Many industries are seeing the benefit of influencer marketing for its ability to spread brand values and drive return on investment (ROI). Now, as COVID-19 yet again puts the kibosh on open houses, real estate agents are turning to macro-influencers to engage young home buyers.

According to Crain’s New York, real estate agents in New York are enlisting influencers to appeal to millennials, which represent the largest share of home buyers in the US.

At the onset of the pandemic, agents shifted to virtual home walkthroughs and augmented reality-powered home staging. Still, the New York real estate market is suffering, with residential sales transactions down 41 percent year-over-year according to PropertyShark.

The third wave of COVID represents the need for agents to remain virtual, but a sale in the pandemic will require more than giving buyers the ability to browse homes online.

Young buyers want to envision a dual work-life space, one that includes a veneer of cool, New York-based Compass sales director Christine Blackburn told Crain’s. 

Influencers are a surefire way to induce that cool factor. To promote the sale of studios in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights at the end of March, Blackburn partnered with three Instagram influencers who curated model homes with touches of their personal aesthetic. 

One of the influencers, Summer Rayne Oakes, is known for sharing houseplant tips with her 213,000 Instagram followers and 348,000 YouTube subscribers.

Crain’s reports that Oakes transformed a 447-square-foot studio, priced at $499,000, into a “boho-chic” space by sourcing furniture, plants and other decor on a $5,000 budget.

Blackburn called Compass’ partnership with Oakes “super effective.” To date, Oakes’ YouTube video of the studio transformation has received 478,000 views and her Instagram post featuring the makeover has 3,361 likes and 82 comments.

According to Crain’s, Thomas Fialo, vice president at Douglas Elliman Development, Marketing partnered with beauty and wellness influencer Sai De Silva, who has 329,000 followers, to promote the Quay Tower condominium near Brooklyn Bridge Park. After De Silva posted an authentic day in the life video inside the luxury building on her Instagram Stories, Quay Tower’s Instagram page saw a 650 increase in visits while its website saw a 500 percent surge in clicks.

One major advantage of promoting real estate through influencers is that younger generations perceive them as more relatable and therefore, more trustworthy. Research from Morning Consult found that 50 percent of millennials trust influencers they follow for product recommendations compared to 38 percent for their favorite celebrities.