What Happens When Social Media Stars Take on Luxury Real Estate?
Many of the top names on social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram brand themselves as being relatable. But with many top-earners reportedly making millions per year, they’re not exactly just like us — and neither are their houses.
From mansions decorated like something out of a teenager’s wildest dreams to so-called collab houses where multiple content creators live together, occasionally disrupting luxury Los Angeles neighborhoods and irritating neighbors, social media stars have carved out a new niche for themselves in the real estate world.
“Decorated by a 12-year-old With an Unlimited Budget”
Like many in the entertainment industry, some of the social media stars who have been wildly successful suddenly became very rich when they were still very young.
In 2019, David Dobrik, the 24-year-old YouTube phenomenon, invited Architectural Digest inside of his $2.5 million Los Angeles home, which was littered with things that would amuse his teenage demographic, like an enormous gumball machine, a neon sign spelling out the word “clickbait,” or a working flamethrower.
The living room “looks as if it’s been decorated by a 12-year-old with an unlimited budget,” Rolling Stone said this year in a lengthy profile of the star.
Forbes estimated that Dobrik earned $15.5 million in 2020.
“At one point, his attention wavers and he starts casually roaming around his kitchen on a penny board,” the Rolling Stone article says. “I half expect someone to come out and yell at him to stop doing that in the house; but, of course, he is 24, and it is his $9.5 million house, so no one does.”
The Rise of Collab Houses
Dobrik certainly isn’t the only new-media star to be buying outlandish property. But there’s also a growing trend of well-known social media content creators moving into houses together.
Collab houses, also known as content houses, are enormous, often extravagant mansions filled with online creators who make content together. Most houses, many of them rentals, include people who live there full-time and others who live there part-time, sometimes totaling a dozen or more.
“Collab houses are beneficial to influencers in lots of ways,” The New York Times reported. “Living together allows for more teamwork, which means faster growth, and creators can provide emotional support for what can be a grueling career.”
When creating a new collab house, location is key. They’re often found in wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods, but most importantly, they need to be spacious and have good light. They need to have amenities — like a pool or large backyard — to make them ideal for filming content.
The Hype House, the home of a well-known TikTok collaborative founded in late 2019, “is a Spanish-style mansion perched at the top of a hill on a gated street in Los Angeles,” with “a palatial backyard, a pool and enormous kitchen, dining and living quarters,” The Times reported.
The house made headlines in July 2020 when social media stars flocked to a birthday party held for one of its residents. Despite local pandemic restrictions at the time, videos from the party showed that no one wore a mask. (That didn’t stop Netflix from green-lighting a forthcoming reality TV show focused on the Hype House, though.)
Other collab houses also threw parties during the pandemic, aggravating Los Angeles city officials to the point that they disconnected utilities at a rented 8,500-sq.-ft. mansion known as the Sway House in August.
The Sway House was accused of hosting parties “in flagrant violation of our public health orders” during a pandemic, creating a “party war zone,” Bloomberg CityLab reported.
Several other collab houses have courted controversy or drawn the ire of wealthy neighbors due to their residents’ antics.
In 2017, YouTuber Jake Paul’s neighbors repeatedly complained about loud parties and “stunts” filmed for social media at the house where he lived with members of Team 10, his social media talent label. In a news segment that went viral, a television reporter for KTLA said that Paul and his collaborators had turned the “tight knit community” in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Beverly Grove into a “war zone,” The Times reported.
The news reporter continued: “A recent stunt involved tossing furniture into an empty pool and setting the pile on fire. Neighbors said flames eventually grew higher than the house.”
Paul came out to greet the TV reporters gathered near his $17,000-a-month house to respond flippantly to a few of their questions before climbing atop the KTLA news van, seemingly unconcerned by his neighbors’ outrage.
Of course, not all social media stars are inclined to wreak havoc and disrupt their neighborhoods. But collab houses filled with energetic teens and twenty-somethings have continued to invade luxury neighborhoods across Los Angeles, and they appear to be here to stay.
Marketing Luxury Real Estate on TikTok
Some real estate agents have recognized young content creators’ love of luxurious real estate and begun to use it to their advantage.
When real estate agent Rochelle Atlas Maize first saw Julie Stevens’ Santa Monica, California, home, which had a two-story waterslide into a swimming pool, she knew it would be perfect for TikTok, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The six-bedroom house also featured a video production area with a projector screen, lighting and microphones, as well as a hidden room containing an art studio.
Stevens had previously tried listing her home with a different agent in the summer of 2020 for an asking price of $5.8 million, but there were no takers. After a few months, she called Maize.
Maize made the house available as a free location for influencers to create social-media content, and two weeks later, the house was in escrow after receiving multiple offers, The Journal reported. It closed in May for $5.1 million.
“I had just read a story about how young influencers had been making money and purchasing homes,” Maize told The Journal. She created a plan to allow creators to film there in exchange for using specific hashtags to help advertise the property.
“They’ll get it out there to a different audience,” she remembered thinking.
And, unsurprisingly, it worked.
Although these social media stars can produce chaos if left unchecked, the opportunity to utilize social media stardom to sell luxury real estate cannot be ignored.
Are you interested in upping your social media game? Regardless of your real estate niche, social media is essential to reach new leads and maintain relationships with current clients nowadays. Especially in the hyper-social world of buying and selling real estate, social media savvy can mean the difference between a slow month and a record month. For tips, check out The CE Shop’s free ebook, The Real Estate Agent's Guide to Uncovering New Business on Social Media.
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