Welcome to the Clubhouse: Why are brokers flocking to this new app?

by Timothy Inklebarger

With new apps designed for real estate professionals entering the market every day, the idea of adopting another one — especially one not necessarily for brokers — might seem daunting.

But agents are swearing by the year-old Clubhouse app that allows more than 10 million users to host town hall-style audio-only forums on various topics.

Carrie Jo Little, designated managing broker/owner of CarMarc Realty Group, started using the app in December — you still need to be invited by an existing member to use Clubhouse — and found herself immediately hooked.

Little soon began hosting her own forums, focusing on various aspects of real estate, and has since amassed more than 1,700 followers. She hosts a weekly real estate forum and runs three clubs: “Real Estate Live,” “Coffee with Carrie” and “Real Estate Conference,” all of which discuss various aspects of the industry. Little frequently hosts conversations with Chicago-based real estate coach and keynote speaker Marki Lemons-Ryhal — one of their most recent forums focused on what’s happening with the real estate business after COVID.

Rooms in Clubhouse have a virtual stage and invited speakers who are overseen by a moderator who guides the conversation and controls the actions of as many as 5,000 audience members. The moderator decides who is allowed to speak and whether spectators can virtually raise their hand to comment or ask a question.

Audience members are also prevented from recording the forums (through the app at least) and there is currently no official desktop version of Clubhouse — users must participate via their smartphones.

Little said not only has the app helped grow her business and her notoriety, but it’s also boosted her overall social media presence. “Because of Clubhouse, I’ve grown 2,000 followers on Instagram since December,” she said in a recent interview. That’s due in part to the stripped-down functionality of the app.

Clubhouse does not currently allow users to send direct messages to one another. The only ways to connect with another Clubhouse user are by addressing them in real time during one of the forums or contacting them through other social media handles, such as Twitter or Instagram, listed on their Clubhouse user profile.

Sabrina Bier, director of digital media and education at Proper Title, tells Houston Agent that she began more closely studying digital marketing at the onset of the pandemic and first started out using Zoom to hold lunch-and-learn forums on 1031 exchanges, foreclosures and other topics. That’s how she learned about Clubhouse. She now hosts a weekly “room” called “How Real Estate Professionals are Using Clubhouse.”

“What’s super cool as a resource is hearing in real time what other countries’ real estate markets are doing and how the pandemic is hitting those markets,” she said.

The cross-market networking opportunity made possible through the app also opens up the potential to connect with buyers outside the local market, she said. “Someone can live in Atlanta and be interested in buying an investment property in Chicago.”

Bier also invested in a fix-and-flip property with another Clubhouse user. “You have to do a ton of due diligence, but it’s the same as if you met someone at a bar or a fundraiser event,” she said.

She’s had a similar experience to Little’s in the exponential growth of her social media presence. Bier already has more than 2,000 followers on Clubhouse and her Twitter and Instagram accounts have experienced an increase since using the app, she said. “I can do a conference here in Chicago and get a ton of Chicago Realtors there just because of this huge following; instead of meeting up with people one-on-one for drinks, I’m better off creating an event,” she said.

The best part for her, though, is the opportunity to meet and learn from others: “I can spread the knowledge, and I get to learn from other people smarter than me.”

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