When we think of effective uses for social media in real estate, we often think of agents posting their listings or clients posting the homes they sell or buy. While these activities are useful celebrations or promotions, social media can also be used to learn about the parties in a transaction and also unknown property information.
So what you might infer from the above statement is that I am trying to encourage buyers, sellers, and agents to use social media as a means to spy on participants in a transaction. While some might think this is a bit creepy or intrusive, all information posted to the public is fair game. Most people do not realize they control whether posts go out to the public or among their circle of friends. Below are a few examples of how a social media outlet like Facebook has been used to discover unknown information about parties in a transaction.
- A few years ago, I had two competing offers on one of my listings. After doing a quick search for one of the buyers, I “stumbled “ across a picture of another home those same buyers had just gone under contract with posted on their Facebook page. After questioning the agent, she admitted her buyers had indeed submitted a backup offer to my clients in case their first offer was not accepted. After sharing this discovery with my clients, they decided to not accept the offer. This saved my clients home from being off the market for other potential buyers. I’m sure the potential buyers also learned why you should think twice before posting everything publicly on a social media outlet like Facebook.
- Last year, I had worked with a client on purchasing a home that was flipped. While we knew some of the basic property information, the sellers disclosure did not provide any specifics. After closing, my buyer decided on her own to search the listing agent on Facebook. She came across pictures of the agent and the owner repairing items on the home during the renovation or “flipping” process. My client read a caption under one of the pictures that stated, “I hope this money pit doesn’t give us any more unforeseen disasters.” She also discovered pictures of the agent performing work on the home in which she was not licensed to do. While the home was virtually problem free, these posts could have been a huge liability for the agent and gave my client some great insight on potential problems to look for.
- More recently, I received a lease application from someone looking to rent one of my listings. The applicant was not represented by an agent, so my client wanted to know more about this potential renter. Once again after searching on Facebook, my client found some videos of the applicant that were seen as less than flattering and offensive. While the applicant financially qualified, the behavior observed in the videos was too extreme for my client, and, therefore, the application was rejected.
While there are other examples to elaborate on, I felt these were some of the most relevant. Social media can be a great prescreening tool when used effectively. Make sure to be specific with who you are searching for as even the most unique names will produce several results. Verify you are evaluating the correct person and realize social media is an avenue where most people let their guard down. Look for tangible examples relevant to your transaction and not things such as political views that do not matter when purchasing, selling or renting your home. Finally, don’t feel bad, creepy or that you are invading someones privacy by researching them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media sites. If they are posting this information to the public, that means everyone.
For more information about buying or selling a home in the Houston area, please contact Houston Realtor Paul Silverman with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty .