The real estate market has been on fire in the midst of a global pandemic.
Demand for homes has skyrocketed, pushing prices to all-time highs. Because of the high level of competition, homes are selling in record time, with multiple bids and all-cash offers.
According to a Zillow survey conducted last year, 36% of buyers would buy a home sight unseen. Despite all of the desperate buyers willing to skip the in-person showing, the majority of people still expect to see a home first.
During the peak of the pandemic, real estate agents across the country discovered that the social media platform TikTok was an excellent way to show prospective buyers homes in a safe manner. Some claim that the video app has revolutionized the way real estate is sold – and that it is here to stay. Madison Sutton is a 25-year-old New York City agent. She specializes in off-market transactions and “hidden-treasure apartments.” During the pandemic, however, she was scraping the barrel for leads because so many people were fleeing the city.
In early 2020, Sutton launched her TikTok account, @TheNYCAgent. She had “absolutely no expectations for it,” citing the pandemic as the impetus for opening her account. However, she claims that once she began posting apartment tours on the app, interest in her TikTok and her properties skyrocketed.
TikTok now accounts for 100 percent of Sutton’s business, and her commissions have nearly doubled.
According to Statista, nearly three-quarters of TikTok users spend more than an hour per week on the app. The never-ending scrolling and use of algorithms keep users returning for more. Sutton sees this format as a strength. “Where else in New York City can you see 10 apartments in 10 minutes except TikTok?” Sutton asked.
While most homebuyers are concerned about scheduling in-person tours, those with internet access can watch in-depth videos created by Sutton with the flick of a finger.
TikTok’s quick-fire video interface and algorithmically curated For You page contribute to its usefulness for real estate agents. Videos that appear on a user’s For You page are curated based on their specific interests, location, search history, and interactions with advertisers. Because TikTok uses engagement metrics to determine video interest, a new content creator does not need a large following or paid promotion for their video to go viral and reach a large audience.
Prince Whiting, a realtor from Fort Worth, Texas, received his first hit after only a week on the platform. He has 2.2 million likes on his videos since launching @TheHouseofWhiting in January 2021. Unlike his previous method of paid print advertising, the exposure he receives on his content is virtually free.
Whiting claims that, unlike other social media platforms, TikTok hashtags such as #homesforsale (24.4 million views) and #luxuryrealestate (556 million views) make it easier for him to reach people who are ready to buy.
There is, of course, a learning curve, as with any new social media platform. With six years of real estate experience and no prior knowledge of TikTok, Dallas real estate broker Joseph Felling admits it took a few tries to find his niche on the platform.
Felling said he’s had the most success by emphasizing Dallas’ low home prices in comparison to other major metropolitan areas in the United States. TikTok, more than any other platform, has enabled him to reach clients from outside of Texas.
He claims that TikTok now accounts for roughly 75 percent of his leads, and that his sales have nearly quadrupled. As a result, Felling no longer advertises his properties in print publications.
TikTok will have 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021, according to TikTok.
According to Sutton, a more visual medium allows potential buyers to imagine themselves living in a specific town or city. She frequently incorporates local video content into her feed, displaying her favorite restaurants and markets in the surrounding neighborhoods.
TikTok, above all, can be used by realtors to engage their buyers in a conversation. Sutton claims she’s formed long-lasting relationships with TikTok clients who frequently return to her for the next step in their house-hunting journey.