There's a new way to find an apartment in New York, and no, it doesn't involve Craigslist.
Snaplistings is a new Snapchat account, launched in October, that showcases real estate agents with big personalities and their apartment listings.
Created by 20-somethings Dolly Meckler and Michael Hoffman, who have day jobs in social strategy for a top TV network, the account has brought real results to agents around the city.
"I was at a friend of a friend's apartment on St. Marks, and it was amazing," said Meckler. "Huge kitchen and patio, totally refurbished. It looked like it belongs in the suburbs, I swear. I started giving a clip style tour on my personal Snapchat account and had tons of people DMing me asking where it was, who's the broker, all this stuff."
"I thought, 'why is no one actually doing this?' so I decided to do it, and asked Michael if he wanted to be a part of it," she said.
"We love to think outside the box and go beyond our actual jobs," said Hoffman. "We love having exciting side hustles, but we made sure to do our research for this project."
Through the power of word of mouth and asking their friends if they knew any real estate agents, the pair essentially held castings to fill the account with bold personalities who also knew their stuff.
"This type of account is perfect, because real estate deals are happening now, not tomorrow," said Hoffman. "No one has time anymore to go out and find an apartment themselves, especially here in New York."
The agents have seen results from the account, through followers reaching out in DMs and then following through with emailing the agents themselves.
"I receive direct requests from real renters wanting to see the apartments I'm showing on Snaplistings," said Kelsey Martin, an agent who works with Douglas Elliman Real Estate on the Katzen Team.
"Although my forte has been mostly sales, I absolutely will work with a $3,500 renter," she said. "If you don't work, you don't eat. And my favorite thing to make for dinner is a reservation."
While the agents are out and about in the city, Hoffman and Meckler are providing real-time feedback on anything from where to go next or if the agent needs to present more of a balance between his or her personality and expertise.
"We're really the producers, and sometimes directors, of the account," said Hoffman.
The properties highlighted on Snaplistings have varied, and that's due to wanting to test what resonates with their audience.
"We tried to see if people would use it as a tool to find somewhere more affordable to live, or if it was going to be more of an entertainment account," said Meckler. "When we tested affordable listings, that's when it really took off. That's who the audience is."
"No deal is too small," said Martin.
Adam Werner is another agent on the account, of which there have been about 10 so far, and he works with the Corcoran Group. He's "one of the OGs," so he's been around since the start of Snaplistings back in October.
"I'm on the account every Monday, and I've never missed a Monday since I started," he said. "Now I know to black out Mondays for Snapchat, and then half of my Tuesday to follow up on emails that came in from the day before."
Currently, he has nine rental leads, which is a wildly enormous result from a platform like Snapchat.
The rest of his office is excited by his use of social media because you either "have a lead or you don't," according to Werner, so it doesn't matter where you got it from.
"Real estate voyeurism has been around since the dawn of time," he said. "The New York Times real estate section has shown us these grand old estates for centuries. Only now, it's in your hand or in your pocket."
Werner considers Hoffman and Meckler his "fairy godparents" and always runs any new ideas by them first before trying them out on the account. He was already using his own social media accounts to drum up business, which is why one of his friends recommended him to the Snaplistings team when they were first "casting" for the account.
Recently, and for the first time, the account posted a call to action, asking followers to email the team (at firstname.lastname@example.org) if they know anyone who's an agent that would be interested.
The plan for 2017 is to "transport" the account across the country, (it's active in California on Tuesday,) and eventually around the world.
"We can't wait to see the insight into how real estate marketing differs in other countries," said Hoffman.
"We love new media, and entertainment, and we're social media lovers," said Meckler. "So we're excited to see how big this account can get, especially as Snapchat grows, too, and other demographics start using it."
"If you want your product to have entertainment and purpose," suggested Werner, "then you have to be authentic. If you're real with the people in your life, on any level, then they'll be real with you."