“If you know of any houses, let me know.” The request, which is completely smoky, is one of those phrases we have all said or heard. It used to be told to close friends, relying on word of mouth and trust toward the theory of degrees of separation. Since the most effective word of mouth is called Facebook, it is increasingly common to see the desperate request for someone looking for home, or go in search of groups full of photos flooded with light or some effect filter to get more targeted and real-time ads. It is undoubtedly a remarkable leap, helpful in being able to network in the face of an absolutely common problem such as looking for housing/finding a tenant. But to what extent is this a convenient shortcut?
Time: Social is currently the most direct form of online communication. Through friends, groups, and shares you are constantly in the flow of information and updates regarding the latest offerings and can respond in real time to interested prospects, speeding up the entire process.
Profiles: through social media, a certain kind of information about prospective tenants is accessed. Valuable recommendations that give us an initial projection of future living together and the home that may be.
Support: Social can be a great supplement to the standard on-site search, especially if you can find ordered groups with precise specifics, such as searching by professional categories or by city (on uniaffitti.it, four are already active: for Siena, Florence, Rome and Milan).
Stream: The need to stay connected to the stream at all times so as not to miss out on the best deals paradoxically risks wasting more time than that spent combing through sites. In addition to the possible flooding with competition from other users, social media is known to require constant attention and alertness that not everyone can afford on a continuous cycle. Not to mention that the higher the needs, the longer the hypothetical time to wait for an adequate offer will be stretched out of proportion.
Structure: Social networks were born to connect friends and relationships, not to find houses for rent. Their flexible architecture is undoubtedly what has made them successful, but it is clear that the vocation for generality means the loss of much nuance. The information and user profiles of rental sites serve in this sense as an archive to give an ordering principle and schematization to the immense cauldron of accessible data.
Dispersion: On social, there are no search filters, no maps that give a clear idea of a city’s housing supply, or no tools to save searches. As in real life relationships, communication readiness and a good dose of luck count more than anything else.
In short, while it is true that social networks are now suitable for everything, even house-hunting, their fast, easy and synthetic nature goes well with a neutral, impelling type of search that needs quick but focused time: a temporary foothold, a sudden move, a transit phase. For everything else, dedicated sites, with their tools and services for more targeted and demanding searches, suitable for those who when they say “I’m looking for a house” mean not just housing and a roof over their head, but a feeling of familiarity, are probably the best choice.
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