that’s always a win.
The challenges? Just like any social media platform, it’s tough to gauge just how authentic images are—editing still happens, whether snaps are coming from a local high school student or a local business. And if you’re anchoring your search based on the stream of pics emerging from your latest hashtag, you could be leaving a lot up to the imagination or, on the flip side, overlooking amazing communities because they aren’t camera-ready—and that can be problematic.
Our take? Use Instagram and other social platforms to get a quick hit of a community, a neighborhood or a house, but don’t let that be your be-all, end-all. Done right—and paired with your Suburban Jungle Strategist insights and town tours—Instagram can help round out your view of a suburb. And we’re #allin on that.
#1. We ♥: Town-Related Hashtags
Follow hashtags for the towns you’re considering—i.e. #greenwich, #paloalto, #bethesda—and see what people in those communities are snapping and sharing. Or, check out the local schools’ handle and see the latest from the districts you’re considering. While these pics and videos aren’t the be-all, end-all, you will get a quick-hit sense of who’s there and how they’re engaging with the community—and that can be very important when choosing a town.
#2. We ♥: Getting an Instagram Education
Depending on where you grew up and the houses and towns you’ve toured recently, you probably have a good sense of exactly what kind of house you want to search for. But towns vary, prices vary and even the style of houses varies, often from community to community.
Exploring virtual open houses via social media or, simply, scoping out different styles of homes—ranches, Colonials, mother/daughter properties and even “tiny” homes—may help you get a better sense of what you’d consider beyond just the basics. Not only could that open your search, but it could help you broaden your suburban search while determining the smart, green and visual upgrades you’ll want (and need…) to make post-move.
#3. We ♥: Snapping and Sharing Searches
From the cute ice cream parlor downtown to the amazing playground your kids never wanted to leave, there are a lot of cool things to see and do as you’re exploring suburbia—and, often, those finds find their way to Instagram…#sjtowntour, anyone?
That can be a huge positive as you’re exploring. Not only can your Suburban Jungle Strategist get a glimpse behind-the-scenes as you’re touring suburbia, but your friends and friends of friends will see you pop up in their feeds and can easily join the conversation. Maybe your old college roomie is moving to the Rivertowns in the Spring—surprise! Or maybe an old neighbor made the leap to Orinda and never looked back—and now you’ve got an amazing local connection in a community you’re considering.
#4. We Say 🙅: Judging a Town (or House) By Its #
While sharing can be a serious positive, many millennial buyers are all about finding move-in ready homes prime for their Instagram close up. While we’re all about sharing and socializing our ‘burbs and our homes, remember not to discount houses just because they need a little TLC. Sometimes a quick coat of paint and patio refresh is all it takes to upgrade a house from #notsomuch to #mydreamhome.
#5. We Say 🙅: Not Everyone’s a Photographer…
Once upon a time taking high-quality photos was a feat for professionals only. But since smartphones are now commonplace, snapping and sharing images can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
That can be a good thing…but in our experience, it can be a bad thing, too. Check out a house or community online and you’ll no doubt be met with albums and streaming live house and community tours shot from a resident’s phone. When those visuals are good, great! When they aren’t, though, they can deter people from a house or town that could be perfect.
Our advice? While scoping sights on Instagram curbs some of the leg work, it’s hard to get a sense for a house—and especially a town—without pounding the pavement a bit. In other words, poke around on Insta, but don’t make any decisions about where you do—or don’t—belong based on a few quick pics.
It’s not about bedrooms and bathrooms, but the right place to raise your family. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.