A newly launched social networking site for the real estate industry hopes to help investors, agents and vendors make deals.

Atlanta-based RealtyJoin is for professionals in the real estate industry — agents, plumbers, electricians, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, etc. — hoping to publicize their services and team up with investors and vice versa.

Users set up profiles that they can then share on other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Users plug in their ZIP code and the site then shows them members in that same ZIP code. Those worried about the security of their information can customize their privacy settings.

To find professionals with similar interests users can join specialized groups such as "Foreclosures in Atlanta." They can also blog and set themselves up as experts in their area and have other users recommend them.

"Become active. The more you engage, the more you benefit. You can set yourself up as ‘Ed the Electrician, the Answer Man in Iowa,’ where people can ask you questions. You do that, you’re going to be attracting a lot of business," said Andy Heller, co-founder and head of marketing for RealtyJoin.

The site launched three weeks ago and already has nearly 2,000 members nationwide, according to Heller. The site is free to join.

Heller is a real estate investment educator. So far, he says about 60 percent of members are from real estate clubs, though he hopes 30 to 50 percent of members will eventually be vendors.

The site has incentives in place to grow its membership. Those who refer five or more friends get educational materials — which the site values at more than $1,000 — for free. Those who refer 25 people get to be featured members free for one month. That means other users see their name, title and photo without having to search for them specifically.

The site also sells educational materials and reports on foreclosure data through a partnership with RealtyTrac, Heller said. Eventually investors will also be able to pay to post their listings. But ultimately, the site hopes 95 percent of their return will come through advertising.

"(The site) is designed to make people money. We will make our money if the site becomes relevant (and) if it becomes valuable to real estate investors and vendors," Heller said.

The site has fully launched, although it is still in beta, indicating that the company will continue to enhance the site over time, according to co-founder James Riseman, the site’s head of products.


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