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In the dynamic realm of real estate, a seismic shift is underway as influencers emerge as pivotal players, not just in marketing properties, but in shaping the very landscape of homebuying. Gone are the days when real estate professionals toiled alone. Today, they find powerful allies in the form of social media influencers.

According to many realtors and content creators, these collaborations transcend traditional marketing, offering prospective homebuyers a holistic experience, from insightful advice on real estate basics to compelling endorsements of properties and services. As influencers assert their presence in real estate, their recommendations carry a weight that rivals, if not surpasses, conventional advertising, ushering in a transformative era where education, engagement and sales converge in the world of homebuying.

Intrigued by the rising phenomenon of social media influencers venturing into the real estate domain, BuzzInContent engaged in insightful discussions with realtors, influencer marketing agencies and real estate content creators.

These conversations delved into the transformative impact of influencer marketing on the real estate industry, challenges posed by misinformation and fraudulent content dissemination by some creators. Moreover, our discussions explored the proactive measures taken by creators to combat misinformation and uphold trustworthiness within this evolving landscape.

Danish Malik

While sharing some insights on how the real estate sector has evolved in terms of adopting influencer marketing and what unique challenges and opportunities it presents compared to other industries, Danish Malik, Co-Founder and CEO, Boomlet Group, said that there has been a tremendous increment in digital advertising, with an extensive network of channel partners, data sourcing agents, and other marketers aggressively trying to sell their inventories by targeting the right customers through methods such as creating social media profiles and running ad campaigns.

In the real estate sector, there is a significant need for credibility and trust, which has been lacking. To bridge this gap, builders and developers are turning to influencers, he added.

“However, there are challenges unique to the real estate category. Unlike other product categories where products can be shipped or virtually showcased, in real estate, anyone promoting a property needs to be physically present and visit the site for detailed information. Additionally, conversion rates in the real estate industry are considerably lower, despite achieving a decent click-through rate (CTR),” Malik said.

Garvit Tiwari

While explaining how influencer marketing has transformed the way real estate is marketed and sold, Garvit Tiwari, Director and Co-Founder, InfraMantra said, “Influencer marketing has revolutionised real estate marketing and sales for realtors. Collaborating with social media influencers has transformed our approach to reaching potential buyers.”

“Influencers offer immersive virtual property tours, providing interactive views that became invaluable during the pandemic. Their authenticity and genuine endorsements enhance the credibility of the properties we represent, building trust with our audience. Furthermore, influencers specialise in specific property types or regions, allowing precise targeting. This niche focus presents unique opportunities to connect with potential buyers genuinely interested in our listings,” he added.

Piali Dasgupta

Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President Marketing at Columbia Pacific Communities, pointed out that real estate is a bit late to the influencer marketing party. However, given that queries from Gen Z buyers have doubled in the past two years in cities such as Bangalore, and this cohort will be leading the pack of home buyers in the next two years, real estate brands have pivoted the way they market themselves and lean on influencer marketing to woo younger customers.

“Even then, real estate will not really see the kind of scale in influencer marketing that categories such as fashion, beauty and even FMCG has seen in the past few years, working with as many as 300 influencers at a time for their marquee campaigns. It would be quite niche, and that makes sense for the category as well,” Dasgupta said.

“At Columbia Pacific Communities, India’s largest and most preferred senior living community operators, we have partnered with senior influencers such as Manjri Varde to popularise the concept of senior living. For our marquee campaigns, we have roped in Bollywood stars such as Boman Irani, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi and Poonam Dhillon, to talk about our brand philosophy of positive ageing. They act very much like influencers for us, as they help us connect with newer, relevant, untapped audience segments, help us gain traction on social media, and build top of mind recall for the brand,” she added.

Pawan Sarda

Pawan Sarda - Chief Growth Officer, The House of Abhinandan Lodha, said that in the realm of real estate, referrals from friends and family have traditionally held significant sway as influential factors.

"However, in today's social media-driven landscape, a parallel form of influence is wielded by content creators and personalities through their online content. We place our trust in these individuals for the valuable insights they provide. When they endorse a property or similar offerings, their recommendations often carry more weight than conventional advertising," Sarda said.

"In the case of real estate, trust is an exceptionally crucial element. This is where influencers gain an upper hand over conventional advertising. While advertising tends to promote idealised dreams, influencers offer a dose of reality by showcasing various facets of a project. They extend their scope beyond the project itself to explore its future potential. This is precisely where their advantage lies. If they maintain authenticity, they possess the potential to revolutionise the way real estate is marketed and sold," he added.

Harry Dutt

Harry Dutt, Real estate influencer, said, "Influencer marketing allows us to leverage the reach and credibility of influencers who have established themselves as experts or enthusiasts in the real estate sector. Through partnerships with these influencers, we can offer valuable advice and insights to first-time buyers and enthusiasts in several ways: Education, showcasing properties and answering questions."

