According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, 91 percent of Realtors use social media — Facebook was the most commonly used platform, followed by LinkedIn. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they use social media to build relationships and network, while 64 percent said they use it for marketing and generating leads.

“Social media is very important in today’s real estate industry,” says Carla Umlauf, a highly rated Realtor in Austin, Texas. “Real Estate is a sales industry, and the more exposure a listing receives, the better the odds of it selling. The last four transactions I’ve closed have originated through social media streams.”

Has social media completely changed the industry?

Not yet, but it’s headed in that direction. “I think social media is another tool that agents can use to increase visibility and prospecting, but that it should be used primarily for what it’s intended — socializing!” says highly rated broker Margaret Vestal with Re/Max in Asheville, North Carolina. “The focus is still on real estate sites like Trulia, REALTOR®, and Zillow.”


While not every Realtor or real estate agent engages in social media, there’s no doubt it’s impacted the industry. “The biggest paradigm shift is the empowerment of consumers with ‘right now’ information,” says Mark Finchem, a highly rated associate broker in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Umlauf agrees and says she’s altered her marketing strategies, such as eliminating snail mail to save paper and money, in order to incorporate social media. “It enables a faster response time and another platform to share information that can be much more attractive and approachable than a traditional e-mail,” she says.

Highly rated real estate broker Kelly DeBrosse in Raleigh, North Carolina, admits she doesn’t use social media very often, but says it can make or break an agent’s reputation. “The good, the bad, and the ugly — it all gets posted,” she says. “I think any way you can stay at top of mind with past clients is an asset, but there’s a fine balancing act.”

How can social media hurt me?

For some, an hourly Tweet or Facebook post comes as naturally as breathing. If that’s you, tread cautiously when it comes to real estate. Vestal tells the tale of her clients who put an offer on a house, and then Googled the sellers.

“The seller had just tweeted, ‘we just got a great offer on our house,’” she says. “Needless to say, my buyers held at their original offer in negotiations. Putting information out there that’s detrimental to your transaction isn’t good.”

The instantaneous nature of social media also adds a layer of responsibility for Realtors promoting a property. Umlauf stresses the importance of agents proofreading posts and using good photos to not compromise a client’s position or misrepresent a property.

“Privacy is another consideration,” she says. “I always obtain permission from my client before posting a photo to social media. Most clients are happy to have me post a photo of them at the signing table, but real estate can also be a private matter and we need to be respectful.”

In the end, Finchem says homeowners should be wary of any real estate agent who claims to be able to sell or buy a home strictly through social media.

“It’s unrealistic,” he says. “Social media is more like a single brick in the house of brand building. When social media is a component in an overall strategy to increase search ability results for an agent or a property, everyone wins. Keeping everyone’s expectations realistic is the real challenge.”


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