What real estate agents are saying about Facebook's rental listings

Is the future bright for Facebook real estate?

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Facebook has gone full bore into creating a space for rental real estate inside of Marketplace. This endeavor was not just a simple marketplace listing but rather increasing the tools that would-be homesellers have to get their place rented.

A quick look at Facebook’s FAQ page indicates that home sales could soon be available.

Facebook real estate future for 2018

The question isn’t if Facebook will get into the real estate space, it’s when — and what will it look like.

To answer this question we simply need to look at what Facebook is up to with rental real estate, as well as ask a few real estate agents who can keep a level head about it.

The consensus was that Marketplace is an enhanced version of Craigslist to most consumers. There’s more credibility to the sellers, but it’s still not a great experience to buy and sell from unless you’re “hyper local.”

“Facebook getting into the real estate space is no surprise. Agents spend quite a bit of marketing dollars paying for leads from other sources, so why wouldn’t Facebook monetize on this opportunity,” said Jennifer Susanne of Sotheby’s International in an email.

“In its initial phase, I think it’s competing more with Craigslist than Zillow. There is still no substitute for personal touch and quality customer service.”

Ultimately, this initial offering seems to be more for the DIYers and potential “for sale by owners.”

“I have clients that look at other agents’ posts on Marketplace and groups now, and they are simply browsing,” said Michael Perna, a Detroit Realtor with Keller Williams. “When they start to get serious, they look at another portal, such as Zillow. Facebook would need to really do something special I think to change that behavior.”

At least that’s the feeling for now.

Facebook real estate beyond 2018

Although 2018 might mark the first time that you’d make sure your home is listed on the Facebook marketplace, the future is a bit more interesting.

Currently, the only way a property manager can list a rental is by doing it through a third-party services. If Facebook’s rental strategy is any indication, we can peer into a real estate future with Facebook partnering (acquiring?) another listing provider to get real estate listings on Facebook.

Whoever Facebook buys or partners with will certainly create a shift in the marketplace (no pun intended).

What should agents do about Facebook real estate?

As real estate agents across the country hear of this news, it’s sure to cause a bit of panic or at least a good bit of passive aggressive comments about Facebook. It’s time to face reality.

Agents (and brokers) have lost control of their listings. This is nothing new. In order to survive, they’ll need to continue to add value. The “how I found my home” may change, but the “who helped me through the process” doesn’t have to.

Ultimately, Facebook would only do this to generate revenue. If the past is any indication, there will be a free service for all to use, followed by “boosting.”

Unless it partners with a brokerage, I don’t see it touching real estate agent’s commission — well, just the part that pays for marketing.

Milton Coste, Keller Williams in New York said in an email: “Facebook, Amazon and the rest of the giant tech companies have already started to create in our space. For us to adapt and continue to stay ahead of the curb, the real estate agent will need to constantly pivot from one platform to the next and use them to introduce themselves to new clients.”

Finally, when I’m asked about a “future-proof strategy” for real estate, I’d turn it over to Bruce Ailon of Remax Town and Country.

“I have worked in real estate for 38 years,” he said in an email. “Many things have changed; technology has opened access to information to all. What has not changed is that in ever-increasing percentages of buyers and sellers continue to employ real estate agents with high levels of satisfaction at the end of the process. I do not see Facebook changing that.”

Joshua Jarvis is a digital marketer with 4rd Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.