Is TikTok a Viable Way to Sell Luxury Homes?


This article by LeadingRE Executive Vice President, Global Operations was originally published on PrimeResi (subscription required).   


For most people TikTok is a social network where teenagers perform dancing challenges and upload videos, often involving their pets. If you are over 40 (like me) chances are you’re not on TikTok and perhaps only became aware of the app last summer when Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the US fearing data sharing with China. However, we are now seeing real estate agents adopting the platform to advertise multimillion-pound property listings globally.

The relatively new social media platform allows users to create and share short videos. To say it’s become popular in the last couple of years would be a massive understatement. It’s now the world’s most in-demand social media channel with 800 million users worldwide and an impressive 1 billion views per day.

TikTok is still a playground for Generation Z: users aged between 16 and 24 account for over 41 per cent of its users. However, on the back of its incredible growth and impressive numbers, some agents from around the globe have started using the app to promote their listings. In fact, TikTok stats show that property searches have become popular on the app with the hashtag #realestate gaining over 2.9 billion views, #realtor 640 million views and #property 306 million views. If the younger generation regularly use this platform, then it makes sense for agents to also be present in the space, particularly as this age group grow older and begin buying and renting real estate.

Incredibly, there are also now “real estate agent guides to using TikTok” popping up online. Most of these early adopters are in the US, but the UK and other key markets are catching up. TikTok is now being used by housebuilders too. The global lockdown restrictions over the past year have forced companies to seek creative and innovative ways to market their properties, and some savvy developers saw the opportunity to experiment with the platform in marketing new homes.

TikTok’s technology is user-friendly and fairly straightforward, so if someone views a property video, they can share it easily, helping generate exposure for the listing. However, a quick look on the app shows it is at its very early stages of development as a marketing strategy. If you were to browse through the hashtag #realestate you will find that many of those videos are only vaguely attached to homes and property and some are completely unrelated. This is mainly due to the way that TikTok’s algorithm works. The landing page when you open the app is called For You. It’s a feed based on videos you have watched or interacted with. It does not feature people you know or follow like Instagram, for example.

So as things currently stand, it is quite difficult for a hopeful buyer to find their dream property on TikTok. The content on the app can become viral for all sorts of reasons, but it can give way to another meme or trend in the blink of an eye, meaning your listing can quickly become yesterday’s news. For this reason, I don’t see this becoming a core marketing strategy for brokers in the immediate future. However, it can certainly be used as a supporting part of the marketing mix, to generate more exposure – and even have a chance of going viral. Recent research shows Millennials and Generation Z will make up 45 percent of the luxury market by 2025, so now could be the time to jump onboard the TikTok bandwagon, even if there are a few issues to navigate. It will be interesting to see how property companies make use of the app’s undoubted potential in the years ahead.