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Four Easy Ways to Make Your Real Estate Website Gen-Y Friendly

May 21, 2008
Well versed in internet etiquette and keen to find the information that'll help them make a sound decision quickly, the 76 million strong Generation Y has started digging its heels into the real estate market with a whole new set of expectations than generations before them.

If you want to capitalize on this budding new generation who are tougher to please, quick to scan and even quicker to pass judgment, you need to take a long hard look at your website (the first stop for Gen-Yers doing research) and consider these five easy ways to make your website more Gen-Y friendly.

First, keep it simple. Website designs should be easy to use, pages labeled clearly (ditch "Bob's Corner" in favor of a more obvious"Blog" label) and free of annoying or "cute" site clutter. Annoying and rarely cute site clutter includes clip art, glittery graphics (leave "cute" or "funny" graphics to Facebook and MySpace tweens) and background music.

Consider the popularity of Apple's iTunes music store, now the #1 music store in the United States (both retail and online), as an example. Most Gen-Yers, myself included, listen to their own playlists while browsing the web so it's the ultimate website taboo to blare cheesy elevator music as I browse for information.

Next on the chopping block should be your gateway registration forms. A gateway registration form is literally a locked door that tells your web user that they aren't welcome to use your website features (i.e. real estate search) without first declaring who they are, why they are there and what their intentions are.

Imagine if you were to walk into a high end designer store and the entire staff created a human barrier and stopped you. "Who are you?" they ask. "Why are you here?" they prod. With a suspicious eye they ask "What do you want from us?"

If you're like me you'd turn around and walk out. It's invasive, rude and high pressure. That's the exact same message your gateway registration form sends to web users. Instead, offer "Contact Us" forms on pages where the user would typically want to request more information.

Gen-Y is a research first, act later bunch. There is no hard selling to Gen-Y because if you try you will be left behind and they'll move on to the next website.

A phone call to an agent can be very intimidating because it says I'm calling for more information right away but can be interpreted as I'd like to act right away. While still doing their research, Gen-Y will feel more comfortable asking you questions in a low pressure atmosphere where they can still be in control.

Text messaging, AOL Instant Messenger/GoogleTalk and email are all great ways to build rapport and prove your expertise without high pressure hindrances. Of course you'll want to eventually transition the inquirer to a client so gradually lead into phone conversation by offering to answer any questions they may have by calling your cell/office number.

Now here's one for the ego. Skip the sales pitch as Gen-Y wants to know more about real estate and not about you or your dog Skip. That's not to say they don't care about you or your furry companion but real estate info should be front and center.

Also, drop the "#1 agent", "gets the best price", "everything I touch turns to sold" spiel. Again, self indulgent and has little to do with real estate. Write honestly and share how you can help based on your experience. Gen-Y appreciates honesty and you'll gain more clients this way than touting beach pictures of Skip on your real estate marketing materials.

With a small investment in both time and money you'll position your website to captivate the newest generation of real estate buyers, sellers and renters and be well on your way to building life long customers.
About the Author
Joshua Ferris is an Orange County New York real estate specialist based in Monroe New York . Home buyers considering the area will appreciate his indispensable Monroe New York real estate guide.
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