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INSIGHT -- Understanding Generation Y

21 April 2010 Reporter


Author and entrepreneur Peter Sheahan has dedicated his life’s work to understanding the machinations of the typical Generation Y’er, and explains the best ways to target this demographic of home buyers.


Even though interest rates are beginning to climb back to their historic average and the federal government has wound back the boosted first home owner grant, First Home Buyers and indeed Generation Y borrowers still account for a significant portion of the market.

Moreover, 41 per cent of Gen Y said they would ideally like to buy their first property in the next year.


So how do real estate agents target this very lucrative market?

Author of Making $#IT Happen Peter Sheahan says agents need to communicate with Generation Y borrowers on their level.

He says the first thing agents should do is think about how and where young people go to look for information, and the answer is obvious – the internet.

“If you’re not utilising online tools like Google Ad-words, which is so basic it’s a joke, then you’re not even in the game,” he says.

“If my little brother was going to buy a house the first place he’d go would be the internet. He would search for home loans and rates – he’d even search for brokers,” he says, adding that understanding where the first point of call is, is one of the key things to observe.


But while knowing where Gen Y borrowers go for information is easy, attracting them through advertising can prove slightly more difficult.

Mr Sheahan says agents should not weigh their potential customers down in broker jargon, but instead use simple buzz words that younger borrowers can relate to.

This is where Google Ad-words is useful.

Ad Words offers pay-per-click advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text and banner ads.

The Ad Words program includes local, national, and international distribution. Google’s text advertisements are short, consisting of one title line and two content text lines.

“With Google Ad Words you can really target your audience,” he says.

But while it is important for agents to communicate with their customers in a way that is easy to understand, Mr Sheahan says it is vital for agents to always present themselves as ‘professionals’.

“It is always important to ask: ‘What is going to make me seem like I’m a real expert in understanding this space?’,” he says.

And in doing this, Mr Sheahan says he would use thought, leadership and education as a driver.

“You might have on your website a 24 question tutorial, or a rate and affordability calculator, for example,” he says.


When it comes to social media like Facebook and Twitter, its effectiveness depends on what you’re selling, says Mr Sheahan.

“Frankly I’ve never heard of anyone buying a house from somebody because they’re on Twitter,” he says.

According to Mr Sheahan, businesses can get caught up in the various social media applications and think they have to be abreast of them in order to do well with a younger crowd.

However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, Mr Sheahan says if agents don’t use the social media applications in the right way, there is no point using them at all.

He advises agents who do use Twitter and Facebook to update them on a regular basis.

“Using social media is a full time job; you need to update and blog... For it to be effective, you’ve got to go hard,” he says, adding that social media can help an agent position themselves as an expert in the eyes of Gen Y borrowers.

And a key distinguishing feature of Gen Y is that they like the hard work done for them. So if you’re going to advertise your services on the internet, Mr Sheahan says you’ve got to ensure that you can be easily found.

And how does he know all this? He was a young property buyer himself.

“I bought my first place at 19,” he says, adding that he now has properties in Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and Sydney, among other places.

“I think leverage drove me to buy property. There are very few investment opportunities with the same kind of rate or return,” he says.

Peter Sheahan is an author and chief executive officer of the Centre for Skills Development, which specialises in large scale social change projects for clients such as Apple and IBM

INSIGHT -- Understanding Generation Y
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