By embracing social media and developing a strong presence online, real estate agents are the new wave of celebrities.
The only thing more in demand than hand sanitizer during the pandemic might just be real estate. Saturday Night Live aired a sketch about the sensual allure of Zillow listings, and places like upstate New York are witnessing a bloodbath of buyers looking for a permanent space to settle in this very impermanent, unsettling time. Real estate agents have had to adapt, and that means, like everyone else, they had to go online.
“The pandemic intensified the awareness that the traditional way of finding an agent either by way of social circle or a flyer you get in the mail was not necessarily possible,” Lauren Matera of Coldwell Banker Realty explains on a phone call. Having been in real estate for the past three years, Maryland-based Matera says she was ahead of the curve on getting on social media. Today she has nearly 4,000 followers on Instagram and 342,000 on TikTok. With almost half of the buyer population being millennials or Gen Z navigating a digital-first world, social media isn’t just en vogue right now—it’s essential.
“They don’t want sales-y. They don’t want a flyer in the mail. They don’t want to be pitched,” Matera says of the upcoming generation of buyers. “They want to pick somebody that they think has their back, is genuine, that they could have a real conversation with, and I don’t think that the previous generations of agents were prepared for that.”
"They don't want sales-y. They don't want a flyer in the mail. They don't want to be pitched."
Agents like Matera are using Instagram, TikTok, and Linktree to become social media celebrities on top of their full-time work, taking cues from shows like Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Listing, which have cast a new, glamorous light on the real estate industry in time for the changed preferences of buyers. Clients don’t want phone numbers or emails—Matera says they instead ask for social media handles so they can research agents and lenders and decide if they want to work with them before ever picking up the phone.
In fact, Matera says many of her clients found her by searching for real estate agents on social media. Because of this, clients are expecting a much more personal relationship with their agent, using their social media presence to get an idea of their personality to see if it would be a fit, rather than just the agent’s credentials.
“With this new millennial and Gen Z era, they want to vet their agents, vet their lender, their inspector, everybody in that home process,” Matera says. “They want to know their personality, their background, their energy. They’re choosing them before they even extend information to them.”
As the celebrity real estate industry booms both on and offline, prominent social media-savvy real estate agents and developers shared their tips for using social media and Linktree to land clients.
Use Instagram to define yourself
“Instagram is kind of like my homing point,” Matera says. Her clients on Facebook and followers on TikTok likely all use Instagram in some capacity, and therefore agents agree it’s the best place to make clear to potential clients who they could be working with.
“Make sure your [Instagram] is professional, relatable, and shows who you really are,” Krista Nickols of Serhant, who has over 11,000 Instagram followers, says over email. “I like to focus on what’s important in my life and keep my profile true to myself: being a mom, NYC real estate, design, and fashion.”
And, Matera adds, make sure your message is clear. Before you post on Instagram, ask yourself, “Who is that post for? How are they supposed to respond to it? What action are they supposed to take?” Let the answers inform what you share—even if you don’t see results right away.
“Be patient,” Nickols says. “There are so many times I don’t feel like posting after a crazy workday. But then I do it and the post leads to a listings pitch.”
Use TikTok to experiment
In case the string of dog clips, dance videos, and memes that show up on your For You Page didn’t make it clear: TikTok is a place to be weird. While Instagram is mostly professional, social media savvy agents encourage creativity on TikTok to help reach new audiences.
“Post, post, post. Don’t be shy,” says Allon Avgi, a real estate developer with 5,000 TikTok followers. “Get used to being in front of the camera and don’t think you’re hiding any secrets from anyone. Free content is shared everyday, why not jump on board and help more people become successful?”
Plus, indulging your most creative ideas will help you stand out in an oversaturated market.
“It’s amazing how similar and how repetitive and how redundant and duplicated things can be,” Matera says. “If [something’s] your shtick, just own it. And unapologetically. If it’s not fun and you’re not enjoying it, then don’t do it.”
Use Linktree to connect your platforms
With celebrity real estate agents expanding across social media platforms, it’s essential to have a place that has all the information clients need in one place. Beyond just being a platform for multiple links, Linktree also allows real estate agents to capture email addresses for mailing lists, display thumbnail images of the homes next to links, and share video content such as virtual home tours.
“Linktree is an accessible and user-friendly funneling system,” Matera says. “It’s almost like a menu. What’s offered? What’s available? If we have an event, if I have sign ups for an open house, if have sign ups for a coaching event that I’m hosting, a new listing, or if there’s a sale for a dining room table that everybody keeps asking me about on my TikTok, I can put it over on that.”
Plus, displaying your experiences and achievements on Linktree allows you to define yourself before your potential clients do.
“I find that most prospective buyers and sellers make up their mind quickly and want to put you in a box,” Nickols says. “The content I feature on Linktree lets me help define what box I get put into.”
But perhaps most importantly, Linktree allows followers to go even deeper in this new world of social media and celebrity real estate.
“It helps me offer my following more ways to follow, interact, and source information. But it also just gives me the option to have that offering for them without having to build out a website, add links, make pages,” Matera adds. “It’s just so easy.”
For established agents, adapting to the new social media world of celebrity real estate may be intimidating, but using core platforms to define yourself, increase visibility, and share your achievements promises an exciting new chapter for the industry.
About the author: Kathryn Lindsay is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. Find out more at kathrynfionalindsay.com