Real Estate

How agents can take part in the real estate-as-entertainment trend

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A trend has emerged in luxury real estate: long before prospective buyers purchase properties, they consume high-end home and lifestyle content as entertainment — and leading agents are leaning in.

Shelton Wilder

“Social media is my social proof,” says Shelton Wilder, Real Estate Associate with Sotheby’s International Realty – Brentwood Brokerage. “The driving force of my business is referrals, and it’s imperative to show an online presence as a real estate professional.”

Roh Habibi, Global Real Estate Portfolio Manager at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, has likewise been staying ahead of this trend as it evolves. “I adopted social media as a business strategy in 2012 after watching Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Million Dollar Listing New York. I quickly realized Realtors are the new rockstars, and that this would definitely be a central pillar of my ‘content to commerce’ strategy.”

As Habibi puts it, the reasoning is simple: “As agents, our main focus is to become known by as many people on the face of the planet as possible. If they don’t know me, they will never do business with me.”

So, how can agents raise their game when it comes to real estate as entertainment? Here are six insights.

1. Create and curate the right content for your audiences

Hayden Moran-Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty

Roh Habibi

Habibi recommends starting by strategically homing in on the demands and desires of the audience segments you aspire to work with. By sharing luxury and real estate content — top travel destinations, haute cuisine, and advice on negotiating high-end and high-stakes deals — he shows an appreciation and understanding of his clients’ lifestyles. “Being authentic is the most important thing,” he says.

But once you establish your brand, it’s critical to elaborate on it in interesting and inspiring ways. “I’m a very creative person, so I always love engaging with current trends but adding my own personal twist on them,” says Wilder. “I have filmed what I call a ‘Wilder Wednesday’ video every week since 2017. Whether I’m giving designer tips from a kitchen and bath store or eating chocolate crickets for a silly reel, it’s important for my followers to see my personality time and time again.”

2. Instagram continues to deliver

Shelton Wilder-Sotheby’s International Realty-Brentwood Brokerage

For many audiences, Instagram remains peak entertainment — and for agents like Wilder and Habibi, it remains a way to connect with like-minded people and businesses. “A young, successful YouTuber found me on Instagram and within weeks purchased a home with me,” says Wilder. “I had a previous client’s daughter contact me after seeing my social media posts, and she hired me to prep and list her home. I’ve even helped sell other LA agents’ homes by posting them on my feed, and watching as clients rush in with offers as soon as they hit the market.”

It speaks volumes of the value of maintaining a presence on this platform. “I just closed a $5.5M deal directly from Instagram, and then the seller messaged me about a $12 million home he also owns and intends to sell next year,” says Habibi. “I asked him how he found me and what inspired him to reach out to me rather than the 6,000 other agents in the city. He said he felt like he already knew me and my expertise based on my previous posts.”

3. Short-form holds huge promise

Antonia Bagoje-Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty

If you think TikTok is for kids, think again. Short-form video is taking over the world, and while TikTok might be the most prominent example — plenty of real estate professionals are embracing the platform — it competes with other social media such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.

Habibi and Wilder both have their eyes on YouTube Shorts in particular, as it enables agents to post highly snackable and shareable TikTok-style videos while also connecting viewers back to the substantial, long-form content on their personal channels.

4. Podcasts elevate and entertain

Shelton Wilder-Sotheby’s International Realty-Brentwood Brokerage

Everyone has a favorite podcast these days. If agents have the time and resources to produce one or be a guest on an established podcast, it could be a great way to get in front of new audiences and showcase market expertise.

5. Always welcome the wow factor

Luxury properties are exceptional, so the best real estate entertainment showcases them in the most spectacular ways. Invest in high-quality video and production values, with things like drone tours to take viewers’ breath away.

6. Seek influence(r)s who inspire

Hayden Moran-Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty

Learn from the leaders. Take a look at other professionals in real estate and adjacent industries who are producing truly first-rate social content, and borrow from their playbook. “I really enjoy the time and effort Ryan Serhant puts into his media division — it’s well-produced and executed,” says Habibi.

“Kelly Wearstler is an inspiring designer here in LA who has worked on several high-end residential homes,” adds Wilder. “I also think it’s important that I follow all of my friends and clients on social media. Having the chance to see what goes on in their work and everyday life keeps me motivated and never fails to make me smile.”

But never forget that you are, always will be, your own greatest asset. “Be authentically you, speak about what you know, and have a lot of fun with it,” says Habibi. “Help people understand the life that they want can be theirs and that everything is possible.”

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