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Social media plays greater part in homebuying process

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More homebuyers are using social media in the homebuying process, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR) “2014 Survey of California Home Buyers.”

More than three-fourths of homebuyers used social media in their home search, up from 52 percent in 2011. Buyers said they primarily used social media for buying tips and suggestions from friends (44 percent), neighborhood information (44 percent) and to view their agents’ Facebook pages (42 percent).

Leslie Kilpatrick, Greater San Diego Association of Realtors’ (SDAR) 2014 president, said Facebook is effective for real estate professionals because it’s a relationship-based business.

“It’s another way of relating to people and staying in touch with people,” Kilpatrick said.

Chris Anderson, SDAR’s 2014 president-elect and Realtor at Town & Country Realty Inc., said she has sold properties off Facebook.

She and Kilpatrick agreed that Facebook shouldn’t be used to list properties, but instead to show personality and lend credibility to the agent.

“I think if you’re your real self on social media and they’re just checking you out and getting to know you, it works well,” Kilpatrick said. “I think people who try to make a sales pitch on social media — it’s ineffective. And when I have a friend who really just posts their listings and things like that, I pretty much unfriend them, because it’s not interesting.”

Anderson doesn’t typically post her listings, but rather items about the lifestyle in Ramona, where she works.

“People want that and they come to me. I’m not doing it on purpose — I’m doing it because I love where I live,” Anderson said.

Once clients discover the “true you” and find mutual connections in their network, they might then want a real conversation, said Donald Coleman, vice president of real estate lending at USE Credit Union.

In addition to social media use, buyers used mobile technology and the Internet as tools in the homebuying process; 91 percent said they used a mobile device to access the Internet during the course of their home purchase, according to CAR.

Buyers also said they used their mobile devices to look for comparable home prices (78 percent), search for homes (45 percent) and take photos of neighborhoods, homes and amenities (43 percent). With the increased use of social media, fewer buyers Googled their agent (50 percent in 2014, down from 68 percent in 2013), turning to agents’ Facebook pages instead.

In another sign of recent market competitiveness, more than nine in 10 buyers (91 percent) made one or more other offer, with an average of 3.6 offers in 2014, up from three offers in 2013, according to CAR. Buyers viewed a median of 20 homes in 2014, up from 10 last year.

About half of the buyers were satisfied with their purchase in 2014, down from two-thirds (66 percent) in 2013. Nearly half (46 percent) of buyers felt they “settled” on their home purchase in 2014, up from 34 percent.

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