Real estate: A tweet, then a sale

DETROIT — Joy Santiago stood in the living room of a one-bedroom condo she had listed for sale in Detroit, videotaping a 360- degree view to post on YouTube.

Santiago, broker/owner of Dwellings Unlimited in Farmington Hills, Mich., didn’t stop there. She created a Web site for the home, featured it on two Facebook pages, posted a tweet or two on Twitter and listed it on a slew of real estate sites, including Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow.

Like Santiago, more real estate agents are turning to social media to drive sales, featuring listings in their Facebook status updates. Others are marketing on 50 or more Web sites. They say Internet marketing — aside from being free — lets them tap into new audiences and sell more homes.

“There’s never too many sites. There’s no overkill — the more exposure, the better,” Santiago said.

Elyse Van Houzen, an agent for Re/Max Showcase Homes in Birmingham, Mich., said she’s sold several houses to old high school friends just from reconnecting with them on Facebook. She loves the site.

“It is free marketing. It is daily marketing,” Van Houzen said. “It is probably the best thing to happen to real estate agents.”

Social media is changing the way Realtors market and sell homes. It’s faster than cold calling and costs nothing to promote the latest listing through a status update on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter.

But sales from social-media contacts still represent a small portion of overall sales.

Take Mark Zawaideh. The agent with Keller Williams Realty in Novi, Mich., said he markets listings on as many as 150 Web sites including large search engines Google and Yahoo, local classified-ads site Craigslist, and real estate search engines Trulia, Zillow and HomeFinder. HomeFinder is on the Detroit Free Press’s website includes real estate listings and classified ads.

“I have one marketing manager and that’s all she does all day is post these homes on all these Web sites,” Zawaideh said. “And the results show. That’s how we sell 200 homes a year.”

He’s sold nine houses in the past year and a half to friends through Facebook alone.

Now, about 35 percent of Realtors actively use social or professional networking Web sites and 14 percent plan to begin integrating online marketing in their business, according to a survey of members by the National Association of Realtors.

Internet and social marketing have allowed Zawaideh to cut expenses on print advertising, which he dropped entirely this year. His office recently discontinued placing ads in Keller Williams’ monthly color magazine, saving $4,500 a month that it had spent over the past 11 years.

Karen Kage, president of multiple listing service Realcomp in Farmington Hills, said that many Realtors are just learning how to use social media tools to communicate with customers.

“It is another way to get information out by pushing it out instead of waiting for the customer to come looking for it,” she said. “The first-time homebuyers are so used to communicating using these kinds of tools. And that is why it is so important to understand it.”

The National Association of Realtors began offering a social-media course last summer.

Max Pigman, vice president at Realtor.com, who teaches social-media classes and shares tips on the Realtor.com Facebook page, said there are a lot of Realtors on Facebook, but a small percentage of them are actually making money from it.

He said that’s because a lot of them think they need to be on social-networking sites because everyone else is, but they aren’t creating a business strategy. That’s what he teaches them to do.

He encourages agents not to use Facebook just to talk about open houses and new listings.

“I have a friend who is a dentist and he doesn’t write, ‘I did another root canal,’ every day,” Pigman said. “You have to get strategic about what you are sharing.”

Instead, Pigman encourages agents to start conversations on Facebook about the state of the real estate market or even create neighborhood pages where they specialize that could come up in Google searches.

“It’s all about creating some sort of relevant information,” he said.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

With the Olympic mountains in the background, the first passenger flight by Alaska Airlines Flight 2878 departs for Portland on opening day of the Paine Field Terminal on Monday, March 4, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Alaska Airlines stalls plan for extra flights in Everett

Business has been sluggish, but the airline says it will offer 12 flights a day at Paine Field in the new year.

Mukilteo asks for input on housing density, and it’s complicated

Here’s a guide to what voters should know about the advisory ballot measure. What does it actually do?

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
Former Boeing test pilot pleads not guilty in 737 Max case

He’s the first person to be charged with a crime in connection with the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes.

People hold signs in protest of the vaccine mandate after Boeing announced it would terminate workers who do not comply on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Some Boeing workers protest in Everett over vaccine mandate

The Boeing Company announced earlier this week that its workers must be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

FILE - In this March 14, 2019 file photo, Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. Relatives of some of the passengers who died in the crash will mark the two-year anniversary of the disaster on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, by seeking a reversal of government orders that let Boeing 737 Max jets fly again.  (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)
Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

He’s accused of giving the FAA false information about systems that played a role in two deadly crashes.

Top (L-R): Kim Daughtry, Steve Ewing. Bottom (L-R): Gary Petershagen, Marcus Tageant.
Developers court Lake Stevens council incumbents with over $20K

Over half of the campaign dollars for four candidates came from people tied to real estate or property development.

Traffic drives in view of a massive Boeing Co. production plant, where images of jets decorate the hangar doors, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing says workers must get the COVID vaccine by Dec. 8

“Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment,” says an internal company presentation.

The Boeing 737 Max 10 airplane landing at Boeing Field in Seattle on June 18. (Chona Kasinger / Bloomberg)
Boeing ramps up 737 Max but 787 deliveries are still blocked

Boeing last month maintained its steady trickle of sales as it navigates the aviation downturn.

A handful of Northwest Union Carpenter members picket in front of the new Marysville civic center construction site on the sixth day of a region wide union carpenter strike on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Carpenters strike ends with new contract and a $10 raise

Roughly 500 union members were working on projects in Snohomish County. It was among the largest strikes in 18 years.

FILE - In this March 20, 2020, file photo, the Amazon campus outside the company headquarters in Seattle sits nearly deserted on an otherwise sunny and warm afternoon. Amazon said Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely, as long as they can commute to the office when necessary. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Amazon to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely

Although most cannot work remotely because their duties include grabbing orders and delivering them.

With new owners demanding the Grand Apartments' longtime residents leave, Stephen Teixeira, 52, documents issues at the Rockefeller Avenue building, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Life at the Grand Apartments in Everett is now a ‘nightmare’

Longtime residents say the new owner, an investment company, is trying to bully them out of the building.

Bob Martin, 80, owner of the The Stag Barber and Styling in Snohomish. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
$90,000 fine doesn’t stop defiant Snohomish barber

Bob Martin appealed a state penalty for ignoring coronavirus rules and lost. It has not cut into his business.