There’s always something to howl about

It’s 4:15 pm. Do you know where your Realtor is? A consumer’s guide to using social media to supervise your goof-off employee.

Your mortgage lender just called. The appraiser is standing outside the home you’re hoping to buy, but there is no key in the lockbox. The lender called you so that you could call your Realtor. Your Realtor in turn can call the listing agent, and then someone can get over to the house — pronto! — to let the appraiser in.

There’s just one problem: You can’t seem to get your Realtor on the phone.

Stuff happens. Your Realtor could be tied up with another client or stuck in traffic in a cell-phone dead zone. Heaven forbid, he might have been in a car accident.

But… There is another possibility…

Do you remember when you first made contact with your Realtor? Do you recall him telling you all about how hi-tech his business is, detailing his presence on all the biggest social media sites?

So: If you’re not getting your calls to your Realtor returned, where might be a good place to look for him?

How about Twitter, for a start? How about Facebook? Foursquare? Tumblr? Posterous? You might have to look in a few places, but there are only two kinds of hi-tech Realtors: The kind who work a lot and the kind who play a lot.

How can you tell if your Realtor is the kind who plays a lot? It’s easy. He’ll be leaving tracks all over the place, Retweeting jokes and commenting on Facebook photos and writing detailed reviews of burger joints and doing — and documenting — just about any activity on the face of the earth — except attending to your real estate transaction.

Here’s the sad part: Even if you’re seeing dozens of Tweets and Facebook comments from your Realtor, you’re probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg. You’re not seeing the direct Twitter posts or the private conversations being carried out on Facebook or in email.

But: If your Realtor seems to be wasting his entire day on social media sites, there’s a reason for that:

It’s because he’s wasting his entire day on social media sites.

I’ve tried pointing out to Realtors that schmoozing on Twitter or Facebook is bad marketing, so far to no avail:

I say that trying to sell real estate via Twitter/Facebook is a waste of time — and it is anti-marketing even if it seems to produce some results. Why? Because the bulk of your chatter is going to look like… chatter. Your clients might like it when you schmooze with them, but your public schmoozing with every other time-wasting Realtor and vendor in the is going to look to your clients like just what it is: Time-wasting laziness.

Here’s the good news: You have the power to do something about this. Once you’ve discovered that your Realtor is ignoring your needs in order to goof-off online, put him on notice: “You will either service my transaction or I will fire you with dispatch.” You’re the boss. Act like it.

Even better, when you’re shopping for a Realtor, shop his or her online presence. Is your prospective Realtor a big-time Twitter kibitzer? This will come back to bite you in the butt. Is she an all-day Facebook schmoozer? Be prepared to handle your own transaction; your Realtor has another job she likes better than the one you’re offering her.

Why can’t you get your Realtor on the phone? Why don’t your repair issues get dealt with? Why is your lender calling the title company for you? Why is there an appraiser stranded outside your new home?

Part your problem is that you have a lazy Realtor.

The other part is that you have been a lax supervisor.

Whether your are a home seller or a buyer, you’re paying a lot of money for real estate representation. If you’re not getting it, you must either demand better performance immediately or take your business elsewhere.

The beautiful thing about capitalism is that you can always put the bums out of work. That’ll give them something to chat about online…


18 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds and Tom Hunter, My REALTY. My REALTY said: It’s 4:15 pm. Do you know where your Realtor is? A consumer’s guide to using social media the supervise your goo… […]

  2. Brian Brady November 6th, 2010 6:41 pm

    Ouch. You just detailed the bad experience I created for myself.

  3. Greg Swann November 6th, 2010 6:48 pm

    > You just detailed the bad experience I created for myself.

    There are a couple of people here who send me private communiques through Facebook. I would prefer email, frankly, not alone because I don’t know the FB user interface and don’t want to learn it. But it’s always an eye-opener to me, when I go there, to see how many people I know are on Facebook at all hours of the day and night. I understand that what I’m seeing could just be an open window, with no on-going activity. But if I had a deal going with one of them, and if something wasn’t happening quickly enough for me, I would find it very easy surmise that Facebookery was taking precedence over my transaction.

    Marketing is what you communicate, not what you say. Marketing is the message you are actually conveying — regardless of what you might think you are saying.

  4. Broker Bryant November 7th, 2010 6:38 am

    Actually I don’t see the connection. I’m on the internet all day long and can be reached all day via phone. Although almost all of customer/clients know to communicate with me via email or text message. Some prefer to communicate via Facebook.

