If you’ve watched TV, listened to the radio, or scrolled down your social media feed, you’ve likely heard “Old Town Road,” a catchy country-rap song created by Atlanta rapper Lil’ Nas X.
Well, it seems that X may have a little competition from Chicago-based eXp agent Sean Cochran who has stepped into the limelight after his real estate rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” went viral.
In an interview with Inman, Cochran said he didn’t expect the video of him crooning “My inspector goes to low places, where the radon glows and the mold chases agents away,” a riff on the opening lines of Brooks’ song — to go viral. At most, Cochran hoped for at least 5,000 views.
But, an article published by Crain’s Chicago Business on Wednesday and two local news segments on WGN and Fox Chicago on Thursday have catapulted him far past the 5,000-view mark. At last check, Cochran’s three-minute video has racked up 579,000 views, 521 shares, and more than 1,600 comments.
“I’m talking to you, I was on two TV news shows this morning, and I’ve gotten 200 notifications on my Facebook within the last hour,” he said. “It’s mind blowing. As a Realtor, all I can hope for is that in my small part of the country, that people know I’m a Realtor and know that I’m doing a good job.”
“And they’ll know that now, especially if they didn’t know that before,” he added.
Before becoming an agent, Cochran spent a decade as a loan officer and seven years as loan officer recruiter for loanDepot. But, as the years ticked by, he began dreaming about a career selling homes.
“I’ve wanted to be a Realtor for the past five to six years, but working full-time at a mortgage company, needless to say, that would be a no-no,” Cochran said. “But, I remember telling my wife for years that if I’d somehow stop working for a mortgage company or get fired or anything, I’m going to become a Realtor.”
Then in mid-2018, Cochran was laid off from his position as a recruiter. After taking the morning to absorb the news, the former loan officer ordered study materials for the Illinois real estate licensing test and signed up for an online class. He finished the class in 28 days and passed the licensing test. In October, he began working for eXp Realty Illinois.
“So, getting laid off from loanDepot was the best thing that happened to me,” he said while laughing.
Beyond getting the chance to help buyers and sellers, Cochran was excited to finally be able to flex his creative chops through marketing efforts for his business. In his interview with Crain’s, Cochran said his first parody, a take on the Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” didn’t gain legs with viewers, stalling at nine views.
But a trip to Houston this spring ended up being exactly what Cochran needed. His mother wanted to see a rodeo, and Cochran decided he needed to dress appropriately with a cowboy hat and boots. He ended up wearing the hat and boots for the duration of the trip, abandoning the Nikes he’d packed.
“The whole time I was there, I only wore my hat and boots, and it was great,” he said. “No one looked at me funny when I was there, it was a regular thing. When I came back home to Chicago and got off the plane, I got all kinds of looks walking through Midway.”
He began wearing the hat and boots everywhere, even to showings, open houses, and meetings with clients. That’s when he decided that his next parody would be inspired by country music classic, “Friends in Low Places.”
Cochran wrote the song in 40 minutes and immediately booked an hour-long recording session. After three takes and some mixing magic from a producer, Cochran was ready to shoot the video. He’d already created a storyboard, scouted locations and enlisted his friends to star in the video by the time he contacted the videographer.
After $600, three hours of filming and two weeks of editing, Cochran’s country masterpiece — with a Ford F-150 and his best Oklahoma twang — was ready for the world to see. His video garnered 15,000 views within the first two days and plenty of comments lauding the agent’s creativity, boldness, and singing skills.
“This is awesome,” said one commenter. “I have been telling everyone I want my brokerage to do a video like this!”
“I want to work with you,” said another. “My kind of agent!”
In the end, Cochran’s bet has seemingly paid off. His Facebook traffic has increased 600 percent and the engagement on his ads has risen by 300 percent — all of which lead to his agent website. The newbie completed 30 sales over his first 10 months, and he hopes this video and subsequent parodies will set him up for fantastic second year in real estate.
If there’s anything new agents can take from his story, Cochran says he hopes they gain the confidence to simply be themselves.
“There’s probably 100 agents who live near me within 10 square miles,” he said. “So you have to make sure you stand out. I think other new agents need to not be afraid to put themselves out there.”
“I think there’s a lot to be said for someone who is just themself and lets their personality show without being afraid of what others think,” he added.