Move over influencers: Real estate is hot property on Instagram

ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Instagram is an increasingly popular medium for real estate, with agents becoming the new influencers. So, how can Instagram help individuals buy and sell properties?

You’ve been on the house hunt for months at this point, without much success. You’ve been through all the apps, checked every website, but nothing’s grabbing you. You’re taking a well-earned night off on the couch, with the TV on in the background and the faithful family pooch snoozing at your feet as you scroll through Instagram. As you flick through your feed, a post with a beautifully staged home catches your eye and you pause. This place hasn’t come up anywhere yet for sale, and you’re intrigued.

You decide to have a bit of a stickybeak, and the place seems to be what you’re looking for. Amenities include a newly renovated kitchen, a swimming pool where you could splash around with your friends and fam on a warm summer day and … wait, is that a laundry with a dog-washing station?! Nice. It turns out there’s an open house there this weekend, and you figure you might as well go along, just to have a tour of the place and soak up some of the om-Beyoncé.

You hadn’t even seen this house until a few minutes ago, and now you’re on your way to a property inspection, all thanks to the power of social media.

Instagram can take you on a tour of a luxurious house without leaving your couch.

Given the increasing popularity of Instagram as a tool for selling real estate, we’ve broken the topic down, to ask:

Why are real estate agents turning to Instagram?

Instagram has long been a place for influencers to ply their trade, selling their followers everything from fashion to fitness, while simultaneously promoting an idea of a glamorous, carefree lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, given the popularity of the platform and the potential to showcase properties in an exciting and visually interesting way, real estate agents are getting into the Instagram game, with many becoming influencers themselves.

Jess Chia of Place Estate Agents at Sunnybank tells Canstar that agents are increasingly acting in ways that are akin to influencers.

“You can use social media to sell from a very aspirational point of view,” she says. “Often you’re selling a lifestyle, rather than selling a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.”

In a broad sense, there are number of key reasons why Instagram makes sense as a tool for selling real estate:

Instagram is a visual medium

The focus of Instagram is on photos and videos, meaning an agent can showcase the most visually appealing elements of a property, and make them really stand out. The visual component of Instagram allows agents to sell a lifestyle as readily as they might sell houses, with images of luxurious interiors and twinkling city views that give off a sense of style and opulence.

Instagram can put a home’s best features front and centre.

Instagram is immersive

Features like stories and IGTV, which offers immersive video content, allow vendors to give a virtual tour of a home, and focus on some of its most appealing features, like a grand entrance or a sparkling blue swimming pool. Video content can make buyers feel like they are taking a tour through a property and seeing what it has to offer, even if they can’t physically make it to an inspection.

Instagram is popular

Instagram is popular with Aussies – an estimated 45% of us have an account, which we check on average 28 times per week, based on a study featuring about 2,000 interviews. Not only is Instagram popular, it’s also portable, meaning that prospective homebuyers have it in their pockets all day, ready to browse in their lunch break or on the train, and then BAM, they have just scrolled to their next home on a social media platform.

What are the advantages of Instagram as a real estate tool?

Real estate agents are already factoring social media advertising into their advertising budgets – Ms Chia says that her team includes several members who specialise in social media, and that it’s factored in when considering marketing costs. For individuals in the market to buy or sell a house, there are a number of specific ways that social media platforms like Instagram can be a useful tool.

Instagram puts the home front and centre

When people are looking for a home on traditional property websites, they might well narrow the scope of their search to a very particular suburb and only look for properties in that area. Social media can expose buyers like these to houses they never knew were out there, in areas they might not have considered. Ms Chia says that social media platforms like Instagram can drive sales because they put the home first. “People fall in love with the home before they fall in love with the address,” she says.

“I’ve had a few clients who’ve reached out and said ‘I love this home you’ve posted, it looks stunning, where is it?’ Then after they find out, they’re surprised. They say they’d never thought about living in that suburb, but because of this particular home, they might be willing to drive the extra ten minutes. Then they come to the open home, and can follow through with a purchase.”

Instagram can highlight the best features of a home

Scrolling through a beautiful real estate Instagram account can make you feel like you’re flipping through the pages of a high-end architecture magazine. The photos you’ll see there tend to highlight the glamorous and aspirational elements of a house – whether it’s a luxurious modern kitchen with granite benchtops and all the latest appointments, or a smaller quirkier feature, like an original cornice.

