Looking To Buy A House? Try TikTok – dot.LA

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Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
It’s not uncommon for real estate agent Cassidy Hiepler to walk her 65,000 TikTok followers through a newly built home she’s trying to sell. For example, in April, she showed off the marble countertops, green kitchen cabinets and hilltop views featured in a $5 million Ventura County home.

Hiepler is part of the new world of real estate TikTok influencers who use the app to showcase some of the most lavish homes in Los Angeles. She first began posting real estate on her TikTok account in December of last year while she was a realtor with The Oppenheim Group, the real estate brokerage at the center of the Netflix show “Selling Sunset.” Those videos have since gained thousands of views, and today, Hiepler’s content includes everything from real estate advice, her current listings and personal content.
Hiepler says TikTok has given her the ability to reach more people than traditional real estate marketing techniques.
“To be able to post on TikTok and have thousands of people see your video is so much more effective than sending out a mailer, spending $500 on a postcard and hoping some people don't throw it in the trash—even though like we know they all do,” Hiepler says.
Hiepler typically shows off houses with a particular “wow factor”—details that might set one property apart from the others—to entice her viewers. The irony of course is that much of her audience on TikTok is unlikely to own a home anytime soon. Only 13% of Gen Z believe they will be able to buy a house within the next decade.
Still, real estate agent Josh Altman, who has over 141,000 followers on TikTok, says people who view marketing multi-million dollar houses on the app as a pointless endeavor don’t understand the financial power the app’s biggest players possess.
“Everybody feels that until someone buys a $5 million house from you, and when you ask them what they do, they tell you they're an influencer on Tik Tok,” Altman says. “Very quickly, you realize that people are making some serious money on this.”
Having realized that social media is where many of the next generation’s millionaires may come from, Altman’s company has invested in a production company complete with video editors and cameramen to film property walk-throughs and motivational content.
To Altman’s credit, a number of influencers have invested their social media earnings into real estate. Internet personalities Addison Rae, Emma Chamberlain and the D’Amelio sisters have used their videos—alongside endeavors ranging from film appearances to VC firms—to financeextravagantmansions.
TikTok’s creator ecosystem is also supported by collaborative houses, which feature different creators living together and creating content with one another. The Hype House, a Moorpark mansion that helped launch the D’Amelios into fame, cost $5 million, while the Sway House is valued at just over $10 million. Real estate agent Shelton Wilder says her 2,772 followers are interested in seeing how far their money could go in Los Angeles, a city that has become synonymous with some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
“I think people are interested in anything in Los Angeles because what's a million dollars here would cost so much less somewhere else,” Wilder says.
More importantly, Wilder says that a number of her clients have found her on TikTok before they even find her website.
Which is why TikTok is part of many real estate influencers’ long game. Hiepler says she uses TikTok to cultivate a following, so that once her followers are ready to buy a home, they turn to her for advice. And in the meantime, she wants people to see her videos and think “I can't wait until I live in a house like that.”
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Some of us spend our whole lives attempting to avoid becoming our parents… only for it to come full circle in the end.
Ellie Anest grew up on a farm in Nebraska, and spent most of her childhood preparing for a nine-to-five career in SoCal, eventually ending up in finance. Now, she owns a winery in Napa Valley.
On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, Eleven Eleven Wines’ founder discusses how she used lessons learned from working at a fast food corporation to build a booming wine business.
“I would not have ever guessed it in a million years—knowing how hard farming is and how volatile it can be,” Anest said. “Even my father at the time when he was alive when we were first buying it, he said, ‘Are you sure you want to go into this?’”

Anest stumbled upon the property for Eleven Eleven Wines as if by fate. She was working in corporate consulting, and real estate on the side along with her now business partner Carol Vassilliadis, when a call about a rental property in Napa Valley led her to stumble upon “the most beautiful landscaping” she’d ever seen.
“So that vineyard kind of called us to meet up with Kirk Venge who is a three-generation winemaker here in Napa Valley, born and raised,” she said. “He really thought the quality of the grapes were fantastic, and he felt like this is something we should do—make wine.”
After mulling it over and “crunching the numbers,” Anest decided to go for it. She and Venge settled on pinot noir and chardonnay as their first two wines, because both do well in cooler climates. They’re also varieties they observed nearby competitors having success with.
“And literally before I could blink, we’re making three varietals,” she laughed.
Anest said she had to keep reminding herself early on to be patient. Wine-making is not a speedy business; you have to wait for the grapes to mature.
“Up front there's a lot of investment because you wait,” she said. “Even the forecasting and the planning of this business is not one year out. You look at your first year and then it impacts the next two years. So you're always looking out two to three years.”
Today, Eleven Eleven Wines now makes about 16 different varietals of wine. If Anest’s parents were still alive, she thinks they’d be proud of her commitment throughout the challenges of getting her business up and running.
“I look around every day, I have those moments where I'm very grateful that we have the facility and we have the equipment, and we have the people that are believing in the vision of Eleven Eleven,” she said.
Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.
dot.LA Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this report.
Last week, Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans to rehome 10 of their HBO original series, yanking the titles off the platform and moving them over to third-party FAST (free, ad-supported, streaming television) services. The relocation of these shows – which include premium offerings like Westworld, as well as smaller, cult favorites like Made For Love and Gordita Chronicles – represents a seismic shift in streamer programming etiquette, and an industry-wide pivot towards belt-tightening.
This recommitment to Premium Video On Demand is a foreseeable consequence of the 44 billion dollar merger between HBO Max and Discovery+, as Warner Bros. attempts to fold the two platforms into one compact service in 2023, and achieve profitability in their direct-to-consumer segment by 2024. As Variety reported back in August when HBO Max removed 36 of their titles (including original films and 200 episodes of Sesame Street) from the platform, banishing these shows allowed Warner Bros. Discovery to circumvent contracts that require the company to pay residuals and licensing fees to the cast, writers, and crew who created them.
There is some irony in the fact that this new industry trend towards ducking residual payments — compensation creatives receive even after their work on a film or TV show is complete, in exchange for the reuse of their materials — coincides with scheduled contractual negotiations across three of Hollywood’s chief agencies designed to protect creatives. The Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, and the Screen Actors Guild all have contracts set to expire by June 30, and all three guilds have said they’re looking for increases in streaming residuals and minimum pay rates. The WGA is particularly eager to start negotiations, given that any leverage they might have had during the guild’s last negotiations in 2020 was undercut by Covid-19’s arrival, which limited the possibility of a worker’s strike.
Industry eyes will be especially fixed on negotiations this spring because this is the longest the guild has ever gone without a strike. Almost fifteen years have passed since the 2007/2008 Writers Strike incited a 100-day walkout — which coincided with the beginning of the Great Recession — that lasted until February of 2008. Before that, the longest period between strikes was 12 years, eight months, and 15 days. And as Deadline points out, every writers strike in history has revolved around residuals — including the strike from 2007/2008, when tensions about how writers would be compensated in matters regarding digital media boiled over.
This February marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Netflix’s House of Cards, the streamer’s first commissioned original series, which ushered in an era of platform growth and new possibilities as both viewer and industry perceptions of how people watch content were upended.
Money was of no consequence during the first five years of the streamers’ race to acquire and produce content, and in 2017 the TV show budget hit an all-time high. Now, five years later, these same platforms are dealing with cash flow concerns. 2022 was the first year that Netflix didn’t operate at a loss, but after launching their ad-supported subscription tier, stock prices dropped 9%. Also this fall, Paramount Global’s stock value depreciated by 7%, Roku’s price went down 6.5%, and shares of Disney dropped to their lowest level in almost two years, ahead of the launch of their ad-supported tier, which debuted earlier this month.
It used to be that content was king. Now it would appear that cash has retaken the throne. Streamers are looking for opportunities to save or make money, and they’re prepared to suffer the ire of the people who watch and create their content in pursuit of this goal.
Removing titles from their catalogs is only one prong in streamers’ strategy to reign in corporate spending. In October, Netflix started preparing to crack down on password sharing. A month later, the company launched their ad-supported tier, which restricts some of the site’s key show titles for licensing reasons; the launch also incited a brushup with Japan’s NHK broadcaster during which NHK asked Netflix to remove 22 of their anime titles because the platform’s ad service was incompatible with the broadcaster’s distribution policy. (In a statement provided to The Japan Times, Netflix stated that they removed the ads from the 22 NHK programs.)
In July, Amazon began rolling out improvements to their user interface intended to amplify Prime Video programming. The changes make it easier for viewers to discover content and determine if that content is included in their Prime Video subscription service, and incorporate a new Live TV page that will cover sports and live events (including the NFL’s Thursday Night Football, which Prime Video now streams exclusively).
In the most striking example so far, Warner Bros. Discovery canceled HBO Max’s Batgirl film in August – a movie whose production cost $90 million and had already completed shooting – in exchange for some tax benefits.
“It’s not about how much, it’s about how good,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery during an earnings call last August. “Owning the content that really resonates with people is much more important than just having lots of content.”
Whereas the 2010s marked a time of excessive consumption (see: binge watching, shopping hauls, and social media addiction) the 2020s appear to be taking a more minimalistic approach. Premium TV spending isn’t likely to disappear — Amazon did just spend 1 billion dollars on the first season of The Rings of Power, after all — but the emphasis now will be on curation. The more streamers start limiting what content is available to consumers, the more likely it is that consumers will start to question why they’re subscribing to these services at all. And the more likely these companies are to piss off creatives.
