Generation X – Caution: Read Instructions Before Use

Posted on November 1, 2007 | by Denny Oh

iPods. Treo 700p. Torents. Guitar Hero. Jager Bombs. Flash Drives. Wikipedia. Google Earth. Rehab(not the AA kind). 802.11a/b/g/n. SMS/MMS.

If you just read this and have no idea what Im talking about, then chances are, you’re not part of my generation. What is my generation? Well, depending on who you ask, having been born in 1980, Im a Generation Xer. The technical definition is those who were born immediately after the Baby Boomers. The exact end date (roughly 1980 “ Generation Y or the Millenials coming after us) for this generation is debatable, but thats not the point. The point is, is that with approximately 49 million text messaging, Bluetoothing, pho-hawk wearing, DVRing, Blackberry multitaskers, all you pre-Gen Xers need to adapt.

This applies not only applies to the business world, but everything out there. When I look at my parents lifestyles, versus mine, Im blown away at Bluetooth-suithow different our daily lives are. I use my Treo 700 as my alarm and one and only phone “ they use a regular clock radio alarm (no iPods in this house), have an answering machine and have to hold their cell phones as far away from their faces so they can just make out the buttons. Im connected to the Web 24/7 and write emails from my cell, while Im talking on my Bluetooth earpiece as I drive to an appointment “ they check their email once, or twice a month (at least they don’t use AOL) and drive with their hands at 2 and 10 and probably think Bluetooth is some new rock group. I DVR 10 different shows, shop on eBay and read the paper online “ they have a giant antenna on top of their roof(and its not a satellite), look up phone numbers from the Yellow Pages(yes they still exist) and ask people for directions instead of Map Questing it.

Ok, so they’re a bit out dated so what? Im by no means saying that Generation Xers are better, or somehow superior to the Baby BoomersIm just saying that technology has become so integral in our lives and society, that if you are in the real estate industry, or practically any people-oriented industry, you have to adapt. And don’t think that my parents work in a peanut factory, or have no education “ my father is an aerospace engineer and my mom is a registered nurse “ this is why it amazes me even more that were so technologically apart. Case in point, “The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes“thanks Sen. Stephens (ok so I cheated a bit “ Stephens was born in 1923!).
I work for Prudential California Realty in Downtown San Diego and I deal with a lot of clients and a lot of Realtors. I say this not because I want you to think that I do a lot of business, but because it substantiates the comments Im about to make.

Excluding a few of you technologically advanced Baby Boomers, there is a very big difference in how I deal with people who are, well older. For one, Ive noticed that my clients who are younger, are typically much quicker to respond. This is great because if were in the middle of an escrow and I need something reviewed and sent back to me, my Gen X clients (or agents) will get my emails on their PDAs, read them wherever they are and then respond, providing the ever so familiar Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device signature. My older clients will typically get back to me hours, or even days later, unless I call them and tell them its urgent.

To piggyback on this, here are a few reasons why I love emails

  • Unlike phone conversations (unless you keep a conversation log) it keeps a record of your conversations and can serve as evidence when the other agents says, You never told me that.
  • Emails are often quicker than phone conversations and more precise “ you cant use bullet points on the phone, nor do emails ever say, What? Can you repeat that? You were cutting out.
  • You can email anyone, anytime. Theres no bad etiquette on how late, or how early you can email someone.
  • With email, you can respond to questions at your convenience, knowledgeably and competently and even provide useful links, or pictures.

Another thing that Ive noticed is that my clients who are more Web savvy will often send me listings that they have questions about. Even though I may have already seen this home and have filtered it out because it didn’t match what my clients were looking for, it still helps me because I can pick up on the qualities that they’re looking for “ like the large backyard, or the remodeled kitchen, or whatever. It seems like my younger clients are more interactive and have typically done more research by the time they contact me to help them find a home “ Googling market statistics, checking out homes online, reading real estate blogs, etc.

To add to my generation of 49 million or so, the younger Generation Y, or Millennials, are 73 million strong and even more tech savvy. If you think Im wrong, just watch a teenager play a video game any video game. And if you really want to feel old, just challenge the kid to a round. As computers become faster and more powerful, games, applications and life in general has the potential to become more complex and interactive.

This is why I think the real estateTexting industry is seeing and must go through, if you will, an upgrade. Real Estate 2.0. For example, the biggest factor Ive noticed in successfully converting a lead, into a client, is response time. If you, the home buyer, are browsing the web and email an agent a question about their listing, or about a building the agent better get back to you within minutes “ not hours. Gen Xers have no patience. If you want a perfect example of what its like to be a 20 or 30 something year old, just read this article (the video at the beginning is the best part) that Jason Benesch of the Real Estate Tomato wrote.

Here are a few reasons why text messages are awesome

  • They’re quick and to the point (does this sound familiar?).
  • You can quietly check them in a meeting, at lunch, or even while on the phone and reply just as discretely.
  • You can cut and paste the info into your phone “ phone numbers, addresses, emails, etc.

Google-maps-treo-lgAnd I know you might think that emails and text messages are impersonal, but thats ok. I don’t rely solely on these tools, but I do take advantage of them when possible. The other day my client texted me that he was running late for our appointment because he was lost. I texted him the address of the house we were supposed to look at, he copied it into Google Maps on his phone and instantly had a turn-by-turn route to our meeting point. Another time, I was out with a client and as they always do, he asked, What about that house? And if you’re a Realtor, you know Id already pulled up every house that even remotely fit his criteria and that the one he was standing in front of wasn’t one of them. But, because I could pull up the listing on my Treo, I quickly told him that it was $200K over his budget and we moved on.

But you are right, even with all this technology, I still call my clients, meet them for lunch and send them hand written letters. Its all about taking advantage of every tool you can. Just keep in mind who you’re dealing with the text messager, or the No.2 pencil user. And now, I have to go explain to my mom that I cant hear her when she leaves a message on my cell phone, asking Denny, are you there?.

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  1. […] I am now offically a geek – or at least a regular contributor for the Zillow created,Geek Estate Blog. The site was created as a resource for real estate professionals who want to learn more about how they can grow their business through smart use of technology. I was asked to join the site and write about how I use technology to reach out to my clients, specifically those of the Generations X and Y. […]