Social networking sites may be the next techno-evolution in real estate
Hunting for a house or condo is far from the arduous endeavor was in the good ol’ days before the Internet. Touring a list of houses could take hours —even days — only to find one or two that had some potential. Then sites like Realtor.com and those of real estate agencies and individual agents made searching for the next place to hang your hat an easy, even enjoyable process.
The evolution of how we use the Web is changing the game again. Apparently, social networking isn’t just for finding e-harmonious relationships or reading inane status updates on high school classmates that you only vaguely remember. No, social networking is now helping connect people to another true love of a lifetime: their next home.
Peruse Facebook and you’ll quickly find listings for high-rises and individual homes. Subscribe to real estate blogs on MySpace and you could find the crib of your dreams. In both cases, the inanimate piles of brick and plaster take on human characteristics to seduce you into making their address your address.
The Downtown high-rise Mosaic has its own MySpace page where you can discover interesting facts: The Mosaic is a swinger with an Aquarius zodiac sign; it’s looking for friends. (Awww, maybe someone can set up a blind date between the Mosaic and the South Side on Lamar. Think of the beautiful babies they’d make.)
Over on Facebook, The Beat Condos on Belleview describes its building with a little romance copy sure to make any home seeker at least a little high-curious. "I’m a 10-story high-rise with unbelievable views of the city. I have 75 units with a beautiful saltwater pool and spa, a lovely pergola, and barbecue stations made for weekend entertaining. I also have a fire pit which will keep you warm on those late fall and winter nights as you watch the city lights come alive!" it says.
Like the Mosaic, the Beat Condos is single, but only looking for friendship. Perhaps you might be the one it takes home to meet Mom and Dad Beat Condo. (With all the home hookups happening on Facebook and MySpace, is Manhunt far behind? "Into: Kissing, nipple play, and a three-car garage. Fixed rate mortgage. No femmes.")
Yet wherever these homes eventually get posted, the trend seems to be working. Local Realtors Bob McCranie and Todd Elkins have tried it and so far, like it.
From YouTube videos to Facebook pages, the virtual sky is the limit when finding new ways to market homes and condos. Applications within Facebook are popping up, such as Cribfinder and Real Estate 2.0, which both making posting even easier and more concentrated.
Elkins, a partner with Master Realtors, says that social networking has been a very positive experience when it comes to selling homes.
"Social networking allows your network to drop your name when buying or selling a home," he says, "although you must be careful with whom you connect as you do not want your client base exposed to competitors."
Elkins adds that it’s even more about who you know these days: "Although an agent may have many years of valuable experience, it is often times overlooked. A Realtor in the social network can get the job."
Experienced professionals bring together their knowledge and the exposure that is necessary to reach people in the networking environment. McCranie, a broker with William Davis Realty, notes that no matter how you utilize it, the Internet is now essential in staying competitive.
"Agents must have strong Internet marketing skills to get their listing out in front of buyers. It has become an absolute necessity," he says.
For McCranie, social networking sites are just a part of his overall marketing mix.
"Advertising is about exposure. Get your message out," he says."I start with the visual elements, like pictures, tours and videos, posting them on sites that host those items. Then I post those sites in blogs and posts in social networking sites so there’s exposure on all levels."
As for the "social" aspect of sites like Facebook, McCranie believes having a page on there allows people to get to know him before even meeting him, a task as important in finding a compatible match, whether you’re talking about a first date or, in this case, a Realtor you’re trusting to help you make one of the most important decisions in your life.
Social networking may be a hot real estate trend right now, but McCranie has his pulse on the next wave of technology-based house hunting.
"Paper flyers will eventually be replaced by text messages. Users will be able to use their Twitter pages to find the listing agent and work out a showing time," he says. "In five years these ideas could be common place."
If the homes themselves keep pace with the way they’re being sold, could an automated house like that of the Jetsons be far behind?
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice Defining Homes magazine March 6, 2009.