From an industry perspective, targeting residual payments is, as someone described it on Twitter, “pure evil.” Residuals are passive income that has been known to help prop up industry folk during times of financial instability, and title pruning can have serious impacts on the salaries of working creatives. One actor, Lucia Fasano, Tweeted that she received around $1,000 for her work in one episode of HBO Max’s The Deuce. “My SAG-aftra (SIC) contract means I get paid small residuals by mail when people watch it/buy it on HBO. The residuals also contribute to my union dues. That’s why they can pay you so little when you do the job.”
This kind of industry-baiting behavior by streamers seems poised to foment discontent amongst creatives, who are, frankly, already unhappy. Faced with a lugubrious job market, high inflation rates, and dwindling opportunities, a strike like the one undertaken in 2007 isn’t inevitable, but it is in the cards. As 2022 winds down, with concerns about a recession likely to carry over into the New Year, it appears the climate is ripe for yet another evaluation of how streaming services factor into Hollywood’s evolving business model.
Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.
According to a report last week in Forbes, FaZe Clan, an esports team owner and content powerhouse could soon be bankrupt. The company is failing to generate enough revenue, and what’s more, once a “lock-up” agreement on the stock is lifted following FaZe’s public merger in January, all FaZe employees will be able to sell shares if they wish.
The news comes as the talented gamers, streamers and influencers that make up FaZe’s roster are seeing their follower counts grow by the day.
What’s unclear is if the FaZe players themselves could jump ship. It’s also uncertain if this talent has such a sizable fan base because they’re tied to FaZe, or if they could take this following elsewhere if they were to defect.
It’s worth asking though: what would motivate creators to wait that long, especially if they’re offered lucrative solo deals? It could be about exclusivity; we haven’t seen their contracts and it’s possible FaZe has locked these players down for quite some time. The agency also invests heavily in talent, which might not be the case for other outfits looking to quickly capitalize on their celebrity to make a fast buck.
In other words, there might be companies eager to throw sponsorship deals at FaZe creators. But those companies might not provide the support, endless hype, and in some cases, living and working space the talent is used to. Also, some of these creators are already well-paid through their association with FaZe, which has incubated them since the beginning of their careers.
In a recent YouTube video, FaZe creator Lucas “FaZe Blaze” Mosing disclosed he was paid $15,000 for a three-hour stream. But, he noted that other creators make up to $50,000 for the same work. That’s significant because brand deals are where these creators really profit. In a recent filing, FaZe disclosed it only makes an average revenue per user (ARPU) of 36 cents on YouTube. That’s a paltry number even compared with some of its top talent on the platform and ironic since YouTube is FaZe’s overall most popular platform. Overall FaZe’s total reach is an estimated 526,268 million people, up from about 358,000 last year.
“It’s been tough,” Bilko said. “[FaZe are] not the only ones that are having a tough time monetizing, but they're also spending money to reach beyond that consumer and haven't been able to monetize them either.”
If Mosing and other FaZe stars could maintain their followings but exit FaZe, would they still command the same lucrative brand propositions?
Most likely, the answer is yes. These deals are calculated chiefly by the prospective size of the influencer’s network, not what platform or company they’re loyal to. Just look at Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the mega-popular streamer who leapfrogged his audience from Twitch to Mixer then back to Twitch two years ago.
FaZe’s finances are also in peril partly because of an outsized investment in celebrity deals, which industry experts say are a mixed bag in terms of return on investment. They’ve also invested heavily in a demographic (Gen Z) that isn’t paying off yet.
“We've seen a plethora of organizations tying celebrities to their brand that doesn't really have anything to do with the esports space, hoping that it will make them succeed, but it's rarely the case,” said Felix LaHaye, founder and CEO of United Esports. “But overall, the celebrities of gaming, the influencers, and the players, are really the celebrity power that you should be looking to obtain and leverage.”
So far, that strategy isn’t yielding dividends. FaZe is still in the red; it lost $130.6 million in its third quarter.
“They've spent a lot of time, effort and capital, to break through to the more mainstream consumer,” said Brendan Bilko, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based sports brand agency studio Robin. Bilko cited FaZe rival Culver City-based esports outfit 100 Thieves as the only other similar company to have become mainstream names. But, Bilko noted, “the question becomes, by doing these mass [market] plays does that help their core business; are they reaching someone that’s going to convert and become a paid customer in some way?”
Both Bilko and LaHaye said that celebrity investments rarely pay off. Bilko said that sometimes, he advises clients to go after micro-influencers instead, people with smaller and more loyal followings more likely to pay for products they hawk.
FaZe’s CEO Lee Trink has been clear about his goals to bring FaZe into the mainstream the same way most sports are, and even spearheaded a deal with the NFL in August. But Trink’s ambitions to turn his players into worldwide superstar athletes could backfire, if they outgrow the organization.
Bilko compared FaZe talent to traditional sports icons like Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant, who fans were prone to root for regardless of their team affiliation. “FaZe [has] a bunch of personalities that people really like and resonate with their core audience,” Bilko noted. He added that since FaZe’s esports business is clearly doing well, its players won’t have a hard time finding work: “There's opportunities for them going forward.”
Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.
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