    I have agents that work for me that are the ones out showing properties all day long. My time is spent online and some of that does include time on Facebook and other social sites. I’m on those sites mostly while on hold with lenders since I negotiate short sales for a living.

    Not all agents that spend time on social media are wasting time. Just as all agents that are showing houses all day long are doing deals.

    Your post is implying that the agent hasn’t kept in touch with their client because they are spending too much time on social media. Maybe they aren’t staying in touch because they suck.

    Personally I think you are boxing yourself by being so negative on social media tools. If you are not using FB to generate business then you are missing out on some good business. 500 million people can’t be wrong. Can they?

    Have you tried using FB ads? Are you “friending” your buyers and sellers so they can stay in touch with you?

    Have you searched Twitter to find the conversations going on in your neighborhood?

    There are many ways to do real estate. My choice is to automate as much as I can and conduct my business almost 100% virtually and to handle communications almost 100% online be it by email or social media. My phone rarely rings yet some how I’ll manage to close plenty of transactions.

    I work mostly with sellers but do do a dozen or so buyer deals every year. All of these are done online sight unseen.

    I went on only 3 listing appointments this year and haven’t attended a closing in about 2 years. And still my customer/clients are raving fans.

    Riding around showing houses all day and talking on the phone is not for me. I’ve evolved beyond that. And if potential buyers and sellers don’t like that then they are free to use another broker.

  5. Greg Swann November 7th, 2010 9:20 am

    Broker Bryant: I love everything you’re doing, with one exception: I don’t want to change the subject of this discussion. I’m very happy for your success, but my objective is to help people who are starving understand why they are starving.

  6. Mark Madsen November 7th, 2010 12:11 pm

    On the flip side, I don’t want my clients or transaction partners to think that I am available on social media.

    I’ve received a few FB and Twitter messages from people looking for immediate responses on important topics, and I didn’t get back to them for several days simply because I wasn’t glued to my social streams.

    This was one of the main reasons I canceled my LinkedIn acct a month ago. The last thing I want to do is set the expectation that I’ll be available 24 hours a day for anyone.

    Email works best, and I’ve even started cleaning up my contact points online so that people fill out a detailed form that sends me a direct IM depending on which box they click.

    However, is someone’s business revolves around their online social connections and activity, then they should probably be prepared to be on call 24/7. That’s too much pressure for me, especially with new twins and a family that I enjoy being around more than my clients.

  7. Faux Tin Metal Ceiling Tiles November 8th, 2010 10:14 am

    a real estate investing carnival – November 8, 2010…

    Welcome to the November 8, 2010 edition of a real estate investing carnival. David de Souza presents What Everybody Ought To Know About Capital Gains Tax posted at UK Tax Blog, saying, “Guide to what Capital Gains Tax is and how it works” r…

  8. Al Lorenz November 8th, 2010 2:12 pm

    Greg, I was grinning from ear to ear at this post! It comes under the umbrella of unintended consequences of social media.

    Once again, you ask the questions to help us examine how we run our businesses.

  9. Barry Bevis November 9th, 2010 5:58 am

    I should tweet this and post it on Facebook but I’m resisting.

    I understand what your saying but I think its a generational thing. And its about meeting people where they are.

    My younger clients use Facebook messaging at least as much as Email. Two days ago, while I was writing an offer for him, a 20’s client was tweeting about it and asked if I had an account. I do now.

    In the last six months a large number of my older clients are getting connected. They may be dragged in by their kids or grandchildren but they are sticking.

    I could also hit you with some numbers- Over the last year I can track back a lot of transactions to FB connections and conversations. But we will focus on the question at hand.

    Can I be me and “play on facbook” and still answer my phone- YES.


  10. […] Greg Swann is right about the TwitBook time-wasting fad among real estate professionals. It is nothing short of a perfectly-rusted irony that people are bitching about me behind my back by wasting their time on TwitBook. […]

  11. Rebecca Williamson November 10th, 2010 9:51 am

    This brings up a great point. Realtors need to remember their primary job is real estate. Social media can be a great tool to keep up with past clients and possible referrals, but only after you’ve taken care of your current clients.

  12. Ryan November 11th, 2010 2:09 pm

    If only most of the clients we deal with were as tech savvy, or the office manager, then there’d be a lot less agents in my office!

