Editor's note: This article originally ran on HSH.com. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Pinterest is a fast-growing social media photo-sharing website that some Realtors believe can help you find your next home.
The free site had over 24 million unique visitors in September 2013, according to tech research company comScore.
Pinterest members "pin," or post pictures they'd like to publicize. Since the site relies on visual features, Pinterest is an asset to any industry -- including real estate -- that relies on photos, says Cameron Keegan, a real estate broker in Greenville, S.C. "It makes a lot of sense as an image gallery for people to share pictures," Keegan says.
If you're a Pinterest user looking for a new home, there's a chance that you could see a picture of a property that's perfect for you, he says.
Here's a look at how you might find your next dream home on Pinterest.
Imagine flipping through the pages of magazine, tearing out pictures that inspire you and keeping them in a notebook. Pinterest is essentially the same thing but in an electronic form, says Keegan. But instead of a "notebook" you have a "board," and the pictures you "pin" to your board can come from either your computer or an outside website that allows you to pin them to your board.
It's hard to visit any website that features home décor today without having the option to "pin it" whenever you hover your mouse over a picture, he says.
Make a few "pins" of pictures you like -- homes that are for sale in your area, for example -- and you can add them to your board. You can also create several boards in your account. And just like other social media services, you can attract followers to your board and follow other boards.
It's wise for homebuyers to follow the Pinterest board of their Realtor, Keegan says.
Pinterest utilized to show homes
Pinterest is especially beneficial to homebuyers who are looking for a property in a new city, Keegan says.
"If anyone is looking to relocate to an unfamiliar area, I would recommend Pinterest for finding local pictures and area information in general," he says. "It's good for people who are moving in from out of state. You can get information about local schools, welcome areas, and places like that."
Pinterest is also an important way for homebuyers to show their Realtors what they're looking for in a new property, says Jenelle Isaacson, owner of Living Room Realty in Portland, Ore. "If I have a client who is looking for a specific aesthetic that they're trying to communicate, I can ask them to make a board of things (they want in a new house)," she says. "It's a way for us to visually communicate an idea."
Many devoted Pinterest users spend hours pinning pictures of their dream homes or dream rooms, and that can provide great inspiration to others, Isaacson says. "Buyers are looking for homes that they can see themselves living in."
If you are already looking at homes online, following a few Pinterest boards can help you see more ideas that you hadn't noticed before, she says.
Buyers can take advantage
You can spread the word to your friends that you're looking for properties, and if they find one that's available, they can easily "repin" it on their boards, says Diane Saatchi, associate broker with Saunders and Associates in Bridgehampton, N.Y. If you follow their boards, you can find the property, too, she says.Comment on this story
With a Pinterest board, you can see posted pictures in an instant. "In the past, it could take days or even weeks for photos of a new property to appear in a newspaper or publication for public viewing," Saatchi says. But now, photos can be posted and shared among friends and colleagues almost immediately.
"Everyone wants to be the first to know about a listing," Saatchi says. "And many people are making (mental) decisions before they physically visit the property." As a homebuyer, your next home could be "pinned" and waiting for you, and you may have an opportunity to act on it before a competing homebuyer sees it, she says.
Pinterest is one of the hottest social media platforms online, with millions of visitors looking to buy and sell homes. If you're a homebuyer, consider using this photo-sharing site as an important resource to help you find your next home.
Margarette Burnette is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who specializes in personal finance and real estate topics. In her twelve years of corporate and journalistic experience, she's written for dozens of publications, including Good Housekeeping.