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Social media is table stakes now. But not all apps are created equal. Facebook is for friends. Instagram is for interests and LinkedIn is for work connections. So why shouldn’t real estate have its own social media platform that brings together a global community of agents, buyers, and sellers?
We’ve learned that there’s power in a platform to find what you’re looking for, to share, and to chat — opening doors and elevating your presence. We’ve watched how people become influencers with followers who devour their every post. These influencers don’t have to pay to promote themselves, they’ve built their audience through content, personality, and what they stand for.
In contrast, real estate has become “pay-to-play,” restricting agents from showcasing their listings on well-known real estate platforms, unless they pay (a lot!) to promote them. Agents have lost their control in the real estate process, while big proptech profits from agents’ hard-earned listings.
Social media meets real estate
Imagine a social media outlet just for real estate — one like Instagram or WhatsApp geared 100% to our industry. The audience is engaged in real estate. Agents connect to share information about listings with one another or potential buyers and sellers – and retain those connections. Agents can even share their knowledge of properties before they are listed publicly.
It’s now all possible with the REAL Messenger app, an incredibly fast social media platform for real estate agents to promote their listings, share their styles and specialties, as well as their sales history and approach. Integrated into the app is an easy chat feature that replaces the need for cold calls, excessive emails, and online ads that don’t yield much return on investment.
Giving agents back control
As a businessman with experience in startups and proptech, I’ve watched the power shift from agents to large real estate platforms. And breaking through the social media clutter is nearly impossible.
Thus REAL was born. Along with my partner Fredrik Eklund, the top producing Realtor of Bravo fame and co-founder of the Eklund | Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman, we are committed to helping real estate agents around the world take back control of their business. Through a platform built exclusively for real estate, agents can promote themselves directly and connect with buyers and sellers in real-time, growing their business — for free.
From the agents’ perspective, sites and apps like Zillow are taking listing information from MLS agreements, repackaging it to promote it on their sites, then selling the information back to the agents who owned it in the first place! Agents end up paying these sites expensive advertising fees. And while many agents use Instagram to let their followers know about their listings, they are not really targeting a real estate-specific audience. WhatsApp is also used for secure, data-encrypted conversations ensuring quick exchanges of information. But how can an agent build their business when they’re promoting to people who are not in the market? Our formidable team of developers created the best of all worlds for the world of real estate — it’s like Instagram with a secure chat feature similar to that of WhatsApp.
The REAL advantage
Self-branding and inbound marketing are built into REAL. Agents brand themselves by creating content that showcases their listings, providing information buyers will need, and sharing their successes with transactions. Agents use the app’s three-point rating system to describe their listing and other important characteristics.
Potential buyers can search for anything specific to their interests (i.e., a home with a patio, a garden, or a swimming pool) in particular zip codes. They can also browse by scrolling through the listings to find the hottest, most popular real estate properties in their areas. These potential buyers can follow agents whose posts resonate with their preferences and interests, expanding agents’ networks.
When sellers are searching for a real estate agent, they want to know who is the best in the neighborhood. They can assess each agent by studying the content of their posts, as well as fit with the properties they list. In other words, REAL is a source of inbound leads — for free.
Agents, buyers, and sellers can connect with one another at any time via chat or even video conference. No more cold calls or onerous email follow-ups.
And REAL is fast too. Because the agents are creating the content, with at least two posts per week, the information is faster to obtain than through the MLSs.
Back to the future of real estate
In a nutshell, through REAL, we are uniting agents, buyers and sellers in an online community with quick access to information and the ability to connect with one another at convenient times.
By partnering with my co-founder Fredrik Eklund, within a month of introducing REAL to the public, it already has 200,000 downloads on the app store. The agents from the Eklund | Gomes Team, a billion-dollar club of top producing talent at Douglas Elliman, were first on the scene to begin using REAL, which Fredrik describes as, “bringing back the authenticity that real estate once had and that modern proptech platforms have stripped away.”
Fredrik wanted his agents — and agents worldwide — to be empowered with a platform to connect with one another and their buyers and sellers directly and easily. REAL removes the stuffiness and impersonal formality that is typical of modern-day tech innovations. Instead, REAL bridges the best in AI technology with old-school connectedness, kindness, and warmth, something so necessary in today’s world of real estate.
Thomas Ma, who hails from one of Hong Kong’s leading real estate developer families, became successful in his own right when he ventured into tech. He became an active business leader in proptech and subsequently brought his passion and in-depth understanding of real estate from international waters to the US market. Ma saw the industry shift toward large proptech platforms presenting steep financial hurdles for agents and decided to develop a new way for agents to showcase their listings. He co-founded REAL, giving agents back control of their listings to generate leads and maximize their online presence.