Distilling the real estate market to 140 characters or less

 Barak Dunayer (left), whose firm is on Twitter, and Neil Binder whose firm isn’t.

If only home sales were growing like Twitter.com.

Visits to the micro-blogging Web site, on which users post “tweets” of 140 characters or less that are read by the other Twitter members following them, have 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 rapidly signing up.

Twitter newcomers from the real estate world include the Corcoran Group, which posted its first tweet on March 4, and Barak Realty, which began posting on March 12. 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 Monday afternoon, Corcoran had 120 followers and Barak Realty had 202.

“We think it’s the next big thing,” said Barak Dunayer, president of Barak Realty. It’s also, he points out, free marketing.

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Others are approaching the social networking site with more caution. Halstead Property is not yet on Twitter but has plans to join, said Robyn Kammerer, Halstead’s 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 while he can understand other companies using Twitter, he hasn’t yet explored it for BHS.

“I need to look into it,” he said. “I don’t know enough about it yet.”

Neil Binder, co-founder of Bellmarc Realty, said he is not on Twitter and does not know of any salespeople at Bellmarc who are using it. “No one has spoken to me about it offering anything meaningful to them,” he said via e-mail.

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