Some real estate agents feel threatened by younger (“Generation Y”) home buyers. Granted, you may hit some speed bumps on your way to tapping this market, but don’t let that stop you. After all, Gen Y represents the new crop of home buyers and a tremendous economic force, regardless of overall economic conditions.
Take these tips to heart and you could be working in (and profiting from) this market, rather than shying away from it.
Generation Y refers to individuals born between the years of 1977 through 1995. Not only is this the Internet generation, this is the iPhone / “Internet in my pocket” generation. But don’t let that intimidate you. The fundamental rules of marketing still apply: Use the right medium to communicate the right message and you have the key to successfully targeting any audience.
The Right Medium for Targeting Gen-Y
So the first challenge is figuring out how to connect with the über-connected. As it turns out, it can actually be easier to reach this audience because they are always connected. It just means you have to be connected too.
And here’s the great thing: real estate agents can reach Gen-Y’ers without mastering “Web 2.0” or becoming an Internet marketing guru. Instead, be strategic. Cherry pick a few new ways to reach this audience based on what will return the greatest payout. For example, take five minutes right now and create a free account on Facebook – a social networking website.
The Gen Y demographic communicates differently. Many avoid speaking on the phone to anyone except those in their inner circle. Yet they’ll chat for hours online, communicate via text message nonstop, and love accumulating connections on Facebook and similar sites.
Two simple Facebook tips:
- Tip #1: If you have a potential client, add him or her to your network. This makes it super easy for the client to ask questions and allows you to initiate conversations in a medium where Gen Y’ers feel comfortable.
- Tip #2: When you have a hot, new listing, update your Facebook “status” and mention it.
Social networking is not the only way to reach younger generations. Video is another great Internet marketing technique for quickly spreading the word about a new real estate listing to the Gen-Y market. This is where YouTube comes into play.
YouTube is as easy to use as it is to say. Simply create an account and post your real estate video tours for free. By posting video tours to YouTube, you’re again putting yourself where Gen-Y’ers are looking. Don’t know how to create a video? Post an ad on Craigslist and have a Gen-Y’er create the video for you or better yet, teach you. How’s that for really tapping a market!
Maybe even with these techniques you’re struggling to get exposure for your listings on the Internet. Here’s another simple solution: Promote your listings on specialty real estate sites. Warning – don’t plug and chug all of your listings into every site out there. Instead, strategically map out which listing sites would be a good fit for you and your market area, and then test the results.
The Right Message for Targeting Gen-Y
So by now I’m sure you can guess there is a second challenge. It’s not simply about “how” to communicate; it’s also about “what” to communicate. After all, the Internet is merely a means to reach your audience. Ultimately, it’s your message that needs to resonate and sell.
Start by understanding the target market. Think about which economic changes have impacted Gen-Yer’s the most. Saving for a down payment is harder today. With uncertainty in the market, increasing health care costs, outstanding college loans and overwhelming credit card debt, Gen-Y’ers find it tough to commit to a major decision between buying and renting.
Banks are cracking down with tougher rules too. Having to come up with a 5% or 10% down payment for example may seem feasible for some homebuyers at first. But when banks change that initial 5% or 10% to 15% or 20%, the task may be impossible for Gen-Y’ers who don’t have parents helping them.
Then again, parental involvement may be something you can expect. Parents of Gen-Y children tend to be more involved (some may even say “coddling”) than those of past generations.
Don’t shy away from these uncomfortable facts. Instead, consider addressing these concerns directly on your Web site. For example, you could include an article or calculator on “Should I rent or should I buy?” or advice on buying real estate with a parent. By being upfront with customers and providing valuable information, you’ll be seen as a resource and a trusted adviser. That way, whenever the person decides to buy, you’ll be on their mind.
With these tips, you now have what it takes to start selling to the Gen-Y market with confidence. Good luck!