The more social media becomes entwined in our lives the more opportunity we have to really mess things up. We have all heard about how many, if not most, employers keep tabs on their employees’ Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds but have you ever considered how social media can affect a real estate transaction? Social media experts are warning that too much information in a status update or Tweet can end up costing you thousands of dollars or even the transaction. Here are a few examples:
One woman posted on Facebook that she had just found her dream home in X neighborhood. A friend commented her status making it visible to all of his friends. It just so happened that one of his friends was also looking to buy a home in the same neighborhood. The friend of the friend tracked down the listing and outbid the original poster for the house. Word to the wise: Keep things like this to yourself until the deal closes. It’s great to be excited about buying a house but it would be a total bummer to lose your dream house because you created competition for yourself.
Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for excited buyers to post an update or Tweet like this, “Just made an offer on a great house on X Street. Wish me luck. I’ll do whatever it takes to get this house even if I have to go $10,000 higher.” Word to the wise: Once you have written an offer the seller knows your name and with a couple strokes on the keyboard and clicks of the mouse they can find your social media accounts. With a post like this one where do you think the seller’s counter offer is going to come in at? Hint: It will be more than $10,000 higher than your original offer.
A home seller with numerous posts on Facebook relating to financial problems is asking for a lowball offer. “This unemployment thing sucks.” “Our water just got shut off.” “My car is for sale because we need money to pay some bills.” “Please keep your eyes and ears open for a job for my husband. Having him around the house all day is driving me crazy.” Word to the wise: Social media is a great tool to sell your car or network to find a job but not when you are selling your home. Buyers can be ruthless and if they smell desperation they will try to take advantage of it.
The moral of these examples is, whether you are looking to buy or sell, play your cards close to the vest, online and off. Everyone is looking for an edge when negotiating a real estate transaction and you should be aware that “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Know what your privacy settings are in your social media accounts. Depending on your privacy settings, a Facebook status update can be visible through a simple Google search. If you must share, be smart, not impulsive, about what you say regarding your real estate transaction. Finally, find a good realtor who will remind you of these things.
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