Image: Donica Ida

Heads up, Seattle: Real estate agents in Emerald City are sifting through your thoughts—no matter how boring or banal—and they’re learning a lot more about your home-buying tendencies than you might think. Before you freak out and start wearing a foil hat, it’s not nearly as Big Brother as it sounds: Like geeks to a new Apple device, tech-savvy property pushers have been swarming Twitter, the microblogging service that lets users shoot personal updates to friends and subscribers in 140-character bursts, and they’ve been mining it for market research.

“Tweeting” about how easy it is to hear your new baby cry through the paper-thin walls in your two-bedroom bungalow may seem innocuous to you, but to people like Ardell DellaLoggia, it’s the predictor of a real estate upgrade to come. “I’m trying to learn what people want,” says the Coldwell Banker Bain associate broker, who joined Twitter last summer to follow Seattle users’ stream-of-consciousness postings. “Are they mentioning real estate?”

Image: Donica Ida

And with real estate discussions today focusing more on the tanking market than on bullish buyer sentiment, the real estate Twitterati are tweeting, too—not to hawk houses, but to build virtual relationships. Stacey Lange, a Windermere agent, hasn’t sealed any deals by posting quippy comments online, but she did get a referral—via someone who’d been following her Twitter feed from Dallas—so she’s sold on the service. “People who use [Twitter] and see that you sell houses or that interest rates are low, they’re the ones who are going to come back to you [when they’re ready to buy],” she says.

The upshot for home buyers? The anonymous online brain-picking that the real estate agents have been doing can work both ways. “There are people who read me and hate me,” DellaLoggia says, with a laugh. “That’s good. They learned something: They learned not to call me.”

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What you can get for… $400,000

The median home value in Seattle was still hovering around $400,000 at press time, and for those who think prices for houses in that range will drop much more, consider this: According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, the available inventory for houses priced $250,000 to $500,000 was stabilizing last fall, which suggests values might do the same.

 

Columbia City $399,000

Details 5002 44th Ave S; 1,840 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, built 1920.
Selling points The only clues to this home’s age are its character-rich archways; the renovated bathroom adds a touch of modernity.
Listed by Laurie Samuelsen, Windermere


 

Sammamish $399,900

Details 502 224th Pl NE; 1,285 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, built 1999.
Selling points Technically it’s a townhome, but with no adjoining walls, a wraparound front porch, and granite in the kitchen, does it matter?
Listed by Matt Jensen, The Cascade Team



West Seattle $399,950

Details 4862 18th Ave SW; 2,750 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, built 2009.
Selling points If $145 per square foot isn’t tempting enough, check out the covered second-floor deck and the Built Green energy-efficient construction.
Listed by Bill Reid, John L. Scott