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Targeting the Internet Generation

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RISMEDIA, Dec. 1, 2007-Prudential California Realty Associate Broker Linnette Edwards is a GenY-er who targets her peers – a population that is second in size only to the Baby Boomers. Her first real estate transaction was an e-lead and since then, she’s built her business entirely on Web-based marketing. Edwards has never used direct mail and she doesn’t go knocking on doors. Instead, she’s LinkedIn, Facebook’ed, and text and e-mail savvy-some of Edwards’ Internet-based marketing and communications forums.

“My business is mostly GenY and GenX. I get my face and information on the Internet and I’m not afraid of it. In fact, I welcome it,” said Edwards. “Right now I am considering YouTube and (other types of) video. The more online visibility I have, the better.”

GenY typically is defined as anyone born between 1976 and 2000. This group may also be referred to as the iGen, or Internet Generation. The National Association of Realtors estimates that between 72 million and 78 million Americans fall into the GenY category and notes that this group is the dominant sector of the home-buying market. Furthermore, this group is expected to make up the bulk of the U.S. population within the next 20 years.

“The GenY crowd is wired to the max and if you want to tap into this market, you’ll have to be at least as wired. Seventy-five percent of GenY-ers have a MySpace, Facebook or some other social networking account,” said Edwards.

Last month, Money Magazine featured social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as ways to standout in your field, according to the article, “If You’re Not On It, You’re Out of It.”

“You don’t have to be a GenY-er to target this consumer group,” said Edwards, “but they must be able to find you online and be comfortable with you. This group is research-oriented and prefers to gather their own information. They don’t like to be sold to and will call you when they’re ready to make a move.”

Putting your business information and some personal information on the Web is one way to build a relationship with this group.

“GenY is a bit voyeuristic, they grew up with MTV’s Real World and other ‘reality’ shows. If you provide a little more personal information about yourself, they will feel more comfortable with you,” said Edwards.

Edwards gets personal while staying professional by offering up information that may include multiple photos, her favorite restaurants and what she likes to do socially. Edwards also invites clients to view or join her social networks.

Using the same technology her clients use is also key. Edwards’ mobile phone gives her 24/7 access to her e-mail and other communications. If her clients text, she’ll text. If her clients prefer e-mail or conference calls, then that is how the deal will be carried out. These clients also like to have fun, so if they want to meet up for a drink to talk business, then that is how Edwards may build relationships and structure transactions.

GenY-ers aren’t putting off homeownership, but they are putting off marriage and parenting. This dynamic shapes their buying trends. This group of home buyers is much more likely to buy smaller homes located in edgier areas than have been the typical home buyers of the past who cared more about school districts and parks. These home buyers also tend to be single.

“They will give up curb appeal and space for entertainment, convenience and downtown life,” said Edwards. “And more importantly, they aren’t afraid to buy a house on their own.”

Here is a list of tips Edwards has for those who’d like to work more with GenY-ers:

1. Look at the Web the same way this information-hungry generation does. Visit and get to know Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Google, ZipRealty and the other sites these clients view.
2. Stay on their radar by sending them useful information. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to send clients to the aforementioned Web sites – they will find those sites anyway.
3. Network and get your face in front of this generation. Start with Facebook and build a strong Internet presence.
4. Don’t be pushy but be very quick to respond.
5. Educate these people about real estate and your expertise through forums they are familiar with, like YouTube and blogging.
6. Try not to become discouraged when your e-mails seem ignored. This group will contact you when they are ready.

Edwards added that while this group does their own legwork, when they are ready to buy, they expect the most qualified real estate agent to be there and make the transaction happen.

“GenY is very research-oriented. We will spend the time to research and scrutinize to make sure we are getting the most value for our money. And we will pay a premium for what we feel is right and of high value,” said Edwards.

For more information, visit www.prudentialproperties.com.

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