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Distilling the market to 140 characters or less.

Byline: Sara Polsky

If only home sales were growing like Twitter. Visits to the micro-blogging Web site, where users post "tweets" of 140 characters or less that are read by the other Twitter members following them, increased from 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to 7 million last month. And perhaps in a quest for new marketing tools, New York City brokerages are among those in a hurry to sign up.

Twitter newcomers from the real estate world include the Corcoran Group and Barak Realty, both of which began posting last month. The Haber Team at Prudential Douglas Elliman launched a Twitter account in late 2008. Elliman as a whole does not yet use the service but is "seriously considering it," said Dottie Herman, Elliman's president and CEO.

As of March 26, Corcoran had 156 followers and Barak Realty had 233. "We think it's the next big thing," said Barak Dunayer, president of Barak Realty.

Others are approaching the social networking site more cautiously. Halstead Property is not yet on Twitter but has plans to join, said Robyn Kammerer, vice president of communications. "You need to be providing updates all the time, so until we have the resources and the capability to do it, I just don't think it's a smart decision," she said.

Corcoran has used its feed to advertise open houses and expos. Barak Realty posts new listings and links to media stories (including those in The Real Deal) quoting its brokers. In response, Barak sometimes gets direct messages from Twitter followers interested in learning more about specific listings, said Anna Crowley, the company's marketing coordinator, who launched the Twitter feed.

Hall Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens, said that while he understands why other companies are using it, he hasn't yet explored it for BHS. Neil Binder, co-founder of Bellmarc Realty, said he is not on Twitter and doesn't know of any of his salespeople using it. "No one has spoken to me about it offering anything meaningful to them." he said.

Corcoran Sunshine, Gumley Haft Kleier, Bond New York and Charles Rutenberg Realty also said they were not on Twitter.

This story was originally published on The Real Deal's daily blog.
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Author:Polsky, Sara
Publication:The Real Deal
Date:Mar 31, 2009
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