Web is another way to promote facilities For owners of seniors-living properties who are frustrated with the effort and expense of winning over new residents, the Internet may provide a welcome solution. That's because in recent years, Websites like Senior Housing Net (www.seniorhousing.net), careguide.com, newlifestyles.com and senioralternatives (www.senioralternatives.com) have popped up.

These sites offer potential residents and their families the chance to gather detailed information about certain seniors-living communities and to see photographs of the properties. And they allow property owners to bypass the traditional - and often expensive - ways of promoting their sites: radio, television, newspapers and brochures. According to statistics that Senior Housing Net gathered from the Appraisal Journal, the cost of winning a new resident to a seniors-housing facility starts at $1,500 and goes upward from there.

The company has gathered other information that demonstrates the advertising potential of the Internet. According to the newspaper Florida Today, a study by Cyber Dialogue, a New York market research firm, shows that 14.2 million people aged 50 or older used the Internet in July 1999, a near 100% increase from the 7.5 million seniors in January 1998. Also, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the percentage of personal computer owners aged 65 or older increased from 8.8% in 1990 to 28% in 1999. And, according to ComputerWorld, 68% of online buyers are more than 40 years old, an important statistic considering that the adult children of seniors are so often involved in the housing-decision process.

Keith Louie, product manager for Senior Housing Net, which has an online directory of more than 30,000 seniors-housing communities in 1,500 North American cities, adds that the Internet has the advantage of providing anytime access to potential customers. "Our site can be accessed by people seven days a week, 24 hours a day," he says. Also, the detailed information available to site users produces "very qualified leads," Louie adds.

With Internet technology changing the way consumers of all products shop, it's important for the seniors-housing industry to keep pace. These online services provide one way to do that. Property owners who are interested in advertising on the sites can find contact information at the web addresses.