Make Facebook Your Friend When Buying a House

An image of social networking site FacebookLooking at listings from the comfort of your Facebook account can be pretty convenient when house hunting, especially when you've befriended several brokers and added them to your social network.

Following brokers on Twitter to find out about the latest properties in a hash-tagged region, and their sweet amenities that you exclusively desire, can be a time-saving aggregator for potential buyers. With so many third-party resources cluing the public in on what is available within the housing market, opting to DIY means there's opportunities to buy and sell on all sorts of mediums.

But are social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter the best ways to acquire and unload real estate? According to Inman News, "There's a difference between embracing social networking and squeezing it to death.

HousingWatch spoke to several brokers to determine the dos and don'ts of using social media when buying or selling a house:

1. Use social networking sites to research real estate agents.
"Check out their personal Facebook page, their Facebook fan page, and search Twitter to see what they tweet about," says David Lampe, a Denver-based broker.

2. Use your social network of contacts to get the word out. Ask for recommendations of a good real estate agents and vet the ones you have recently met. Your social networking circle is good for alerting everyone, or specific people, that you are interested in buying, selling or renting. "They may know someone selling a great home, someone who has a home for rent or someone who may want to buy your home," says Lampe.

3. Consider agents who have blogs that post newsworthy and industry-related information about the housing market and neighborhoods that interest you.
Stay away from Realtors whose listings bombard your Facebook newsfeed. "There is a free tool that Realtor.com offers to Realtors that allows you to post the listings to your profile [so] they don't show up in the newsfeed," says Adrienne Lally, a Honolulu-based Re/Max Realtor.

4. Look for brokers that use their social media accounts to educate consumers vs. just self-promote. "You want someone who is knowledgeable about market analysis," says Seth Levin, a New York Prudential Douglas Elliman broker. "You want someone who is discrete, respectful of their client's privacy, and doesn't unprofessionally make their closing public." Adds Lally: "I share some of my personal life to show I am a person, too. [I also post] pictures of my happy clients on closing day and tag them in the photo, thanking them for their business and congratulating them on their new home."

5. Don't believe everything you read on social networking sites. There is a lot of incorrect and old information online. Due diligence is paramount. If you're DIYing it, look at more than one site. Zillow, Trulia, and Property Shark are great sites when coupled together. "People do a lot of StreetEasy to understand the market and properties these days," says Frances Katzen, a New York Prudential Douglas Elliman broker. "Streeteasy is not always accurate. When you go with third parties, the information isn't going to be accurate or up to date, and you end up wasting your time having to accept this once the first party source tells you the reality. You can trust our own sites and the information we put up."

6. Don't fall for the quick-fix schemes.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "Stay away from the 'we'll buy your home fast'- and 'we'll flip your home'-type people," says Sintia Petrosian, a Long and Foster Realtor in Washington, D.C. "Those even exchanges, offers to swap houses, short sales are all bogus. They lure you in and then sell your info to agents that buy leads."

7. Don't post anything on your social media networks that you wouldn't want your boss to see. Don't forget that your co-op board or landlord may do research about you on social networking sites. Don't post anything publicly that may turn a decision-maker off. Remember, that if "friends of friends" can view your information, this could include a decision-maker. "What happens on the Internet does not stay on the Internet," says Sandy Edry, a broker at CitiHabitats in New York City. "Realize that co-op boards and, maybe soon, mortgage banks will be checking your Facebook page and online personals. Finding drunk vacation pictures on your social networks could bite you on the ass."


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