The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Five ways to use social media to help sell your home

(Washington Post illustration of BigStockPhoto and iStockphoto)

To most sellers and their agents, using social media means sharing their property website or Zillow link with their friends and family. Unless it is shared among thousands of friends or goes viral, this will only go as far as their limited sphere of influence.

Only a decade ago, real estate agents had all the influence to show the homes they wanted buyers to see. Upon the arrival of Zillow, and other third party websites, buyers suddenly started finding homes on their own and a big portion of the job of a  buyer’s agent was done for them. Sellers now need to look for more innovative ways to set their homes apart from the competition.

This can be done easily with social media. Here are five ways sellers (and their agents) can use social media to sell their home faster and for more money:

• Targeted demographics: You’ll want to ensure the agent you choose has a current Facebook business page, as they’ll need the page to run any form of advertising. Facebook and Instagram use third-party data companies to know who is likely to move. It’s like when you’re shopping for something on Amazon. If you browse a specific product, but don’t buy it, at some point when you go back to Facebook there will be an ad reminding you that you forgot to purchase it. These are your Internet browsing cookies at work.

Tomorrow’s smart homes call for integrating technology into the dwelling, not adding it on

Facebook knows that a buyer is likely to move based on their Internet browsing activity. Facebook also knows their household income so your agent can show your property ad to likely-to-move buyers who earn enough to qualify for a mortgage.

• Video: Pictures are often not enough to stand out on social media. Full video tours will get your home in front of the most buyers, for the least price. Google owns YouTube, and Facebook wants to compete for your attention with video. This will be the most cost-efficient way to get your home in front of thousands of buyers.

Your agent can also use Facebook Live from your open house and immediately turn that live video into a targeted advertisement. Buyers will watch because they assume a live video is being streamed by a friend or family. Ensure your agent has a full property tour on your single property website with a Facebook ad no more than 60 seconds. This will ensure it will be advertised on both Facebook and Instagram for the same price.

• Coming soon: The traditional way real estate agents sell homes is to place your property live in the multiple-listing service (MLS) during the week and typically host your first open house that weekend. This gives buyers little time to plan and see the home. A seller’s best strategy would be to place a home on Facebook, Instagram and Zillow  as “coming soon,” but not in the MLS. This gives the seller the most leverage in a crowded sellers market.

Many buyers have already been outbid on multiple properties and are searching specifically for “coming soon” homes so they can get a head start before other interested parties. This gives the seller more leverage from low offers because you are not even live in the MLS yet. In the Washington area, agents are restricted with MLS coming soon from showing or accepting offers premarket, but not with Zillow and Facebook.

Builders imagine homes of the future — but some of their dreams are available today

It also gives the seller and their agent an opportunity to test the price before chasing their tail with price reductions in the MLS.  You wouldn’t release a movie without a full marketing plan and trailer would you? The general rule is homes priced $200,000 to $500,000 should be listed one week as coming soon with full photography and video. Homes $500,000 to $999,000 need one to two weeks of coming soon. Homes $1 million and more need at minimum two weeks.

My research has shown that homes with 30 saved Zillow shoppers in “coming soon” status typically sell within two weeks. Forty or more saved shoppers typically will receive multiple offers. Anything less than 25 saved shoppers after the first week of coming soon, full photos and no showing requests should consider adjusting the price before going live.

• Open houses: Every open house should have a Facebook and Instagram ad running for a week in advance to woo likely-to-move buyers. Many agents are arriving to the house early and using Facebook Live before the event. The agent can then take the Live video and create a hyperlocal targeted ad to increase the attendance and more eyes on your property. Everyone who has clicked on your home’s ad can then be re-targeted to invite to future open houses or notified of any updates and price changes.

• Pixels: A Facebook pixel is a code installed in all of a seller’s property ads and single property websites. This will allow your listing agent to re-target anyone who views a photo or video ad, even if they don’t click on your website or take any action related to the ad. This would be the most cost effective way to build a database of possible interested buyers both during the coming soon period and when the home is live in the MLS.

Dustin Fox is a real estate agent with Pearson Smith Realty in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. He can be reached at