Twitter Your House and Friend a Realtor on Facebook
Online social networks offer new ways to find agents, buyers and sellers.
When Kari Sullivan was looking for a real estate agent, she did what a lot of homeowners appear to be doing: She found one through a social networking site.
She considered using Twitter, the popular social networking and microblogging service, but Sullivan, 32 and extremely Internet savvy (she co-owns a business called Blogthings.com with her husband), decided to actively look for an agent on LiveJournal.com, where she had been a member, mostly to trade vegetarian recipes. At the LiveJournal online community for Austin, Texas, she asked the members if there was a real estate agent among them.
And soon, one came a-calling. Er, emailing.
Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. At this point, these names are burned and branded into the consciousness of many Americans -- even those who don’t use these social networking hubs. But while another article on the topic may seem redundant, if you think about it, these Web sites feel like made-to-order tools for the real estate market. After all, buying and selling a home has always been about who you know, or who your Realtor knows, and whether you’re connected enough to find people who aren’t necessarily daunted by the thought of piling all of their belongings in a moving van. And what connects people more these days than a social online network?
In an era where you can easily find a friend of a friend of a friend, or link up with a perfect stranger online to bond over the varying ways to make vegetarian lasagna -- well, Realtors, homeowners and buyers are starting to see the value in a Web site that allows you to network -- and network quickly.
An Instant Real Estate Community
It’s not just about finding a Realtor or even asking around to locate a buyer. These social networking sites are being used for just about every purpose imaginable in real estate. Wander through the search engine of Twitter by typing in “real estate,” and you’ll suddenly see a cross-section of home buying and selling conversations across the country.
In a recent 24-hour stretch, for instance, some of the snatches of dialogue that appeared on Twitter included:
- Someone with the handle, Legreen93, put out there to the 981 people “following” her: “If anyone is looking to get a house in Vegas, there’s a really great house in my neighborhood going for a song. Just DM me. (Not a Realtor.)"
- JAS13 wrote “looking for a good Realtor to represent me in short sales.”
- Sometimes people, like Kori_Brown, just want to share their news. “Buying a house today!!” And JackThomas wrote at the same time, “Just talked with a Realtor about buying a house. ... Things are rolling and we will be home owners this summer! Hallelujah!”
- Many savvy Realtors are using Twitter as an effective marketing tool. KLDubya wrote her 18 followers, “If you are in Chicago and looking for a condo, I am a Realtor with Sudler Sotheby’s. Available $115,000 in Chatham 2br/1 ba.” And MichelleBuckman, a Realtor in Washington, D.C., informed her 126 followers, “I have a new listing -- a great fixer upper in Chevy Chase, DC. Some minor repairs are being made. It will be on the market mid-April.”
- A woman in Reno, Nevada, with just a few followers, shared with another Twitter friend, “We may be buying a house, but right now, it looks like probably not. I have to call my credit advisors & see if I can apply.” Less than an hour later, she informed her friend, “Good news, my credit advisors said I CAN apply, and that my credit score is 200 points up from where it started.”
- Another woman named Ruthns13 twittered to her followers: “Selling my house anyone want to buy email me.” (Considering she has five people following her, good luck with that.)
And on and on, it goes. The Real Estate Web List Network has their own Twitter group, and online social networking and real estate are intertwining so quickly that, not too surprisingly, Web sites have been set up to help Realtors sell homes using the Internet, like MyTechopinion.com, which has the tagline “technology for real estate.” And, of course, there are numerous real estate groups on Facebook, mostly set up by Realtors -- either for real estate specialists to converge and discuss ways to do their jobs better -- but also to identify and help first time home buyers.
Real Estate Among Friends
Facebook is how Chuck Gullett, based out of Chicago, landed a couple clients and is currently looking for a house for them. Some friends on Facebook noticed one of their friends grumbling online that he was frustrated by the experience of looking for a home. And so upon being told this, Gullett shot over an email to the frustrated Facebooker and soon had a new client.
That’s happened a couple times now, says Gullett, who says that in each case, the person was a little surprised to hear from him, but they quickly come to realize that it’s natural for a Realtor to reach out if they can. “You already know they have a need since they posted it for the world to see, and it’s just natural to offer help,” says Gullett, who for now isn’t giving up on traditional real estate advertising, but likes what he sees.
“In five years, these tools may evolve into a preferred marketing and communication channel,” says Gullett, “but today, they’re a novel and fun way to making contact and following up with clients.”
Having fun seems to be part of the success of looking for a house to buy or sell through Twitter, Facebook and the rest. Before trying to find a Realtor on LiveJournal, Sullivan had considered actively looking for a Realtor on Twitter -- which she uses frequently -- but says, “I thought the Realtors on Twitter were way too marketing focused.”
Sullivan wanted to find a Realtor who remembers the social part of social networking. “We spent a lot of time with our Realtor,” she says, “and since she was around our age with similar interests, it made it a lot more enjoyable.” Her advice to homebuyers and sellers, which could also be a useful tip to real estate agents: “I’d shy away from someone who is using Twitter or Facebook only to promote themselves and not really to connect with people. In my opinion, these 'professional marketers' are only out for the commission and not for establishing a long term relationship. You can tell a lot about a person by how they act on a social networking service.”