Has social media changed the face of the property industry?

In the age of instant information where technological advances occur almost on a daily basis, social media has changed the way that buyers and sellers interact and the way in which business is conducted within the real estate industry. This is according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“While the traditional real estate marketing methods are still very much alive in today’s market, the addition of social media and how it can be used to influence and interact with consumers has shifted agents towards a more holistic online approach,” says Goslett. “Estate agents are utilising online property search portals and social media as a key component to their property marketing strategy.  This is largely due to the fact that consumer behaviour has changed considerably over the last two decades, with 90% of property buyers first searching the internet before using any other form of media to look for a home. This is because it is both instantaneous and convenient - buyers are able to access an endless amount of information without having to leave the comfort of their homes.”

He notes that the old paradigm of publishers and editors as the only gatekeepers to the media kingdom has shifted as social media platforms have given the public a voice. Today the traditional media platforms only form a part of the media networks, with social media continually becoming a greater and greater influence over public opinion. This has not only impacted on business within the real estate industry, but many other sectors as well – consumers are listening to other consumers, and have the power to make an impact.

“Social media provides consumers, homebuyers, sellers and real estate professionals with the opportunity to share opinions, information or provide advice to those who seek it. It’s a way to communicate with a wide audience regarding an endless range of topics and ideas,” says Goslett. “This has resulted in estate agents being able to market property in a different way, however it has also resulted in a change as to how they approach and deal with buyers and sellers.”

He points out that because consumers now have information at their fingertips at all times, the relationship between real estate agents and their clients is no longer based on a trusted advisory capacity, but rather more as a guide and trusted resource. Today’s buyers and sellers want information from their agent that they can’t get elsewhere. The agent will need to be able to provide them with facts, figures, graphics and a comparative market analysis.

“Aside from supplying valuable information, an agent’s role would also include guiding buyers and sellers through the process of a property transaction and ensuring that they have the necessary details to make an informed decision. While it is the agent who will provide access to the information and knowledge to conclude a property transaction, it will be their client who decides how the information is used. The buyers and sellers that undertake to do their own research will normally consult with the resources they have on social online networks before they make a final decision,” says Goslett.

He adds that as social media platforms and their influence on the real estate market grows, the face of the industry will continue to evolve. “More than half of the users on Facebook are of home-buying age and with approximately 500 million users, it is a massive network of potential consumers who can change, shape and influence the market.  The social media phenomenon is here to stay, and consumers have the power to make themselves heard,” Goslett concludes.

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