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When TikTok launched in 2017, it was known as a platform for viral dance videos. Since then, its roughly 1 billion users turn to the social media app for videos on an array of topics, from comedy to cooking to something called #RushTok—an oddly intriguing look at the sorority and fraternity recruitment process on various college campuses.

On TikTok, you can find a video about nearly anything. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, the app became a true force for marketing, buying, and selling homes at a time when in-person home tours were literally impossible. During the months that followed, despite the return of in-home viewings, real estate TikTok exploded. The telegenic real estate agents who regularly posted videos had found a new way to reach homebuyers and sellers.

“Every business sector tried to use the influence of TikTok for its own benefit, and so did the real estate industry,” says Dustin Fox, a real estate agent and the owner of Fox Homes in Fairfax, VA. “In the post-pandemic era, TikTok forced the housing industry to change its marketing strategy. I’d say that more than one-third of the buyers I work with are influenced by TikTok in their decisions they make around purchasing a home.”

Lauren Matera, a real estate agent who has more than 418,000 followers on TikTok, has witnessed the changes firsthand.

“I started posting real estate-specific content in the fall of 2020,” Matera says. “Everything about the app makes it a resource for information, education, and entertainment. So in many ways, it makes sense. The short-form video format means you can watch lots of videos quickly.”