Business & Economy

More real estate coming to social media feed near you

FILE: Online social networks like Nextdoor, Facebook and Instagram are getting into the business of real estate advertising as agents and firms seek to market themselves and their listings.
FILE: Online social networks like Nextdoor, Facebook and Instagram are getting into the business of real estate advertising as agents and firms seek to market themselves and their listings.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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Real estate agents have long been among the top advertisers in a community. But only now are social media companies figuring this out and trying to get some of those ad dollars for themselves in markets like Los Angeles.

Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors, this month rolled out a new real estate section, where agents in 10 cities, including L.A., can pay to promote themselves and their listings on the site.

Facebook and Instagram, which the former owns, are also offering new tools to real estate firms. Visitors to a firm’s website could see its listings show up in their social media feed.

Ali Jafari, Nextdoor’s vice president of business development, said Nextdoor is meeting a demand driven by the real estate industry.

"We’re seeing more and more money go from offline, whether it’s print or billboards or signs on lawn, to online," Jafari said. "Digital is more measurable. It's more trackable."

Social media companies stand to profit from branching into real estate advertising, which is expected to top $28 billion this year, said Kip Cassini, executive vice president of Borrell Associates, a market research firm.

Cassini said real estate companies have long vied with car dealerships for the top advertising spot in many cities, with retail usually in third place. 

What's changed is the way real estate companies market themselves. In the early 2000s, the industry began to pivot away from newspaper ads into digital, and by 2010, most of their money was going online, Cassini said. 

Cassini said the online advertising world for real estate has gotten much more heated with the entry of Facebook and Nextdoor. Social networks have an advantage because the typical user is visiting them more regularly than real-estate specific sites such as Zillow or Redfin.

For advertisers, "you're going to them, instead of them having to come to you," Cassini said.

Keri White, a real estate agent at The Agency, says she prefers advertising on social media instead of traditional modes such as signs on bus benches or shopping carts.
Keri White, a real estate agent at The Agency, says she prefers advertising on social media instead of traditional modes such as signs on bus benches or shopping carts.
Keri White

Keri White, who sells properties on the Westside for The Agency, said she prefers social media advertising over say, a bus bench, because it lets her target a younger demographic.

"People that I go to yoga with, grab drinks. We talk about the Bachelor — that’s who I want to work with," said White, who's 32. "So it's not going to be a bus bench."

White joked her clients wouldn’t even notice a bus bench because they’re too busy looking at their phones.