44 Ounces of Wisdom

I walked into a local Circle K recently to grab a quick fountain drink – I don’t need anyone telling me how soda is bad for me and my kidneys, so just go with me on this – when I looked up and saw there was a small dispenser that you could use to add a flavor shot to your drink of choice. You love Mountain Dew but want to add a little lemon to it, pop your styrofoam cup under the dispenser, press “lemon”, and out shoots a short burst of yellow-colored syrup that – I’m assuming – is lemon flavored. Variety is the spice (or syrup) of life, right?

What caused me to pause, though, was on this particular dispenser there were four choices: lemon, vanilla, cherry, and cherry (zero calories). Did I mention that the shot that comes out when you make one of these selections is enough syrup to fill, at best, the cap on top of a two-liter bottle of soda? How many calories could there be in the regular, unadulterated cherry syrup that made it necessary to come out with a zero-calorie alternative? Was there a rash of cases of young children and small Chihuahuas being rushed to the ER as a result of diabetic comas brought on by this calorie-laden cherry syrup that Circle K HQ made it their top priority to come out with this alternative? So many questions ran through my mind!

The truth of the matter is if you’re standing there filling up a foam chalice with 44 ounces of soda, is cutting down on the 10-15 calories (if that many) by going with “cherry lite” REALLY doing you any good? Chew and swallow the Twinkie in your mouth before answering. While you’re doing that, I’ll get to my point – I promise I have one.

This past week, I’ve conducted some informal research on millennials (read: I had a conversation with two people who are college graduates and are in their mid 20s) related to the real estate market. To wit, I asked them what is keeping them from purchasing their first home. You can guess at some of their answers and be dead nuts on, but the one answer I got from both of them that caused me to think about the subject of this newsletter is this: they don’t want to be tied down – they view purchasing a home as being chained to a particular city and giving up freedom. Light bulb moment!

Up until this very moment, the vast majority of us had the mindset of “once the millennials take a moment and realize that home ownership is the American dream, we’ll be good to go – just give them a little time.” After talking to these two people, I realized that mindset, when it comes to millennials, is similar to the thinking behind offering a zero-calorie cherry syrup – it’s dumb!

What I’m about to suggest is not intended to be THE answer – millennials, like everyone else, are individuals and have their own opinions – but I think it’s a good one: we need to treat them like investors, not home owners. We need to educate them on how to get the most house in the best neighborhood for the least amount of money. We need to demonstrate to them that a purchase is a wealth-building tool just like many other business ventures they might be considering to improve their station in life. This means helping them understand what others (renters in particular) are looking for in a house and pointing them in that direction – this will help them to see a purchase as a sense of financial freedom rather than being chained down. This approach, in many instances, is going to take more time than just getting a pre-qual and then putting them in a car to go look at houses, but those of us who put the time in now will do much better as this segment of the market is only going to grow. And when we start seeing the benefits of the time we’ve put in to help these investors, we’ll be able to take a break and have a soda – splurge, and get the real cherry.

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