As soon as he got his real estate license, Brandin Strasser reached into his toolkit and started making posts on social media.
“Most of them were just house tours; I didn’t talk too much because I didn’t feel like I had that confidence in real estate yet,” the Edmontonian said in an interview with CBC.
The house tours soon evolved into talking about his personal life as a way to build connections with his audience, which mostly consists of millennials and generation Z.
Based on those demographics, he primarily focuses on TikTok and Instagram.
As mortgage rates and inflation climbed higher, Strasser and other Albertans were selling real estate using social media platforms to convince young Canadians to take the plunge into the housing market.
Strasser has been with cloud-based brokerage REAL Broker since April 2022.
He said TikTok, in particular, is a great platform for what he calls organic growth.
“Other platforms, they’ve kind of matured in the place where you have your influencers established on Facebook and even Instagram somewhat, while TikTok seems to be a lot more open forum and friendly to new accounts just getting out there,” he said.
Strasser said millennials and gen-Zers often feel discouraged by the high costs associated with buying a home. He wants to encourage younger buyers to recognize that it’s not all “gloom and doom,” as he believes real estate is attainable for everybody.
“It really just comes down to showing that there are realistic options and setting boundaries that your first house doesn’t have to be a mansion; your first house can be modest,” he said.
Recent figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association put the average price of a single detached home in Toronto at $1.2 million, and close to $1.7 million in Vancouver. In Edmonton, a typical single-family home can be purchased for about $425,000.
Umar and Atefah Khan purchased their Calgary condominium in May 2022 after Atefah found Calgary-based agent Tyler Hassman on TikTok. Originally from Toronto, they were newlyweds who spent a lot of time moving back and forth between provinces.
But they moved to Alberta permanently once they realized a mortgage was cheaper than rent.
Umar Khan said finding a real estate agent with a large social media presence helped the pair feel a connection with their agent even before their first phone call.
“I feel like platforms like TikTok, Facebook and YouTube are going to be the way the younger generation resonates to [real estate agents],” he said.
Hassman has garnered more than 62,000 TikTok followers from his own home tours, which showcase everything from the cheapest condominiums to $15-million show homes.
“People are commenting like crazy, like, ‘As if you can get a fully detached home for 400 or let’s say $500,000,’ and they’re blown away,” he said.
When Hassman became a real estate agent almost two years ago, he wanted to explore different areas of marketing and move away from traditional techniques such as door-knocking, cold-calling and mail flyers.
He wondered why other agents weren’t taking advantage of newer social media platforms, noting the influx of people moving to Alberta from Ontario and British Columbia.
“The best way to reach them was going to be [through] social media,” he said.
100 deals in 2 years
Hassman’s focus on social media has made an impact, he said. He said he and his team have closed on more than 100 deals over the last two years — based solely on his videos.
“It’s absolutely blown me away, the amount of homes we’ve been able to sell and the people we’ve been able to reach,” he said.
Heather Thomson, executive director of the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta, said social media has an impact on consumer spending.
“I think the pandemic kind of took the need out of the middleman,” Thomson said.
“There isn’t the need to work with advertising or to work with a media source to get that content out there – they can do it themselves.”
Thomson said consumers want to connect to a person and a value system when they engage with sales professionals through social media.
When real estate agents use these tools, they’re strategically selling themselves and their experiences, she said.
Thomson believes it may reach a point where professionals working in forward-facing industries like real estate could lose out on sales opportunities if they don’t engage with these newer marketing tactics.
“There’s so much value to add to the everyday consumer to make sure that they feel like they’re learning something and they feel like they’re connected to that person,” she said.
Strasser thinks TikTok and Instagram will play a huge role in the growth of the real estate industry as a whole.
“I think that’ll help a lot – break down a lot of negative stereotypes around real estate agents.”