The popular live-streaming app Periscope is giving real estate agents and brokers a compelling new way to digitally engage homebuyers and clients in real time.

Houlihan Lawrence, a brokerage based in upstate New York with over 1,200 agents, and North Carolina-based Triangle Real Estate Group, which has 17 agents, are both experimenting with Periscope.

3-D immersive virtual tours, automated listing videos, private live virtual tour tech and professionally produced videos give buyers a virtual feel of a home. But Periscope allows users to broadcast live video shows through Twitter.

Agents using Periscope interact with a broad audience in real time. They allow viewers to interact through comments and “likes” with both the videos and the brokers and agents filming them.


Screenshot of metrics for one of Houlihan Lawrence’s Periscope tests.

Houlihan Lawrence envisions pairing a Periscope live feed with open houses, Anne Marie Gianutsos, the firm’s head of digital, told Inman.

By publishing a Periscope video a few minutes before an open house officially starts, Houlihan Lawrence agents can give buyers a preview of properties they may not be willing to take the time to visit in person based on photos or descriptions alone, Gianutsos said.

A preview will convince them to pass or inspire them to come visit, streamlining their house-hunting work in the process, she said.

The firm tested the platform at three open houses on a recent Sunday. To drum up an audience, it sent out a companywide email and mentioned the experiment in its newsletter, which goes out to 50,000 subscribers.

Here are the results from Houlihan Lawrence’s first three tests:

  • The first attempt failed because the cell signal wasn’t strong enough and Wi-Fi wasn’t available.
  • With a strong Wi-Fi signal, the second test worked; 83 live viewers tuned in to this open house. With the help of the comment feature, the listing agent giving the tour was also able to answer some viewer questions on-site.
  • The third attempt was also successful. The feed had 78 live viewers and 87 “hearts.” A heart indicates a “like”; they show up every time a viewer touches the screen during a live feed.

Triangle Real Estate Group had 13 viewers on its first Periscope test.

The technology allows homebuyers to see raw, real footage of a home, not just images that have been “scrubbed and edited,” said Katherin Burnette, owner and CEO of Triangle Real Estate Group. That real-life element makes Periscope a compelling new tool for the firm, she said.

Periscope also allows users to save their broadcasts as videos and republish them to other platforms, and Triangle Real Estate Group is looking to repurpose them in Facebook advertising by way of YouTube.

That’s exactly what Triangle Real Estate Group did with the video for a Raleigh listing.

It recently posted one video originally broadcasted through Periscope to Facebook and boosted the post. In the Facebook ad, it targeted a specific audience who it thought might be most interested in the property, Burnette said. Looking for a new home downtown? Check out this tour of 613 New Road, a beautifully built custom home near Whitaker Mill Road #trianglerealestategroup #613NewRoad, #jasongraves #JasonandScottGraves #RaleighRealtyBrothers

Posted by Triangle Real Estate Group on Friday, June 12, 2015

Triangle Real Estate Group used a video originally broadcast through Periscope in a Facebook marketing campaign.

Burnette says the firm plans to use Periscope to market its listings before they hit the market and to give neighborhood snapshots to homebuyers.

Houlihan Lawrence and Triangle Real Estate Group offered some live-streaming best practices:

  • Connect to Wi-Fi. Video quality faltered when just using cell data, even in locations with a strong signal.
  • Make the live-stream its own event. When part of another event, like an open house, disruptions were common.
  • Bring a friend to help shoot the video. It’s more engaging with someone on screen giving the tour.
  • Consider a script.
  • Advertise that you’re planning a live-stream broadcast. Consider putting live-stream dates and links in property descriptions.
  • As Periscope serves up some metrics immediately after the stream that may not be available at a later time, be prepared to take a screen shot as soon as the live-stream ends.

Live-streaming app comparison chart

Properties Periscope Meerkat
Broadcast notification Twitter Twitter Twitter, Facebook, text and email — individually, or all together
IOS and Android? Both Both Both
Viewer interaction Tap the screen and hearts float on the screen’s right side. Viewers can comment, but can’t scroll. Comments show up on the live-stream. Allows commenters send comments automatically to Twitter. Scroll through comments. Comments show up on the live-stream. Viewers can scroll through them.
Replay? Replay for 24 hours, available immediately after broadcast ends; then it disappears. Comments show up in replay. Can also save the video to post on other platforms. Not through the app itself. However, publishers can save a replay with the Katch app. allows people to record and save 15-second video highlights called ‘Reels’ for 24 hours.

Email Paul Hagey.

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