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Why Should I Care?

Authored by Carmen and Lloyd Multhauf, Administrators of the Generational Housing Specialist™ Council
and the GHS™ Designation

Today I received another email with foolish and off-color cartoons. I have also continued to receive chain letters, political "truths," and other cutesy stuff. Alerts come often that my "contacts" or "friends" are now friends with someone else or that they are traveling or that there is some other (meaningless) update on them.

These are coming from real estate professionals. There is nothing in these communications that is useful or informational about the real estate business or about their professional thoughts, ideas, or suggestions. I am on their broadcast mailing list along with their other real estate contacts including clients. Many of the messages are just forwarded and still have a whole list of names from the other "forwarders." And my email address is in the "to" line along with dozens of others. I don't want to be one of 5000 friends. You don't have time for a meaningful relationship with all of us.

When I have questioned the senders about these bulk mailings, the response I get is " I just want you to know I am thinking about you."  I don't want to be thought about in such a casual and unconscious way. Send me something that I should care about.

Don't presume that your client likes to receive cartoons or that they won't be offended by some language or photos. Don't presume that your client wants to know your whereabouts and your latest bike ride or jog.

If sending to a client, send something useful. Maybe you have read an article about the kid's school or sports activity. Maybe there is a play in town they might want to know about. Maybe there is a birthday, or anniversary, or a reminder of the date they moved into their home. Build a real relationship with someone. Get to know them and what they would welcome from you. Make it personal. To get a string of names attached to a forwarded piece is not at all personalized and is in some cases offensive.

Here are a few suggestions that run along generational lines. Learn about peer personalities and how they make life decisions, how they make friends, how they build relationships, and how they like to communicate.

We know that Gen X'ers build strong family/friend groups. They look to them as consultants. You can become one of the group but they have to trust you and believe that you have a genuine interest in them. Forwarded vacuous emails just don't cut it. Understand their struggle to balance more family time with the cost and time of commuting. Recognize the lifestyle they want to achieve.

Boomers are busy. They have lots of job stress and retirement planning going on while they still have to worry about their aging parents and their jobless kids. Their portfolios have taken a hit. Their high-end McMansions have probably lost value and they are more difficult to sell. The second home market is struggling. They expect you to be an expert so they want professional communication with you. Be selective in what you send them and censor your own social networking sites. Know your market. Suggest solutions and be honest with the projections.

Millennials (Gen Y) are a larger generations than the Boomers, in part because of immigration. The oldest are now 28 and in a few years they will enter their top buying years. Many are new or first-generation American families , which may be reflected in their buying patterns. Some may be staying at "home" longer with their parents. Unlike the Boomers, many Millennials really like their parents and find living with them a good experience. Builders are watching to see if this generation will be urbanites or will continue the suburban experience. Much will depend on transportation costs and environmental considerations.

So, before you send something out or communicate on your social networks, website, or electronic media, decide if the reaction of the receiver will be genuine interest, or "why should I care?" You might find that it won't take too many inane "forwards" for the delete button to be an automatic response to your name.

Carmen and Lloyd Multhauf are the founding developers of the Generational Housing Specialist™ Council, a national real estate designation that focuses on the unique impacts made by different generations in establishing housing trends, financial products, negotiating skills and reaching a successful closing.