  13. Teresa Boardman November 12th, 2010 6:37 am

    Nah your Realtor is writing 2000 word posts to other Realtors.

  14. Greg Swann November 12th, 2010 6:58 am

    > Nah your Realtor is writing 2000 word posts to other Realtors.

    The fallacy ad hominem repeated yet again. As always, even if one stipulates a logical fallacy, this does zero damage to the argument allegedly being disputed: Greg Swann is a hypocrite, therefore he’s wrong. Does not follow.

    Inlookers: This post is potent, and the farther it spreads, the more powerful its impact. It got splogged yesterday by a vendorslut email newsletter, which is funny. Meanwhile, feel free to echo it — with attribution, of course — on your own sites. It wasn’t written as a marketing piece, but, because it teaches consumers how to shop for better representation, it will teach them how to shop for you — assuming you deliver the goods.

  15. Beth Jaworski November 12th, 2010 8:55 am

    I really find this post ridiculous. I have an iPhone, which allows me to hop on Facebook & keep up with people, pages, & issues instantly & easily, usually while killing time waiting in line, for a buyer to arrive for a showing, etc. I also go on my laptop at night for an hour or so and am on Facebook, for fun mainly, as I rarely watch tv. While I am on Facebook, if a buyer or seller calls or texts me, it comes right thru & “interrupts” Facebook on the iphone. If I am on my laptop, i simply grab my iphone & either answer, text back, or respond to the clien’t incomjng email. I am able to answer or respond immediately. I close around 40 transactions a year & this year am right on track for that – 33 closed & 7 pending as of today. I have been on Facebook for 2 years now & actually had my best year last year – 49 transactions closed. I cannot tell you how many people Facebook has reconnected me with, who now send me business! Do not get your connection at all – being on Facebook has no correlation with doing business or not, or with responding to your clients or not.

  16. Andrew Gouty November 12th, 2010 12:41 pm

    I agree with Beth and a few others here. I’ll even go so far to say that some social media can be a PRODUCTIVITY tool when needing to find information, find people, and find them quickly.

    Greg as you suggest in your post, maybe if your realtor is unavailable, maybe you should hit them up via their social accounts (but I would argue that sort of dirty-laundry-airing doesn’t look good for anyone, especially the one who is whipping the sheets).

    Another example – this week I’ve been needing to hire a film student to do some Work at Posting a flyer at the unversity, and a craiglist post have attracted no one (it’s a paid gig for a student). 2 minutes ago I put out a Twitter post and I guarantee that I’ll get responses from it (from people who don’t know me).

    Your post details the effects of an “all day twitter schmoozer” but I ask, would you also condemn the agent that uses the same tool to identify relocation prospects for his clients?

    Personally I’d be wary of condemning a gift-horse of a tool altogether. I don’t blame you for calling realtors on their time wasting and client-dodging habits though. I think that’s the real issue here, and technology can only accentuate a troublesome realtor.

  17. Teri Lussier November 16th, 2010 5:36 am

    >Nah your Realtor is writing 2000 word posts to other Realtors.

    I confess I thought that was funny as a one-liner, but, even aside from the fallacy ad hominem whateverwhatever… It’s untrue.

    If you read back through Real Estate Weblogging 101 (it’s the little link on the sidebar, bottom of the page) you can read at least once where Greg clearly advises that blogging should not replace prospecting or marketing for business creation, and that you should be blogging only when you have no other more effective work to do. Greg was also a blogging mentor to me, so if you are wondering about my experience, I’ll tell you that I spent considerable time not following his sage advice and have the bank statement to prove it.

    More sage advice:

    “I say that trying to sell real estate via Twitter/Facebook is a waste of time — and it is anti-marketing even if it seems to produce some results. Why? Because the bulk of your chatter is going to look like… chatter. Your clients might like it when you schmooze with them, but your public schmoozing with every other time-wasting Realtor and vendor in the is going to look to your clients like just what it is: Time-wasting laziness.”

    If this is not true to the one or two or four of the twitter followers who decide to hire you, don’t lie to yourself thinking your other 1,873 twitter followers aren’t thinking it. They are either on twitter for the sole purpose of wasting their own or their employer’s time (whether they admit it or not is beside the point) or they are on twitter to sell you something. Either way, they assume you are there for the same reason which means you are talking to people who are nice to you because they want your business *ahem* or you are talking to people who assume you are wasting your time just like them. In the end, no good can come of it.

  18. […] Greg Swann is dead wrong: […]