Facebook's real-world implications

Community is paramount for consumers, homebuyers

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SAN FRANCISCO — The financial crisis and the evolution of the Internet away from a culture of "search and surf" to a "friend era" driven by social networking sites have produced profound changes in consumer attitudes that must be understood in order to thrive during the recovery, consumer behavior experts told attendees at a homebuilding industry conference this week.

Consumers feel burned by the advice they received from their "trusted advisers" in the lead-up to the financial crisis, including real estate professionals, said J. Walker Smith, executive vice chairman of market research and consulting firm The Futures Co.