Buying and leasing in a snap: new media for househunters

As seen in Fairfield County Business Journal and Westchester County Business Journal
The way that real estate is bought and sold is changing, thanks in part to the growing popularity of Snapchat, which had 158 million active daily users at the close of 2016. In neighboring New York City, a small group of real estate agents are using the account “Snaplistings” – launched in the fall of 2016 by two young television professionals in their twenties– to showcase apartments for sale and for rent throughout the five boroughs. A competitive strategy to help would-be buyers and renters snag the right property while it is still available – due in part to the continued strength of the City’s real estate market – “Snaplistings” is also a reflection of the way millennials receive and process information in a predominantly digital world.
While viewing a $6 million listing via Snapchat as opposed to a traditional showing may not be everyone’s bailiwick, it is just one of many examples of how the real estate industry has changed in recent years due in part to the growing popularity of social media for personal and professional use.
The growth of online video – YouTube remains the second largest search engine ranking behind Google – gave way to virtual tours and promotional videos where agents talk you through a listing’s features as you are wooed by the online equivalent of a walk through. These videos have made their way onto websites,populated robust YouTube channels and amassed social shares on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. For some brokerages, they’ve become a standard practice and part of the marketing plan for each and every listing.
Creating experiences to help would-be buyers envision what it would be like to live in a property is nothing new. In 2008, HGTV premiered “Sleep On It”, the show that offers prospective buyers the opportunity to spend the night in the property they are considering purchasing. In 2017, where there are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide and Facebook and YouTube both boast billions of unique monthly users, the potential for real-life experiences like “Sleep On It”  - or even going on a showing or to an open house – hold tremendous potential to spur online/social content for any property that is on the market. Think about it – if you texted your friend a picture of an outfit or home accessory you knew they would like when you were shopping, what is there to stop you from sending along photos of an apartment or home that you think would be a better fit for them than for you?
Whether your brokerage is embracing tools such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube to showcase listings or reaping returns with a more traditional approach to sales, there are marketing lessons from the digital era that can increase the effectiveness of your marketing with either approach. They include:
  • focusing on high-quality visuals;
  • devising a mechanism for responding to inquiries in real-time (or as soon as otherwise possible);
  • trying something new;
  • tailoring your approach to sales and marketing to the needs of your target audience;
  • keeping an eye on the competition;
  • and, understanding the trends that are shifting the dynamics of your industry.
Whether you deem Snapchat and other social media tools the right fit for marketing your firm’s listings, it is a newcomer to the real estate marketing toolkit that warrants keeping on your radar. And, as “Snaplistings” rolls out in other U.S.markets in 2017, two questions remain: Is this a tool for marketing real estate to millennials? Or, is it a fundamental shift in the process of buying and selling?