“Throw everything at the wall”: How brokerages are angling for TikTok fame

Platform challenges brands as users “can sniff out a fake from a mile away”

Brokerages are making TikTok accounts
(iStock / illustration by Ilya Hourie for The Real Deal)

TikTok and New York City real estate have a courtship that dates back to 2020, when brokers expanded their digital reach to potential buyers and tenants stuck at home.

Two years later, the platform’s pull has extended beyond individual agents. Some of the biggest names in brokerage are also looking for a slice of the video platform’s viral potential, including recent additions Brown Harris Stevens and RE/MAX.

New York City brokerages bidding for space on the “For You” page have Corcoran to beat. The brokerage boasts more than 290,000 followers, though the company’s director of digital content Sydney Perry cautioned that success isn’t a sure thing when wading into the algorithm.

Users “can sniff out a fake from a mile away,” Perry said.

The brokerage’s TikTok debut didn’t come lightly: Perry reserved the handle @corcorangroup in 2019, long before the company began using the account in 2021.

“We had done our due diligence of watching the platform, seeing how we can leverage it for both our brand, our listings and our agents,” Perry said “We just figured that at that point in time we were ready.”

The head of Serhant Studios — Serhant’s social media and video arm — is Cody D’Ambrosio, a veteran of BuzzFeed and Youtube channel Rhett and Link. In addition to running Serhant’s company TikTok, he also assists with CEO Ryan Serhant’s and some individual accounts.

Some agents were immediately comfortable on camera, while others required some finesse, D’Ambrosio said.

But when it comes to strategy? “Throw everything against the wall,” D’Ambrosio said.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“No one wants to be sold to, but everybody wants to go shopping with a friend,” D’Ambrosio said. “In having fun and putting yourself out there, you’re really showing that you’re somebody that [viewers] want to work with.”

Despite the platform’s reputation as a breeding ground for trends aimed at Gen Z viewers, some videos have translated into a boost to business, D’Ambrosio said. After a clip about 60 Joralemon Street, a Brooklyn home with a massive backyard located next to a shell MTA building, garnered over 11,000 likes, Serhant’s open house volume doubled.

“It’s a platform that everybody is on,” D’Ambrosio said. “And we have real estate at every price point.”

Read more

New York
Brown Harris Stevens adding TikTok training to its arsenal
Ryan Serhant and Bess Freedman (iStock, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)
New York
Ryan Serhant fires back at Bess Freedman, calls legacy brokerages "scared"

REAL New York’s TikTok account features a single voice known as Megan that narrates apartment tours to more than 18,300 followers.

“TikTok is an amazing tool to actually be able to give a company a personality,” principal and co-founder Louis Adler said, adding that mid-size boutique shops like REAL New York have a better chance to cultivate a focused personality “versus a larger shop among many markets and different kinds of product.”

Douglas Elliman is one such brand, featuring videos of homes in markets across the country. The team behind the account — which boasts 26,400 followers — typically works with pre-filmed videos and photographs from listings they repurpose for the short clips.

The key, according to CEO ​​Scott Durkin, is posting something “fast and energetic and sexy.”

“It has exposure for the agent, as well as certainly the property and the brand, and it’s completely free,” Durkin said. “If your company’s not doing it for you right now, you need to look at another company.”