Ms Chia says that when she features a house on social media, she looks for the elements that stand out the most and tries to highlight them to get interest. “If a house has a lovely Bali hut in the backyard, we might start from there and let people scroll through and discover the more traditional aspects of the home and its other features,” she says. “You can do something a bit different and a bit more exciting than your standard listing.”

Instagram can highlight the stand-out features of a home.

Instagram can give buyers a sneak peek of new properties

It is common for sellers and agents to post some properties on Instagram and other platforms before the listing goes out. This is good for sellers, because it can generate advance interest in the property, and for buyers because it can give them a sneak peek of a property that has not yet been listed, and a possible leg-up on the competition.

Buyers advocate Cate Bakos of Cate Bakos Property tells Canstar that she has seen cases where an Instagram post about a house has caught people’s attention and they have initiated a phone call. “I’ve had clients who have been actively looking for properties spot an early listing alert on Instagram and get in ahead of the crowd,” she says.

Instagram is an efficient way to reach potential buyers

Mete Karan of Ray White Glenroy tells Canstar he likes the efficiency that comes with platforms like Instagram. “Using Instagram as a sales tool is a fast and efficient way to share new properties with local owners and buyers and a great way to start conversations with new audiences,” he says. He adds that sharing through Instagram is faster than filling out a form on a website or emailing a friend or potential buyer.

He says that this efficiency works from the point of view of both buyers and sellers. Sellers benefit because “buyers are spending more time on social media scrolling through their feed, rather than on [traditional] websites, and are more likely to stumble across property suited to them.” Buyers, likewise, can turn on post notifications for agents they follow, and see images and videos of new houses as soon as they are uploaded to Instagram.

What are the drawbacks of Instagram as a real estate tool?

While Instagram can highlight the most appealing features of a property, and generate interest from prospective buyers, it’s worth remembering that there are some downsides to posting property on social media.

Instagram can expose you to unwanted commentary

When you post on social media, you expose yourself to comments from the general public, and they might not all be pleasant. Unlike a traditional property listing, where the information is all there and the agent is in control, a social media post can invite negative commentary.

Ms Bakos tells us that if you post a property on social media, you can find yourself at the mercy of “trolls”. “You can also have comments from upset buyers, too,” she says, warning that if someone misses out on a particular property they want, they may come back and leave disparaging comments on an agent’s other posts, which is certainly not the type of thing you would want prospective buyers to see when they’re scrolling through your page.

“You can get a message out there through social media, but you can’t control what people say,” she warns.

Instagram is predominantly used by younger people

Aussies in the 18–29 age bracket are the biggest users of Instagram, with around 35% of them active on the platform. Instagram is not as popular with over-65s, though, with fewer than one in ten using it. If you’re selling property on social media, it’s clearly important to keep your demographic in mind. “You’ve got to work out what your various age groups like, and make sure you expose a property to all the right age groups through the right channels,” Ms Bakos says.

Ms Chia adds that while platforms like Instagram and Facebook work well for her when featuring properties in the inner city, other platforms can work better.

“I work more towards the area where the average age of buyers is older, and I work with people who are more active on other platforms. For example, most of the buyers I work with are from a Chinese background, and they are on WeChat, which is how we sell a lot of our properties.”

Instagram doesn’t give the whole picture about a house

From a buyer’s point of view, Instagram can paint a pretty picture of a house, but won’t tell the whole story. “Instagram is artistic, and you’ll get little snippets of inspiration, but you won’t get things like floor plans and dimensions,” Ms Bakos says.

While a post is likely to highlight lovely features like a swimming pool or recently redone kitchen, you also probably won’t see any of the potential flaws or nasty surprises, like structural problems or areas in need of an aesthetic refresh. A physical inspection of the property and, if you intend to buy it, a professional building and pest inspection are still advisable.

While you’ll likely need more than Instagram to seal the deal on a property transaction, it has become an increasingly important part of the real estate game, allowing sellers to highlight the best features of their homes, and expose them to all-new and unexpected buyers.

If you’re thinking about selling, or just want to make your house pop for the ‘gram, you can also look at our list of expert tips on ways to style your home for sale.

Image source:  rzoze19/shutterstock.com


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