People need to know that social media sites don’t sell real estate before they get overly excited and start setting up profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, and open accounts on Flickr, join Twitter and start a blog.

None of those services sell real estate. It is really too bad because so many good agents are spending their time on the Internet these days. I can give examples of how all of these nifty Web 2.0 sites have failed me. Recently I had a prospective buyer — we will call her "Mary" — who had been lurking on my blog. She contacted me one day and told me that she really wants to buy a house.

People need to know that social media sites don’t sell real estate before they get overly excited and start setting up profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, and open accounts on Flickr, join Twitter and start a blog.

None of those services sell real estate. It is really too bad because so many good agents are spending their time on the Internet these days. I can give examples of how all of these nifty Web 2.0 sites have failed me. Recently I had a prospective buyer — we will call her "Mary" — who had been lurking on my blog. She contacted me one day and told me that she really wants to buy a house.

I have been showing Mary houses for six weeks. I think I have been showing her 10 to 11 houses each week. Mary seems to have developed a severe case of analysis paralysis and at this point I am not all that sure that she is homeowner material.

I have not made a dime working with Mary but she is doing a wonderful job wearing me out and I am becoming more familiar with the housing stock in one St. Paul neighborhood.

Last year I worked with a young man who lives in Texas. We have never met in person but he found me through my blog and asked me to list his condo. I put the condo on the market but from day one there were problems. He had some renters in the unit with below-average housekeeping skills.

Getting pictures of the unit was a challenge, and then there was the issue of the very large dog that had to be removed from the unit each time there was a showing. If the renters were at work and could not go home and get the dog, they refused the showing.

The unit was on the market for two months before the seller and I both decided that it wasn’t going to work out. I spent some money on marketing and did all the extra work that needs to be done when working with an out-of-town seller but I didn’t have anything to show for my hard work. …CONTINUED

The Internet failed me again. I have had similar experiences with Twitter and Flickr. Last year I met a buyer through Flickr, a photo-sharing Web site. She saw my photos and realized that I must live nearby. She was right — we lived within three blocks of each other.

Her story had a happy ending. We found her a home but there is still a "but." I had to do much more than upload pictures to my Flickr account. I showed her a bunch of houses and there was an issue with the furnace in the home she fell in love with. It took at least a week to hammer out a deal that worked for both buyer and seller.

The young man I met on Twitter last week who sent me the e-mail with all the questions about buying his first home is going to be a challenge. He does not have enough money saved up for a down payment. Right now I can’t picture myself at a closing with him.

I would be most interested in talking to and learning from anyone who has a blog, Web site, Twitter account or any other kind of social media site that sells real estate. My activities on the Internet have been more like prospecting and maybe marketing, but not selling.

Some agents call on for-sale-by-owners, do open houses, call on expired listings, distribute fliers, mail out postcards and call people in their sphere. If these prospecting activities sell real estate then it would be best for me to start doing them again instead of spending so much time on the Internet and having so little to show for it in some cases.

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