You’re touring a Boston Beacon Hill condo and you fall in love with it, but you’re not sure about the kitchen setup. Your Beacon Hill real estate agent is telling you that you need to get your offer in ASAP. Do you reach for you phone, take a few pictures, and ask your friends what they think?

How about this one — You’re selling a Boston Beacon Hill home and you think the appraiser has made an unfair call about the roof deck Just because it needs a few small repairs, it’s actually taken away from the value of the home instead of adding to it. Do you send out a tweet to find out if anyone else is outraged?

Boston Real estate publications are full of information about how the internet is a boon for downtown Boston condo buyers and sellers, but what about social media? In my experience as a Boston condo sales and rental agent, it can both help and hurt. Read on to find my tips for navigating the murky waters of social media and the Boston condo for sales market

Get the advice you need, not the advice you don’t.

Something about real estate has the effect of bringing social media advice-givers out of the woodwork. My advice? Keep your requests for help very specific, and don’t involve your social media friends on the big decisions.

Keep in mind, real estate laws change from state to state! Just because someone says so online or you looked it up on Google, does not make it true in Boston, Massachusetts. Not only do important real estate laws change from state to state, but also real estate industry practices change dramatically. What is considered standard practice here is not the same elsewhere. This is why it is important to rely on your local professional, be it real estate agent, inspector, title officer, or attorney.

On the other hand, there are certain questions that can be crowd-sourced to your advantage. Try these:

  • I’m thinking of moving to X neighborhood. Has anyone ever owned a home there? How good is the local community involvement?
  • My kids are having a hard time adjusting to the idea that we’re going to live somewhere else. How do I help them transition?
  • What can I do with this kitchen?
  • Be prepared to ignore your Aunt when she writes you her story about buying a ranch in Colorado in the 1970s. Some people love to give advice so much that they’ll offer it even when it’s not requested! Each real estate transaction is different and it’s rare that any one person’s experience will apply to yours. Still, their stories may provide the unexpected benefit of simply distracting you.

Harness the Power of Distraction

The most helpful things on social media probably have nothing to do with buying or selling Boston Beacon Hill real estate, and friends who have never even been to Boston can be your best allies! Why?
Let’s take Facebook, the empire of the irrelevant, the humorous, and the purely pointless. You might have been racking your brain on how to decide between two great offers on your Boston condo for sale, but as soon as you log in, the videos of your friends’ cute animals, the games you’re obsessed with, and the latest news all have the effect of taking your brain to a land far, far away. In the meantime, your unconscious brain is still working away at the problem, and can actually solve it while you’re distracted!

Science Agrees

In a study reported on by Psychology Today, three groups of people were given a complex decision to make about buying a vehicle. According to “Your Brain At Work” blogger David Rock,

“One group had to choose immediately. These people didn’t do great at optimizing their decision. A second group had time to try to consciously solve the problem. Their choices weren’t much better. A third group were given the problem, then given a distracter task – something that lightly held their conscious attention but allowed their non-conscious to keep working. This group did significantly better than the other groups at selecting the optimum car for their overall needs.”

This isn’t an indication that you should go social-media crazy. You still have to be present to go over options, listen to the opinions of your real estate agent, spouse, financial advisor, and others close to you (with whom you have a relationship beyond Facebook!). But don’t feel guilty if you feel the need to escape here and there.

Follow Real Estate Agents Online

Any Boston real estate agent who cares about marketing will have a public social media profile these days. If they don’t, that should be your first red flag! Here are some other things to look for, especially if you are listing a home.

  • Is the real estate agent knowledgeable and current with local industry news and practices?
  • Do they have a lot of volatile posts or is their social media presence professional and focused?
  • What is their response time? Most real estate agents these days should be checking their messages across platforms and responding within a few hours.

A Final Word: Privacy

Don’t put anything on social media that you wouldn’t say directly to a prospective home buyer or seller. For example, if you are interested in a home and your Boston buyer’s agent has put in an offer, don’t post the address with pictures and say how much you love it. This could hurt your negotiation stance if the home seller finds out.

Bottom line: Any time you post online, ask yourself if you really need the attention and responses of your friends and acquaintances. Remember, the best person to answer your real estate questions is either yourself (“Yes, I could work with that kitchen!”) or your real estate agent, or another expert. Social media is a great tool, as long as we use it correctly.

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