06 Nov I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing the tendencies of teens to generation Y. They describe them as the “network generation”. It raises this question, “If more affordable housing is the market for 2010 – 2012, how will we communicate this to the younger generations?” You can read the article here.

It’s one thing to understand the product, but we also need to understand whom we are selling it to. A big part of that is understanding how they communicate and perceive information.

Below are some of the questions that the article evokes and the answers I have for them.

Will the next generation buyer want to visit a sales center?

Most home buyers are able to gather all the information they need about a property from the comfort of their own home. This includes information about the area, amenities and pricing. They can also gather this information through their friends via social networks. So what should we do? Should we establish realistic virtual tours of a property and hope they buy from that? Should we cut down or eliminate sales agents on property?

The answer is no. Sales agents will still be needed somewhere along the way, but in new ways in order to accommodate this generation. Maybe it will be through Facebook or Twitter. Regardless of the channel, young home buyers will always need legal and financial guidance when purchasing a new home.

Generation Y sees blogs, Facebook and Twitter as valid and trustworthy information. If a friend tells a potential buyer that your property has terrible amenities, will they take this as the gospel?

The described scenario will be difficult to combat. The reality is that you have no control over what people are saying about your product. This is especially important in marketing. You have to make sure that what you’re advertising is truthful. There can’t be any vagueness to what you’re selling. Disclaimers can’t protect you from social conversations. Any developer will tell you that what is planned at the beginning can be very different from the final product. We need to be very careful about what is promised.

The article argues that this generation breaks through the “fluff” and gets right to the point. My teenage daughter doesn’t want to be “sold”. She sees straight through the “fluff”. Real estate has historically sold the “dream”. Will we have to sell this generation differently?

I think this generation still has a dream; they just don’t approach it from the same direction as previous generations. It’s human nature to desire, plan and to have expectations. In the future, we are going to have to sell more on the practicality of the product, and how it fits into the “dream”.

With social networking, the marketing of your brand has become more important than ever. I understand this, but how dependent should we become on social networking?

I don’t think social networking is going away anytime soon, but I do feel cautious about how dependant real estate is trying to become on it. It’s become this “next big thing” very quickly, which makes it vulnerable to the next “next big thing”. Marketing is going to become a much more active field than it has been in the past. As opposed to setting up ad campaigns, collateral materials and websites and letting them remain static for months at a time, we will have to provide a steady stream of information/marketing to the world on a regular basis. The more content and the faster it’s released, the better. The danger lies in the untruthfulness of our messages. The reaction time from the consumer is going to be much faster and less forgiving.

What are some of your thoughts?

What questions did the article raise in your mind? Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

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Sibet B Freides