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Social Media, FOMO & The Real Estate Market

A big question.  How has social media affected real estate purchases?  Are there positive impacts?  Negative ones?  Both?

On one hand, I hear stories about how Facebook is helping realtors do business, Instagram helping us promote what we’re up to, spreading the word, quite effectively, with very beautiful photographs.  I do get to see absolutely gorgeous apartments and views.  It’s fun to share.  I also spend a lot of time curating what I say and how my team and I present properties; social media is a great tool.  For me.

Buyers and sellers also get to share what they are up to with their real estate.  Is their home on the market?  They will share the gorgeous photos of their home.  Are they excited to buy a property?  Then they can share the photos with their friends.

BUT…..here’s where I wonder if the wheels come off the bus a little bit.

What if buyers get very accustomed to the instant gratification of, well, Instagram?  What if the prospect of having to buy an “ugly” apartment, and have to take the time to renovate it, doesn’t line up with their desired impression or curated look they want for their Facebook timeline?

Do people have the ability to delay gratification and renovate over a period of months?  Has social media made fixer-uppers personae non gratae?  (That’s the Latin plural, people.  I haven’t used that in a while…thanks, Google for helping my misspelling).

What if buyers don’t think they can post their purchase photos immediately?  Not everyone is willing to share the underbelly of their lives online.  And those numbers of likes when you do share isn’t nearly as high, either, when you do…

Here’s where I share a little bit of my experience of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and why I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook.

First, it hasn’t occurred only to me that people often only post their “highlight reel” on social media.  Scrolling through your Facebook timeline, you can be left with the impression that you’re the only person whose child was up all night with a stomach bug (gross!) or decided to jump in muddy puddles on the way to a playdate.  The same goes for real estate.  Are you the only one who is thinking about buying an estate-condition property that is not Insta-worthy?

I have been just as susceptible to this misimpression as anyone.  The idea that someone else’s vacations, homes, etc – all of that envy that I don’t want to admit to having- it definitely pops up scrolling through a Facebook Feed for me.  Vacations are probably much more fun to post than grubby Before pictures of real estate.

And so, pulling it back to real estate, and on a more macro level, perhaps social media is pushing people away from pulling the trigger on a purchase now.  You only hear about when people perhaps “timed the market,” and you don’t want to miss out on the bottom of the market.  I mean, really.  Who wants to leave money on the table?  Who wants to miss out on the coolest new documentary or show on Netflix?

Of course, you often only hear about the “highlights” of the people who think they timed the market (odds are they really didn’t, but that’s for another time), and you don’t hear when people sold at a loss- again, that’s not much of a highlight for anyone, and a travail few would share.

Is there a Fear of Missing Out on that renovated property, too?  A buyer may ask herself, “Can they all be in bad condition?  Do they all need this much work?  Where is that gorgeous apartment that so and so posted online a few weeks ago?”

I also wonder if Social Media couldn’t inspire people towards purchasing apartments that need work, so that you could have the vision and fun of creating a space to your own specifications.  But it turns out that Social Media hasn’t given buyers much in the way of vision, despite the barrage of images to potentially do so.

So you have this notion of the hard work of renovating an apartment, combined with the unsexy months of not being able to share your life, with all of the trials and tribulations of renovating- and believe me, there are many, many, and many which will test even the strongest marriage.

It certainly can leave people feeling a bit disconnected.  In this day and age, being unable to share can be very disconcerting.

With that in mind, I would consider social media and the addictive pressures of posting “perfection” to be a direct impediment to purchasing property that needs any work.  Maybe the answer is posting lots of the photos of demo, mid-renovation, and finished product- something that my stepsister did during the home renovation she and her husband just undertook.  Be your own TV show, then?  What do you think?  My thoughts on this are still forming.

Renovation can be daunting, and the combination of a sales market that doesn’t have a clear direction and a need to renovate a particular property can be quite hard on a buyer.  It may just be a side effect of the current market that is causing a Fear of Renovation, and FOMO may have nothing to do with it!

But…I’m growing clearer of the negative impacts of social media on RE purchases, in specific cases like fixer-uppers.

As always, thanks for taking a read! -S