How to Use Twitter to Find Your Dream Home

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Don't overlook Twitter.com when searching for your dream home. You can find agents and properties via the social media site -- not just where Lindsay Lohan's partying and what Martha Stewart's dogs are up to. Thousands of real estate agents worldwide are actively tweeting (not surprising as they are experts at self-promotion and networking) but how does a would-be savvy buyer determine whose tweets are trustworthy?

Once you have a Twitter account try a basic search by zip code or city/neighborhood name. (Twitter's advanced search lets you locate tweets within a certain radius of a location). Depending on the location, especially if you're in a city like Los Angeles or Austin, Texas, several tweets with listings will appear, typically with a link. You've found brokers who tweet! Whether they are reliable is not always predictable, but if they're tweeting well, sign up to follow them and you'll be getting info on listings from them, most likely as soon as a property hits the market.

And when following a real estate agent, real life attributes apply: You want someone that has a deep knowledge of the neighborhood and market (so you can make a sensible offer). And you definitely want someone you can work with and isn't just about the deal and themselves (and if their tweets are annoying and self-serving, unfollow).

"An agent who is listens and responds is probably the kind of agent you want to work with in real life, as the way they tweet can reflect their personality," says Los Angeles-based Rob Kallick of Keller Williams (a Twitter user since May 2009 @takesunset).

The real estate agents with the most followers are not just about the business. For instance, a real estate agent who specializes in condominiums, Kevin Tomlinson (@miamibeach), mixes reports on Miami Beach restaurants and concerts with tweets regarding local real estate news like Lil Wayne putting his condo on the market for $2.8 million.

Virtual house hunting is increasingly effortless. Use twitter search or online twitter directories like twellow or tweetdeck (lets you search tweets in real time) to search for a neighborhood, school district or even architectural style you desire. Tweetlister allows you to search tweets linked to commercial and residential properties for sale and for rent. (Enter a zip code, price range and other criteria to find a list of links to listings.) Zillow.com's iPhone app allows you to search and find properties and then share via twitter: instantly find a property and also eliminate unsuitable listings, too. Sellers have also had some success getting attention for properties, such as the British man who credits Twitter for selling his home.

For newbies, Twitter.com has Twitter basics; Mashable.com (the go-to site for all trends in social media) has created a comprehensive guide to Twitter as well.

While Twitter continues to be popular, expect real estate agents to also embrace Google Buzz just as wholeheartedly. Because you can see "the buzz" (comments and links by Google Buzz users) around a location, imagine the opportunities for real estate agents to announce open houses or post links to current listings? The one thing predictable about what's hot in social media -- it's constantly evolving.
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