Use the Web to find Gen Y homebuyers

July 04, 2008|By ILYCE GLINK

Despite the housing recession, there are still more than 1.5 million real estate agents in the United States.

Competition is one thing good real estate agents have in common. Real estate agents are used to competing heartily against one another for market share and the same listings. They're used to competing against other agents who have comparable houses for sale in the same neighborhood.

But on the World Wide Web, the nature of real estate competition is changing - particularly if you're interested in snagging Gen Y-ers, those young and future homebuyers now in their 20s.

How real estate agents are finding these buyers and interacting with them require some of the same skills your teenager might have mastered, combined with a mastery of hard-core local real estate and demographic information.

The second iteration of the Internet is called Web 2.0, and at its core is something called social networking. Over the past four months, we've been dipping our toes into the social networking world to better understand how today's teenagers and twentysomethings interact with one another and the outside world - and what this means for real estate going forward.

We started by launching Ilyce Glink sites at Facebook, MySpace, Current.com, Friendster, Bebo and elsewhere. These sites feature some of the real estate and personal finance content I've created through the years. The other part of our social networking strategy includes "twittering" regularly at Twitter.com/glink, uploading videos about real estate and personal finance to YouTube.com/expertrealestatetips, and signing up for LinkedIn (linkedin.com), a site that allows business colleagues and partners to network, and tends to pitch toward a somewhat older crowd.

There are plenty of real estate agents, brokers, investors, educators and mortgage lenders who are active on these sites.

If you are a real estate agent, you can join or start real estate-related groups with location-specific ties, such as Chicago and Atlanta, which would provide a real estate professional the opportunity to reach prospective clients. Brokers with expertise in a specific neighborhood start groups that might provide information about a three-block-square area. Buyers and sellers interested in the happenings of that micro-market will be able to get information that might be unavailable elsewhere.

If you're a broker in a college town with students who might be looking for a home, you may be able to link them into your site so they could get updates about neighborhoods they might want to live in after graduation. Realtors are also connecting to one another, setting up relationships that can be profitable by increasing your referral network.

Whether you're working in the world of real estate or some other business, here are things to think about if you're going to dabble in Web 2.0:

Social networking takes time. Connecting online can help build your business, but it takes a lot of time - and time generally is in short supply for real estate agents.

Be flexible. You can start with a plan but be prepared to make changes along the way.

Stay attuned to new technology and Web sites.

There are thousands of real estate agents and mortgage lenders who have signed up for these social networking sites and are spending time trying to forge connections that will bring in business.

What is becoming clear is that you have to be there, or you might be left behind.

Contact Ilyce Glink at www.thinkglink.com, or by mail at Real Estate Matters Syndicate, P.O. Box 366, Glencoe, Ill. 60022, or call her radio show at 800-972-8255 from 11 a.m. to noon Sundays.

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