Fine line found for Facebook engagement

Facebook has quickly become the marketing platform du jour for savvy real estate firms, with one punter already paying over $800,000 for an off-the-plan apartment site unseen except for a marketing campaign across the social media site.

A majority of communications behind the sale were conducted across Facebook, with the eventual purchase price of $810,000 settled for the three-bedroom apartment on the NSW central coast suburb of Terrigal.

General manager of Raine & Horne Terrigal Brett Hunter said this is his first property sale through Facebook, and a first for the region.

Mr Hunter said he is not surprised with his first property sale made through the agency’s Facebook page.

“The initial buyer enquiry came through Facebook, with questions answered by us via the social media platform’s chat facility … all preliminary information was sent to us through Facebook and that’s how we engaged the buyer,” Mr Hunter said.

“Meetings were booked, prices negotiated and a deal struck for a final purchase price of $810,000 through a mixture of online and offline negotiations … People choose an agent they trust and anything that can build that and develop a rapport that attracts both buyers and sellers is great – Facebook won’t replace building relationships in person but it can gain the initial trust.

“The platform has proven its worth in terms of allowing prospective sellers to use it to research a real estate business, and it's interesting to be able to use Facebook as a way to sell a property.”

Managing director of RE/MAX Western Australia Geoff Baldwin does not think Facebook is the best place for "flogging houses" since he believes people generally associate social media portals with entertainment. What he considers a great idea is to set up a page completely dedicated to the sale of a certain property and even employ a social media expert to push that page through as a promotion or advertisement.

“You have to be strategic in using your profile on social media because when people see you advertising properties it just turns them off, and if something grabs their interest it should be through an advertisement as a Facebook ad,” Mr Baldwin said.

“Providing something very strategic is a way to not make your fan base turn off because you are just advertising properties, and I block agents myself who do this… We have thought about managing our social media presence ourselves but decided to pay a marketing company to manage our Facebook promotions and they spend as much time telling us what not to do as what to do.

“We recently began selling an 18-villa development and 25 per cent of our sales came through Facebook.”

Social media expert Peter Brewer said gloating about a record price reached on Facebook does not do an estate agent justice. Nor is it a smart move or a good way to endear yourself to the community. Mr Brewer said fellow aqents may think you are a top seller but if it's not framed correctly, consumers may get the wrong impression.

“Many people see agents as a necessary evil, which is just a perception, but often an agent is seen as a person who comes along every five or seven years, clips a sale for commission and disappears saying thanks for the money, but it also offers the opportunity to see us involved in the local community and to illustrate that we care,” Mr Brewer said.

“Estate agents should use it as a place to make a friend today and do a deal later.

“Too many agencies see Facebook as just another free portal and are exuberant when they put a great deal together and tend to show their excitement through the forum. But when they post they need to think about what the consumer sees and posting about selling, say $300,000 above reserve, may be the sort of stuff that puts buyers off.”

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