Mayank Agarwal

Meanwhile, Mayank Agarwal, another real estate influencer, highlighted that influencer marketing has empowered him to provide valuable advice to first-time buyers and enthusiasts in the real estate sector by granting better reach online, as it has democratised fame, it allows tapping into diverse expertise and perspectives to offer comprehensive guidance.

Tiwari highlighted that Influencer marketing offers realtors a powerful means to establish direct connections with potential buyers. Firstly, influencers possess niche audiences, enabling realtors to target specific demographics aligned with their property listings effectively. By partnering with influencers whose followers match their target market, realtors can ensure their message reaches the right people.

Secondly, influencers bring authenticity and credibility to the real estate industry. Their endorsements and personal experiences with properties can still trust in potential buyers, making them more receptive to realtor recommendations. Influencers serve as trusted intermediaries, fostering a genuine connection between realtors and their audience, he added.

“Additionally, influencer marketing allows for a personal touch in property showcases through engaging content like virtual tours, Q&A sessions and live property walkthroughs. This interactive approach enables realtors to directly address buyer inquiries, share valuable insights and present properties in a compelling, relatable manner,” Tiwari said.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Sarda said that building trust is the most significant advantage influencers can offer in bridging the gap between realtors and buyers in the real estate industry. The effectiveness of using influencers depends on the approach taken. If influencers are solely employed for sales-oriented purposes, it might not be the most optimal strategy.

“In my opinion, the key recommendation is to utilise influencers to create authentic and friendly recommendations rather than a hard-sell approach. Their strength lies in crafting genuine endorsements that resonate with their audience, fostering a sense of trust and reliability. This "friend-like recommendation" approach is likely to be more successful in influencing potential buyers positively,” he added.

Tiwari pointed out that real estate players were initially slow to embrace influencer marketing due to the industry's traditional reliance on established practices and regulations. However, the shift towards influencer marketing in recent years was prompted by changing consumer behaviour, especially among Millennials and Gen Z, who are more digitally connected and responsive to online content. This change led real estate professionals to recognise the need to adapt to new consumer preferences and leverage social media influencers and content creators to reach a wider audience.

While highlighting some notable instances of scams or fraudulent activities associated with influencer marketing in real estate, Malik said that according to official records, there are more than four lakh housing properties that are still under development and are stuck under RERA projects. Many of these developers heavily marketed their projects using social media and influencers, but unfortunately, these efforts did not yield positive results.

“I believe that while some of these developers may have encountered unfortunate circumstances, there is also a significant number who simply exaggerated and made false promises. As a result, customers who placed their trust in them ended up paying the price,” he added.

Malik pointed out that certainly, responsible content creators are now taking more precautions due to the ASCI and other emerging guidelines. They are increasingly focused on conducting due diligence before associating with any brands and then promoting them. This approach helps build trust and credibility among investors and buyers in the community. It serves as a means of transferring knowledge effectively, enabling customers to better understand the market in a convenient manner. This, in turn, empowers them to make informed decisions before making a purchase. Influencers are therefore filling two essential gaps by increasing credibility and sharing knowledge.

Dutt emphasised that ensuring accuracy is paramount in influencer marketing, especially in the real estate sector, where misinformation can have serious consequences. To address concerns about inaccurate information, certain steps are being taken:

"Due Diligence: We carefully vet influencers and provide them with accurate, up-to-date information about the properties they promote. Fact-Checking: We encourage influencers to fact-check their content and verify details with our team before publishing," Dutt said.

"Transparency: If any inaccuracies arise, we address them promptly, issuing corrections or clarifications as needed. Legal Compliance: We ensure that all content complies with real estate laws and regulations, minimising the risk of misleading information," he added.

Meanwhile, Agarwal said, "I always refer to authentic sources for getting relevant information and for official government regulations, one cannot rely solely on web searches. My content is based on the authenticity of resources coupled with my experience in the field.”

In the digital age, information is a double-edged sword, offering both enlightenment and deception. While social media and technology grant unprecedented access to knowledge, they also fuel the dangerous spread of misinformation. Influencers, as guardians of trust, must post with rigorous fact-checking to ensure clarity. However, the responsibility isn't theirs alone; the public must exercise discernment and avoid blindly following influencers. Our true power in this era lies in collectively navigating the information flood with critical thinking and caution, he added.

While speaking about the future of influencer marketing in the real estate sector and the upcoming trends in the space, Malik said, “Boomlet is working in the same domain and we may announce it very soon, probably in the first week of October. I believe the very first thing that will happen next is that all real estate influencers will try to work collaboratively. They will aim to function more as a community of real estate influencers, rather than focusing solely on individual campaigns.”

He added that the next step will likely involve advocacy, where prominent groups lock in the top influencers exclusively on year-to-year contracts to secure the opportunity and gain a first-mover advantage. This strategy aims to create significant obstacles for competing brands. Additionally, it's worth noting that a majority of influencers are on Instagram, with 78%, but they are gradually moving to platforms like YouTube, as seen with Harry Dutt, India's biggest real estate influencer on YouTube from Chandigarh.