Apr 22, 2024 - Real Estate

What happens when a Houston home goes viral

illustration of a for sale sign with the fire emoji.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Most people scroll Zillow Gone Wild for entertainment, but more real estate agents in Houston are leveraging social media buzz to attract serious home shoppers to their listings.

Why it matters: "Screen appeal is the new curb appeal," Zillow senior economist Orphe Divounguy tells Axios.

Follow the money: Zillow Gone Wild creator Samir Mezrahi parlayed his popularity into a new HGTV show that cashes in on viewers' nosiness about other people's houses.

  • "When I'm bored on my phone, I like to look at houses everywhere. And I think other people do that, but there wasn't a space for people to talk about that," Mezrahi said at a South by Southwest panel.
  • He posts what he calls "the most interesting homes across America," from castles to brightly colored mansions.

The big picture: More agents are chasing social media clout. TikTok saw a 40% increase in posts tagged #RealEstate during the first two months of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, Bloomberg reports.

Reality check: Houston Association of Realtors chair Thomas Mouton says social media has really helped local agents get an audience and showcase homes, but he's skeptical.

  • Instagram and TikTok focus on grabbing people's attention, but there's more to buying a home than the price tag seen on the apps, he says.
  • "Once you dive into the reality of going through the process for homeownership, it just may not line up with what's seen" on social media, he tells Axios.

What he found: The iconic Darth Vader house may be cool, but Mouton says buyers are still looking for practical things like dual offices, dual master bedrooms for multigenerational families, and updated outdoor spaces with pools and cooking areas.

Between the lines: Mouton adds being a realtor can look deceptively easy on Instagram.

  • "I think people go in there and they see this glitz and glamour and they see the highlights that people are posting and they too want to become a real estate agent. They want to become an investor," Mouton says. "And the reality of it is, I think a lot of people get into it and realize it's not what they thought it was."

Go deeper: Read about how this Houston realtor leverages Instagram to showcase fancy apartments.

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